The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America's largest telecoms providers,
under a top secret court order issued in April.
The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an ongoing, daily basis to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.
The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk -- regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.
The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (Fisa) granted the order to the FBI on April 25, giving the government unlimited authority to obtain the data for a specified three-month period ending on July 19. Under the terms of the blanket order,
the numbers of both parties on a call are handed over, as is location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls. The contents of the conversation itself are not covered.
Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Larry Page of Google both strongly denied giving unfettered access to user data to U.S. officials, ...BUT... it turns out both companies have, in fact, cooperated with governments requests.
Zuckerberg denied his company's link to secret government data-sharing scheme PRISM on Friday in a blustery posted message that described allegations that Facebook gave US or any other government direct access to our servers as outrageous.
Now, sources tell the New York Times that both Facebook and Google discussed plans to create secure portals for the government like a digital version of the secure physical rooms that have long existed for classified information with U.S.
Anglo-American intelligence scandals, such as the one that preceded the Iraq war, are usually smothered or buried in an endless,
unpublished inquiry. Normal service soon resumes and everyone gets to keep his job. But the issues thrown up by the Guardian's Prism revelations couldn't be more clear-cut. Did GCHQ make use of NSA 's Prism system to bypass British laws and spy on the
public through covert access to internet giants such as Google and Facebook?
All that is needed from William Hague and Theresa May, the ministers who oversee the intelligence agencies, and the head of GCHQ , Sir Iain Lobban, is straight answers about what they knew and who authorised an operation that generated 197 intelligence
reports last year. No obfuscation.
No cover-up. No inquiry yet.
That way, we will know that the proper checks and balances on Britain's intelligence agencies are finally being activated.
Nothing less will do. Assurances from Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the head of the compliant Commons intelligence and security committee, will not be enough, particularly as he has hinted at his support for the mass surveillance proposed in the communications
Spy chiefs may have been operating a secret snoopers charter' to track people's internet use in the UK, a senior Government
minister has admitted.
Business Secretary Vince Cable made the claim after it emerged GCHQ trawled through private information, including emails, photographs and social networking pages, harvested by a secret U.S. surveillance programme.
Critics accused agents at the listening post of attempting to bypass British law by sending requests for intercepts to American authorities. Foreign Secretary William Hague responded with the fanciful nonsense that the critics fears were fanciful nonsense.
Only terrorists, criminals and spies should fear secret activities of the British and US intelligence agencies, the Foreign Secretary has claimed. However large numbers of people getting in trouble with the authorities for jokey tweets and the
like may think otherwise. People downloading porn may also consider it a bit fearful to watched by the state, considering the clamour for men to be jailed should they download a dangerous byte or two.
William Hague is due to appear before the House of Commons on Monday in an attempt to play down concerns about the US National Security Agency's snooping scheme, codenamed Prism, which allows it to mine data from Facebook and other internet companies.
While he will offer reassuring words, it is unlikely that Mr Hague will offer MPs much by way of hard information. In an interview on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, Hague refused to say whether the British government knew of the existence of Prism
before it emerged last week. H e said:
I can't confirm or deny in public what Britain knows about and what Britain doesn't, for obvious reasons
Major-General Jonathan Shaw, the former Ministry of Defence head of cyber security, said yesterday that there was no such thing as total security or total freedom. He said:
What we're seeing is an incredibly difficult job of getting the balance right between security and freedom.
When politicians speak of 'balance' then you know rights are being taken away, and that the balance will end up in favour of the state.
Edward Snowden has been revealed as the whistleblower behind the NSA surveillance revelations. The 29-year-old source behind the biggest intelligence leak in the NSA's history explains his motives, his uncertain future and why he never intended on hiding
in the shadows
What's most troubling about PRISM isn't that it collects data. It's the type of data it collects. According to the Washington Post report, that includes:
...audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs... [Skype] can be monitored for audio when one end of the call is a conventional telephone, and for any combination of audio, video, chat, and file transfers when Skype
users connect by computer alone. Google's offerings include Gmail, voice and video chat, Google Drive files, photo libraries, and live surveillance of search terms.
The US has filed charges against National Security Agency ( NSA ) whistleblower Edward Snowden in a sealed criminal complaint dated 14 June, according to a court document made public on Friday.
Snowden was charged with theft of government property, unauthorised communication of national defence information and wilful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorised person, the document said.
UK Ministry of Defence officials issued a confidential D notice to the BBC and other media groups in an attempt to censor coverage of surveillance
tactics employed by intelligence agencies in the UK and US.
Editors were asked not to publish information that may jeopardise both national security and possibly UK personnel in the warning issued on 7 June, a day after the Guardian first revealed details of the National Security Agency's (NSA) secret
Prism programme .
The D notice was made public on the Westminster gossip blog, Guido Fawkes . Although only advisory for editors, the censorship system is intended to prevent the media from making inadvertent public disclosure of information that would compromise UK
military and intelligence operations and methods .
Today Liberty announced it has issued a claim against the British Intelligence Services over their suspected involvement in the PRISM and Project Tempora
Earlier this month it emerged that the US Government has been routinely intercepting the electronic communications of non-Americans outside of the US via the PRISM programme, covertly run by the National Security Agency (NSA). It now emerges that GCHQ,
the UK's eavesdropping agency, may have subjected people in the UK to blanket internet surveillance in any event.
Liberty believes that its electronic communications -- and those of its staff -- may have been unlawfully accessed by the likes of the Security Services and GCHQ.
Liberty will ask the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) whether the British Intelligence Services have used PRISM and/or Tempora to bypass the formal UK legal process which regulates the accessing of personal material. The human rights group has issued
a claim in the IPT, contending that rights under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act (the right to respect for one's private and family life, home and correspondence) have been breached.
The PRISM/Tempora scandal came to light after former CIA technical assistant Edward Snowden exposed the secret US Government programme which seeks to monitor online communications across the globe. Leaks suggest the US administration has the ability to
directly access content held by the world's largest internet companies and that the NSA has established an infrastructure enabling it to intercept almost everything. Furthermore, the US Foreign Intelligence Service Act treats all non-US citizens as
possible enemy suspects -- entitled to none of the basic privacy protections afforded to US nationals.
Liberty is also concerned that the British Intelligence Services have used PRISM and Tempora to evade legal checks and balances and monitor people in the UK. They may be treating internet communications as international rather than domestic to evade
closer scrutiny and receiving material from their US partners to evade scrutiny altogether.
The revelations come soon after the supposed scrapping of the Snoopers' Charter -- the UK Government's official attempt to stockpile information about the online habits of the entire country.
James Welch, Legal Director for Liberty, said:
Those demanding the Snoopers' Charter seem to have been indulging in out-of-control snooping even without it -- exploiting legal loopholes and help from Uncle Sam.
No-one suggests a completely unpoliced internet but those in power cannot swap targeted investigations for endless monitoring of the entire globe.
The revelations about the National Security Agency's surveillance apparatus, if true, represent a stunning abuse of our basic rights. We demand the U.S. Congress reveal the full extent of the NSA's spying programs.
We write to express our concern about recent reports published in the Guardian and the Washington Post, and acknowledged by the Obama Administration, which reveal secret spying by the National Security Agency (NSA) on phone records
and Internet activity of people in the United States.
The Washington Post and the Guardian recently published reports based on information provided by an intelligence contractor showing how the NSA and the FBI are gaining broad access to data collected by nine of the leading U.S.
Internet companies and sharing this information with foreign governments. As reported, the U.S. government is extracting audio, video, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track a person's movements and contacts
over time. As a result, the contents of communications of people both abroad and in the U.S. can be swept in without any suspicion of crime or association with a terrorist organization.
Leaked reports also published by the Guardian and confirmed by the Administration reveal that the NSA is also abusing a controversial section of the PATRIOT Act to collect the call records of millions of Verizon customers. The data
collected by the NSA includes every call made, the time of the call, the duration of the call, and other "identifying information" for millions of Verizon customers, including entirely domestic calls, regardless of whether those customers have
ever been suspected of a crime. The Wall Street Journal has reported that other major carriers, including AT&T and Sprint, are subject to similar secret orders.
This type of blanket data collection by the government strikes at bedrock American values of freedom and privacy. This dragnet surveillance violates the First and Fourth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, which protect citizens'
right to speak and associate anonymously, guard against unreasonable searches and seizures, and protect their right to privacy.
We are calling on Congress to take immediate action to halt this surveillance and provide a full public accounting of the NSA's and the FBI's data collection programs. We call on Congress to immediately and publicly:
Enact reform this Congress to Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, the state secrets privilege, and the FISA Amendments Act to make clear that blanket surveillance of the Internet activity and phone records of any person residing in
the U.S. is prohibited by law and that violations can be reviewed in adversarial proceedings before a public court;
Create a special committee to investigate, report, and reveal to the public the extent of this domestic spying. This committee should create specific recommendations for legal and regulatory reform to end unconstitutional
Hold accountable those public officials who are found to be responsible for this unconstitutional surveillance.
The European Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee is to hold an inquiry into claims that the United States has been engaged in
surveillance of European citizens and diplomats. The inquiry is to report by the end of 2013.
The parliament also passed a resolution expressing serious concern over US surveillance programmes, and condemned spying on EU representations.
The parliament also declared its support for the rights of whistleblowers.
In the wake of revelations that the UK Government is accessing wide-ranging intelligence information from the US and is conducting mass surveillance on citizens across the UK, Privacy International has commenced legal action against the Government,
charging that the expansive spying regime is seemingly operated outside of the rule of law, lacks any accountability, and is neither necessary nor proportionate.
The claim, filed in the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), challenges the UK Government on two fronts. Firstly, for the failure to have a publicly accessible legal framework in which communications data of those located in the UK is accessed after
obtained and passed on by the US National Security Agency through the Prism programme. Secondly, for the indiscriminate interception and storing of huge amounts of data via tapping undersea fibre optic cables through the Tempora programme.
Dinah Rose QC and Ben Jaffey from Blackstone Chambers and Dan Squires from Matrix Chambers were instructed by Bhatt Murphy Solicitors who are acting for Privacy International.
Reports state that the UK had access to the Prism programme since at least June 2010, and has generated 197 intelligence reports from the system in 2012. Without a legal framework, which would allow citizens to know the circumstances in which such spying
would take place, the Government effectively runs a secret surveillance regime, making it nearly impossible to hold them accountable for any potential abuses. The absence of this legal framework appears to be in breach of the European Convention of Human
Rights, Article 8, which provides the right to privacy and personal communications, and Article 10, which provides the right to freedom of expression.
Eric King, Head of Research at Privacy International said:
One of the underlying tenets of law in a democratic society is the accessibility and foreseeability of a law. If there is no way for citizens to know of the existence, interpretation, or execution of a law, then the law is effectively secret. And secret
law is not law. It is a fundamental breach of the social contract if the Government can operate with unrestrained power in such an arbitrary fashion.
Mass, indiscriminate surveillance of this kind goes against the most basic fundamental human rights to privacy. The scope and scale of this program, which monitors the entire British public and much of the world, cannot be justified as necessary and
Additionally, Privacy International is challenging the Government's Tempora operation, a programme that reportedly secretly conducts mass surveillance by tapping fibre optic cables, giving the Government access to huge amounts of data on both innocent
citizens and targeted suspects. Tempora is the name of a core programme within Mastering the Internet, designed to intercept internet traffic that flows through the undersea fibre-optic cables that land in the UK. It is reported that the GCHQ project
has, since 2008, steadily been building capability and now claims to provide the biggest internet access of any intelligence agency in the Five Eyes alliance of eavesdropping agencies in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia,
and New Zealand. According to the Guardian, in 2011 more than 39bn events in a 24-hour period were recorded producing larger amounts of metadata collection than the NSA .
The Tempora programme by its very nature appears to violate the underlying requirement for interception, which requires that surveillance is both necessary and proportionate under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA).
While Privacy International intended to file the Prism claim in the Administrative Court, which would have made the proceedings public, Government lawyers, upon receiving notice of our intention, vociferously notified us that we could not bring such a
claim in the Administrative Court. Rather, the claim has been forced to be filed with the IPT, a secret tribunal that does not make its proceeding public or have to justify reasons for its decisions.
The US House of Representatives has narrowly voted to continue snooping on US phone calls, in the first legislative move on the programme.
In a 205-217 vote, lawmakers rejected an effort to restrict the National Security Agency's (NSA) ability to collect electronic information.
The vote saw an unusual coalition of conservatives and liberal Democrats join forces against the programme.
The rejected amendment would have blocked funding for the NSA programme which gathers details of every call made by or to a US phone, unless the records were part of a specific investigation.
It was introduced by Michigan Republican Justin Amash, who warned during the debate that the proposal's critics would:
Use the same tactic every government throughout history has used to justify its violation of rights: fear. They'll tell you that the government must violate the rights of the American people to protect us against those who hate our freedom.
Deutsche Telekom and United Internet have launched a secure German email service that they claim defeats America's NSA
Rene' Obermann, CEO of Deutsche Telekom, said in a statement:
Germans are deeply unsettled by the latest reports on the potential interception of communication data.
Our initiative is designed to counteract this concern and make email communication throughout Germany more secure in general. Protection of the private sphere is a valuable commodity.
German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reports that email traffic sent via the new system will be encrypted while in transit between the sender and receiver . Access to third parties is to be granted only in compliance with German law .
The service will only apply to email travelling between German ISPs.
Groklaw , a respected legal analysis website, has ceased publication out of concern of inadequate privacy for its users due to US email
The website shutdown comes just weeks after two providers of secure email, Lavabit and Silent Circle, opted to discontinue their services.
Groklaw founder and editor Pamela Jones said she cannot continue to operate her community-based website, which often relies on confidential tips, without some degree of email privacy.
Citing LavaBit founder Ladar Levison's observation that if we knew what he knew about email, we wouldn't use it either. Lavabit previously offered email privacy but seems to have been forced to close by the US authorities
Surveillance comes with an associated cost: It drives businesses away from the United States. The Information Technology and Innovation Institute, a technology think tank, estimates that U.S. cloud service providers, unable to assure privacy, could lose
between $22 billion and $35 billion to competitors in Europe over the next three years.
But that rather assumes that Europe doesn't operate equally invasive internet snooping.
The US National Security Agency's mass tracking and collection of Americans' phone call data violates the constitution, has a chilling effect on first
amendment rights and should be halted, accord to a court motion filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.
The motion is part of a lawsuit filed by the ACLU in June, one of several against the NSA following the Guardian's disclosures via whistleblower Edward Snowden, of the agency's mass surveillance of US citizens. Documents from Snowden revealed a secret
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court order directing Verizon to give the NSA all call detail records or metadata relating to every domestic and international call for three months, in a court direction that is renewed on an ongoing basis. The
The chilling effect of the mass call-tracking program is apparent: any person hoping to approach plaintiffs with proof of official misconduct would be understandably wary knowing that the government receives, almost in real-time, a record of every
A declaration in support of the motion by Edward Felten, a professor of computer science and public affairs at Princeton, warns that even basic inspection of the metadata on the calls made in the US each day allows the government to pry into the
population's most intimate secrets. They include the rise and fall of intimate relationships the diagnosis of a life-threatening disease or the identity of a prospective government whistleblower.
It can reveal, Felten wrote, when we are awake and asleep; our religion, if a person regularly makes no calls on the Sabbath, or makes a large number of calls on Christmas Day; our work habits and our social aptitude; the number of friends we have;
and even our civil and political affiliations . Calls to certain helplines, or support groups, for instance sexual assault, domestic violence or abortion clinics are all tracked by the NSA, the motion says.
The ACLU's lawsuit says that the NSA's ongoing tracking of their phone calls exceeds statutory authority and violates the first and fourth amendments.
The former operator of a secure email service once used by NSA leaker Edward Snowden has been fined $10,000 for failing to give government agents access to his customers' accounts, newly released court documents show.
In August, Ladar Levinson shut down Lavabit, his security-minded email business, rather than comply with government demands that he claimed would have made him complicit in crimes against the American people.
Court documents reveal that the FBI wanted Levinson to hand over encryption keys that would have given federal agents real time access to not just Snowden's account, but the accounts of all 40,000 of Lavabit's customers.
To Levinson, that was going too far. You don't need to bug an entire city to bug one guy's phone calls, he told The New York Times . In my case, they wanted to break open the entire box just to get to one connection.
Levinson claims he had complied with legal surveillance requests in the past, and that he proposed logging and decrypting just Snowden's communications and uploading them to a government server once per day. But this wasn't good enough for the FBI, they
wanted the keys.
Levinson did his best to avoid handing over the keys but the court levied a fine of $5,000 per day until the keys were provided in electronic form. Levinson held out for two days but finally relented, only to shut down Lavabit at the same time he gave up
the certificates .
When the Guardian offered John Lanchester access to the GCHQ files, the novelist was initially unconvinced. But what the papers told him was alarming: Britain is sliding towards a new kind of surveillance society
Recent disclosures that the government routinely taps, stores and sifts through our internet data have alarmed experts and internet users alike. It is alleged that the government has used the US's PRISM programme to access data on British citizens stored
by US internet corporations. Through its own TEMPORA programme, the government is alleged to tap into the sub-ocean cables that carry the UK's and the EU's internet activities around the world and stores and sifts through that data, even if it is an
email or a call between two British or EU citizens. Furthermore, the UK has granted the US National Security Agency unlimited access to this data.
These practices appear to have been authorized by government ministers on a routine rolling basis, in secret. Existing oversight mechanisms (the Interception of Communications Commissioner, the Intelligence Services Commissioner, the Parliamentary
Intelligence and Security Committee and the Investigatory Powers Tribunal) have failed. The legislation that is supposed to balance our rights with the interests of the security services is toothless.
That is why Big Brother Watch, Open Rights Group, English PEN and Constanze Kurz have taken the unusual step of instructing a legal team to pursue legal action on our behalf and on behalf of all internet users in the UK and EU. First, our lawyers wrote
to the government demanding that it accepts that its authorization practices have been unlawful and that it consult on a new, transparent set of laws for the future. The government refused and invited us to submit a case to the Investigatory Powers
Tribunal. But the Tribunal is a creature of the very statutory regime which has failed and would not offer an effective remedy. It is unable to rule that the legislative regime breaches our privacy rights, it is conducted largely in secret and there is
no right of appeal. The European Court of Human Rights has previously decided that this tribunal does not provide an effective remedy for privacy victims. So we will take our case directly to the European Court of Human Rights. It will decide whether the
government's surveillance activities and the existing legislation sufficiently protect the privacy of UK and EU internet users.
Secret servers and a privileged position on the internet's backbone used to identify users and attack target computers. A Fascinating and technical insight into how the snoopers can hijack your computer via Quantum Injections
Thousands of Islamic extremists in the UK see the British public as a legitimate target for attacks, the director general of MI5 has warned. Andrew Parker was making his first public speech since taking over as head of the UK Security Service in April.
Al-Qaeda and its affiliates in Pakistan and Yemen present the most direct and immediate threats to the UK, he said. He added that the security services must have access to the many means of communication which terrorists now use. He warned:
It remains the case that there are several thousand Islamist extremists here who see the British public as a legitimate target. Being on our radar does not necessarily mean being under our microscope.
The reality of intelligence work in practice is that we only focus the most intense intrusive attention on a small number of cases at any one time. The challenge therefore concerns making choices between multiple and competing demands to give us the best
chance of being in the right place at the right time to prevent terrorism.
Parker's speech also went on to reveal some of the fears and frustrations his service was experiencing over both the advances in technology and those who leak government secrets into the public domain. He warned that terrorists now had tens of thousands
of means of communication through e-mail, IP telephony, in-game communication, social networking, chat rooms, anonymising services and a myriad of mobile apps .
Parker said it was vital for MI5 - and by inference its partner GCHQ - to retain the capability to access such information if the Security Service was to protect the country.
Intelligence officials in both the US and Britain have been absolutely dismayed at the wealth of secret data taken by the former CIA contractor Edward Snowden when he fled to Russia. Without mentioning Snowden by name, Parker said it causes enormous
damage to make public the reach and limits of GCHQ techniques .
A VPN provider says that concerns it may be forced to hand over its encryption keys to United States authorities have led it to take the decision to shut down its consumer services. CryptoSeal says that information revealed as part of the Lavabit case
has undermined its original understanding of United States law and made its position untenable. Shutting down, the company says, is the only solution to protect customer privacy.
The company said in a statement:
With immediate effect as of this notice, CryptoSeal Privacy , our consumer VPN service, is terminated. All cryptographic keys used in the operation of the service have been zerofilled, and while no logs were produced (by design) during operation of the
service, all records created incidental to the operation of the service have been deleted to the best of our ability.
Essentially, the service was created and operated under a certain understanding of current US law, and that understanding may not currently be valid. As we are a US company and comply fully with US law, but wish to protect the privacy of our users, it is
impossible for us to continue offering the CryptoSeal Privacy consumer VPN product, the company says.
The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned by threats against the press made by UK Prime Minister David Cameron in parliament.
Cameron said, It would be very difficult for government to stand back and not to act against the press if newspapers don't demonstrate some social responsibility and stop reporting on National Security Agency files leaked by U.S.
whistleblower Edward Snowden. Cameron singled out the Guardian, saying that the paper had gone on and printed further material which is damaging after having already been accused of harming national security.
CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said:
If David Cameron has evidence that the Guardian or other publications have damaged U.K. national security, he should share this evidence instead of issuing vague threats about taking action. Governments around the world look to the U.K. as a model
for media policies, but in this case, Cameron seems to be taking a page from the book of less enlightened governments that invoke 'social responsibility' to ward off valid criticism.
Cameron mentioned the possibility of resorting to news censorship, through high court injunctions and Defence Advisory notices or through other tougher measures, the Guardian reported .
Two email providers, forced to close their services after the NSA demanded a backdoor, have proposed a new open standard for secure email that would be harder for security services and others to eavesdrop upon.
The encrypted email service Lavabit, and Silent Circle, a firm also encrypting phone calls and texts, are the founding members of the Darkmail Alliance, a service that aims to prevent government agencies from listening in on the metadata of emails.
The metadata is the information bundled up with the content of an email such as that showing the sender, the recipient and date the message was sent. Conventional email can never be made fully secure because the standard requires some metadata to be sent
Mike Janke, Silent Circle's chief executive and co-founder, said:
We want to get another dozen to two dozen email providers up and running on Darkmail architecture so that at any one time citizens of the world can choose two dozen email providers to get their email service from.
He said that the services Lavabit and Silent Mail kept too much data on the provider's server:
So what happened is you saw nation states can go to an email provider and coerce them into turning over the keys and decrypting.
The proposal of the alliance, it says, is as close to being compatible with conventional email as can be; users can send and receive insecure emails with contacts on normal services, and it is only when an email is sent between two accounts within the
alliance that the message is encrypted and routed from one peer to the other without going through a central server.
The ultimate aim is to get the big email providers, such as Microsoft , Yahoo ! and Gmail , using the new standard too.
Britain is holding up an agreement on internet freedom among the 47 members of Europe's human rights watchdog after objecting to a probe into the gathering of vast amounts of electronic data by intelligence agencies.
The government is declining to endorse a political declaration by the Council of Europe that could conclude that Britain's mass snooping regime is illegal.
Britain intervened during a Council of Europe ministerial conference on Friday in Belgrade, Freedom of Expression and Democracy in the Digital Age , where a document was due to be signed by the 47 members of the body. The document, entitled Political Declaration and Resolutions
, says that the Council of Europe should examine whether the gathering of data by intelligence agencies is consistent with the European Convention on Human Rights.
Shami Chakrabarti , the director of Liberty, said:
Bad enough that our authorities engaged in blanket surveillance without democratic mandate or legal authority; worse still when they attacked the ethical journalists who exposed that scandal. Now they delay the Council of Europe's action on the issue and
risk turning Britain into an arrogant bad boy on the world stage. The nation that led the establishment of post-war European human rights now jeers at the Strasbourg court and tolerates no scrutiny for spooks or privacy for ordinary people. Churchill
must be spinning in his grave.
Liam Fox, the former Defence Secretary has called for the Guardian newspaper to be prosecuted over its role in disclosing information about Britain's mass surveillance system.
Fox has written to Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), urging her to set out whether the newspaper breached counter-terrorism laws by publishing secrets which were stolen by the former US spy contractor Edward Snowden .
Fox accuses The Guardian's editor Alan Rusbridger of:
Exhibit[ing] no sense of understanding, never mind remorse, about what damage might have been done to the safety of individuals or the country.
The former defence secretary's letter asks the DPP how a prosecution against the Guardian could be initiated , although Fox has not yet indicated whether he would be prepared to trigger such action himself.
In an article for The Telegraph , Fox says he recognised surveillance by government agencies was a legitimate topic for debate. But he accused The Guardian of collaborating in indiscriminate publication of material which had damaged national
Fox's intervention comes after the nation's three leading spy chiefs last week told Parliament that terrorists around the world have already been monitored discussing how to evade surveillance by implementing knowledge gleaned from Snowden's leaks .
The United Nations General Assembly should approve a new resolution and make clear that indiscriminate surveillance is never consistent with the right to privacy, five human rights organizations said in a November 21, 2013 letter to members of the United
Nations General Assembly.
After heated negotiations, the draft resolution on digital privacy initiated by Brazil and Germany emerged on November 21 relatively undamaged, despite efforts by the United States and other members of the Five Eyes group to weaken its language.
Although a compromise avoided naming mass extraterritorial surveillance explicitly as a human rights violation, the resolution directs the UN high commissioner for human rights to report to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly on the
protection and promotion of privacy in the context of domestic and extraterritorial surveillance... including on a mass scale. The resolution will ensure that this issue stays on the front burner at the UN. A vote on the resolution is expected in
the next week.
The resolution would be the first major statement by the UN on privacy in 25 years, crucially reiterating the importance of protecting privacy and free expression in the face of technological advancements and encroaching state power.
We are deeply concerned that the countries representing the Five Eyes surveillance alliance -- the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and the United Kingdom -- have sought to weaken the resolution at the risk of undercutting their own
longstanding public commitment to privacy and free expression, the groups said in their letter:
To All Member States of the United Nations General Assembly
The right to privacy is central to who we are as humans and is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It protects us from unwarranted intrusions into our daily lives, allows us
to speak freely without fear of retribution, and helps keep our personal information, including health records, political affiliations, sexual orientation, and familial histories, safe. Indiscriminate mass surveillance, which tramples individuals' right
to privacy and undermines the social contract we all have with the State, must come to end immediately.
That is why we welcome efforts at the United Nations to adopt a resolution
on "The right to privacy in the digital age." Should it be adopted, the resolution, introduced by Brazil and Germany, would be the first major statement by the UN on privacy in 25 years. A strong resolution would crucially reiterate the
importance of protecting privacy and free expression in the face of technological advancements and encroaching State power. It would also build on the strong stance taken by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, and the UN Special
Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue, in recent months, as well as the International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance, an initiative supported by 300 organizations from around the
As negotiations continue on this draft resolution, we are deeply concerned that the countries representing the "Five Eyes" surveillance alliance--the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom--have sought to weaken
the resolution at the risk of undercutting their own longstanding public commitment to privacy and free expression. In discussion of the draft resolution, we urge these countries and the entire General Assembly to protect the right to privacy and take
into account these basic points:
Privacy is intrinsically linked to freedom of expression and many other rights:
The mere existence of domestic legislation is not all that is required to make surveillance lawful under international law;
Indiscriminate mass surveillance is never legitimate as intrusions on privacy must always be genuinely necessary and proportionate;
When States conduct extraterritorial surveillance, thereby exerting control over the privacy and rights of persons, they have obligations to respect privacy and related rights beyond the limits of their own borders;
Privacy is also interfered with even when metadata and other third party communications are intercepted and collected.
We call upon all States meeting at the UN General Assembly this week to take a stand against indiscriminate mass surveillance, interception and data collection, both at home and abroad; to support the draft resolution, and to uphold the right of all
individuals to use information and communication technologies such as the internet without fear of unwarranted interference.
This is a critical moment for the protection of privacy around the world.
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Human Rights Watch
Google's Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt has made a bold prediction:
Censorship around the world could end in a decade, and better use of encryption will help people overcome government surveillance.
First they try to block you; second, they try to infiltrate you; and third, you win. I really think that's how it works. Because the power is shifted.
I believe there's a real chance that we can eliminate censorship and the possibility of censorship in a decade.
The solution to government surveillance is to encrypt everyone.
With sufficiently long keys and changing the keys all the time, it turns out it's very, very difficult for the interloper of any kind to go in and do that.
It's pretty clear to me that government surveillance and the way in which governments are doing this will be here to stay in some form, because it's how the citizens will express themselves, and the governments will want to know what they're doing.
In that race, I think the censors will lose, and I think that people would be empowered.
Offsite Comment: Google could end China's web censorship in 10 days -- why doesn't it?
The Guardian has won a Liberty award for articles about GCHQ and NSA spying. The newspaper was named Independent Voice of the Year in recognition of ethical journalism essential to the rule of law
The award "recognises the courage it requires to speak out against injustice when others will not, to make a stand when no one else will and to put the truth before all else, even at great cost".
Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said:
Whatever your position on blanket surveillance, the people and their parliament have a right to debate it and there can be no debate about what we do not know. In a time of deceit, telling the truth seems revolutionary. Spy chiefs should reflect on
whether their occasional inconvenience isn't essential to the democracy they serve.
The Guardian's editor, Alan Rusbridger, accepted the award at a ceremony and said:
What was worrying Edward Snowden was that we were, unknowingly, sleep-walking into a society where the infrastructure of total surveillance was being built behind our backs, without any discussion or wide public knowledge. This does need to be discussed,
as calmer heads in security agencies now recognise. I am very proud to pick up this award in recognition of the Guardian's role in stimulating that necessary debate.
An international coalition of human rights and privacy organizations has launched an action center to oppose mass surveillance on the global stage: necessaryandproportionate.org/take-action . The new petition site went live just as the United Nations
voted on a resolution to recognize the need for the international community to come to terms with new digital surveillance techniques.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), along with Access and Privacy International, took a leadership role in developing the campaign. The new action center allows individuals from around the world to sign their names to a petition in support of the
International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance . Also known as the Necessary and Proportionate Principles, the document outlines 13 policies that governments must follow to protect human rights in an
age of digital surveillance---including acknowledgement that communications surveillance threatens free speech and privacy and should only be carried out in exceptional cases and under the rule of law.
Once the signatures are collected, the organizations will deliver the petition to the UN, world leaders and global policymakers. Over 300 organizations, plus many individual experts, have already signed the petition.
EFF International Rights Director Katitza Rodriguez said:
Surveillance can and does threaten human rights. Even laws intended to protect national security or combat crime will inevitably lead to abuse if left unchecked and kept secret. The Necessary and Proportionate Principles set the groundwork for applying
human rights values to digital surveillance techniques through transparency, rigorous oversight and privacy protections that transcend borders.
The UN General Assembly's unanimously adopted Resolution A/C.3/68/L.45 , The Right to Privacy in the Digital Age . Sponsored by 47 nations, the non-binding resolution recognizes the importance of privacy and free expression and how these
core principles of democracy may be threatened when governments exploit new communications technologies. Rodriguez said:
While not as strong as the original draft resolution , the United Nations resolution is a meaningful and very positive step for the privacy rights of individuals, no matter what country they call home. We will be watching to see if countries such as
China, Russia or even the US use the resolution to legitimize their mass surveillance programs. That is why it's important for nations to go further and comply with the Necessary and Proportionate principles.
The organizations behind the Action Center include Access, Chaos Computer Club, Center for Internet & Society-India, Center for Technology and Society at Fundac,a~o Getulio Vargas, Digitale Gesellschaft, Digital Courage, EFF, OpenMedia.ca, Open
Rights Group, Fundacion Karisma, Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic, SHARE Foundation, and Privacy International.
Index on Censorship is writing to you ahead of Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger's appearance before the Home Affairs Select Committee's hearing on counter terrorism.
We believe that the Guardian's publication of details of GCHQ's digital surveillance techniques has been very much in the public interest.
Mass data retention and monitoring is a hugely important issue. As more and more of our lives are lived online, it is only right that British people should know how and why the security services gather and monitor digital information. We should be able
to debate whether the security services are acting legitimately, legally and proportionately, or are going beyond what is suitable and proper in any democratic, rights-based society. The Guardian's revelations should be the beginning of a public debate
on how this work is done, and with what oversights.
We are concerned that rather than a debate being opened up, the focus has instead been on criticising the Guardian's work, with even the Prime Minister threatening to take action against the newspaper if it did not take ?social responsibility?. Index on
Censorship maintains that the Guardian has shown great social responsibility in investigating, reporting and publishing the details of this story, having maintained open communication with security services and the DA Notice committee.
The Guardian has also lived up to the responsibility of a free press to reveal facts and issues of interest to the public. A British newspaper should be able to report on these issues without fear of retribution. But comments made by politicians and the
security services made have led many round the world to question Britain's commitment to press freedom. For example, the New-York based Committee to Protect Journalists rightly pointed out that: ?Governments around the world look to the UK as a model for
media policies, but in this case, Cameron seems to be taking a page from the book of less enlightened governments that invoke social responsibility to ward off valid criticism.?
Finally, Index on Censorship is troubled by the use of counter-terror measures to detain David Miranda, the partner of former Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald. We believe the use of terror legislation to obtain journalistic materials, without court
oversight, is a threat to free expression and to anyone involved in journalism. As part of a coalition of newspapers, journalists? organisations and campaigners which submitted an intervention to the judicial review of Mr Miranda's detention at Heathrow
airport, we are concerned that using Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 against people engaged in journalistic activities runs a real risk of conflating journalism--particularly journalism investigating the intelligence services--with terrorism.
The human rights group Amnesty International has announces that it is taking legal action against the UK government over concerns its communications have been illegally accessed by UK intelligence services.
Amnesty said it was highly likely its emails and phone calls have been intercepted and issued a claim at the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) arguing that the interception of its communications would be in breach of article 8 (right to privacy)
and article 10 (right to freedom of expression) of the Human Rights Act.
Michael Bochenek, director of law and policy for the human rights group, said:
As a global organisation working on many sensitive issues that would be of particular interest to security services in the US and UK, we are deeply troubled by the prospect that the communications of our staff may have been intercepted.
We regularly receive sensitive information from sources in situations that mean their co-operation with Amnesty could present a real risk to their safety and the safety of their family. Any prospect that this type of communication is being intercepted by
the US and UK through their mass surveillance programmes raises substantive concerns and presents a real threat to the effectiveness of Amnesty International's work.
In recent months, the extent of mass surveillance has become common knowledge. With a few clicks of the mouse the state can access your mobile device, your email, your social networking and internet searches. It can follow your
political leanings and activities and, in partnership with internet corporations, it collects and stores your data, and thus can predict your consumption and behaviour.
The basic pillar of democracy is the inviolable integrity of the individual. Human integrity extends beyond the physical body. In their thoughts and in their personal environments and communications, all humans have the right to
remain unobserved and unmolested.
This fundamental human right has been rendered null and void through abuse of technological developments by states and corporations for mass surveillance purposes.
A person under surveillance is no longer free; a society under surveillance is no longer a democracy. To maintain any validity, our democratic rights must apply in virtual as in real space.
Surveillance violates the private sphere and compromises freedom of thought and opinion.
Mass surveillance treats every citizen as a potential suspect. It overturns one of our historical triumphs, the presumption of innocence.
Surveillance makes the individual transparent, while the state and the corporation operate in secret. As we have seen, this power is being systemically abused.
Surveillance is theft. This data is not public property: it belongs to us. When it is used to predict our behaviour, we are robbed of something else: the principle of free will crucial to democratic liberty.
WE DEMAND THE RIGHT for all people to determine, as democratic citizens, to what extent their personal data may be legally collected, stored and processed, and by whom; to obtain information on where their data is stored and how it
is being used; to obtain the deletion of their data if it has been illegally collected and stored.
WE CALL ON ALL STATES AND CORPORATIONS to respect these rights.
WE CALL ON ALL CITIZENS to stand up and defend these rights.
WE CALL ON THE UNITED NATIONS to acknowledge the central importance of protecting civil rights in the digital age, and to create an international bill of digital rights.
WE CALL ON GOVERNMENTS to sign and adhere to such a convention.
Signed by more than 500 writers from around the world including the following from the UK:
Akkas Al-Ali, Tariq Ali, David Almond, Martin Amis, Julian Barnes, Priya Basil, John Berger, Jane Borodale, John Burnside, Louis de Bernières, Isobel Dixon, Joanne Harris, Kazuo Ishiguro, Pico Iyer, Stephen Kelman, Hari Kunzru, Ian McEwan, David
Mitchell, Stella Newman, Henry Porter, Martin Rowson, Manda Scott, Will Self, Owen Sheers, Philip Sington, Tom Stoppard, Adam Thirwell, David Vann, Nigel Warbuton, Irvine Welsh, Jeanette Winterson, Rana Dasgupta, Anjali Joseph, Nikita Lalwani, Fadia
Faqir, Hanif Kureishi, Lionel Shriver
We understand that governments have a duty to protect their citizens. But this summer's revelations highlighted the urgent need to reform government surveillance practices worldwide. The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favor of the state
and away from the rights of the individual --- rights that are enshrined in our Constitution. This undermines the freedoms we all cherish. It's time for a change.
For our part, we are focused on keeping users' data secure --- deploying the latest encryption technology to prevent unauthorized surveillance on our networks and by pushing back on government requests to ensure that they are legal and reasonable in
We urge the US to take the lead and make reforms that ensure that government surveillance efforts are clearly restricted by law, proportionate to the risks, transparent and subject to independent oversight. To see the full set of principles we support,
French intelligence, the police and many others will be able to spy on internet users in real time and without authorisation, under a law passed on Wednesday.
The legislation, which was approved almost unnoticed, will enable a wide range of public officials including police, gendarmes, intelligence and anti-terrorist agencies as well as several government ministries to monitor computer, tablet and smartphone
The spying clause, part of a new military programming law, comes just weeks after France, which considers individual privacy a pillar of human rights, expressed outrage at revelations that the US National Security Agency (NSA) had been intercepting phone
calls in France.
Article 13 of the new law will allow not just the security forces but intelligence services from the defence, interior, economy and budget ministries to see electronic and digital communications in real time to discover who is connected to whom,
what they are communicating and where they are.
Opponents are considering whether to refer the legislation to the constitutional court, France's highest legal authority, over the question of public freedom.
Whistle blower Edward Snowden has delivered an alternative UK Christmas message, urging an end to mass surveillance.
The broadcast was carried on Channel 4 as an alternative to the Queen's traditional Christmas message.
Snowden focused on privacy, saying: A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all. Snowden opened his two-minute message, recorded in Russia, with a reference to novelist George Orwell, author of 1984, saying the
surveillance technology described in his works was nothing compared to what we have today .
A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all. They'll never know what it means to have a private moment to themselves, an unrecorded, unanalysed thought.
The conversation occurring today will determine the amount of trust we can place both in the technology that surrounds us and the government that regulates it.
Together we can find a better balance, end mass surveillance and remind the government that if it really wants to know how we feel, asking is always cheaper than spying.
Internet privacy as important as human rights, says UN's human rights chief, Navi Pillay. She compared the uproar in the international community caused by revelations of mass surveillance with the collective response that helped bring down the apartheid
regime in South Africa.
Pillay has been asked by the UN to prepare a report on protection of the right to privacy, in the wake of the former National Security Agency analyst Edward Snowden leaking classified documents about UK and US spying and the collection of personal data.
I don't grade human rights. I feel I have to look after and promote the rights of all persons. I'm not put off by the lifetime experience of violations I have seen.
Combined and collective action by everybody can end serious violations of human rights ... That experience inspires me to go on and address the issue of internet [privacy], which right now is extremely troubling because the revelations of surveillance
have implications for human rights ... People are really afraid that all their personal details are being used in violation of traditional national protections.
A legal battle over the scope of US government surveillance took a turn in favour of the National Security Agency with a court opinion declaring that bulk collection of telephone data does not violate the constitution.
The judgement, in a case brought before a district court in New York by the American Civil Liberties Union, directly contradicts the result of a similar challenge in a Washington court last week which ruled the NSA's bulk collection program was likely to
prove unconstitutional and was almost Orwellian in scale.
Friday's ruling makes it more likely that the issue will be settled by the US supreme court, although it may be overtaken by the decision of Barack Obama on whether to accept the recommendations of a White House review panel to ban the NSA from directly
collecting such data.
Judge Pauley said privacy protections enshrined in the fourth amendment of the US constitution needed to be balanced against a government need to maintain a database of records to prevent future terrorist attacks:
The right to be free from searches is fundamental but not absolute. Whether the fourth amendment protects bulk telephony metadata is ultimately a question of reasonableness.
The American Civil Liberties Union gave notice on Thursday that it will continue its legal case challenging the constitutionality of the National Security Agency's collection of all US phone records, drawing the federal appeals courts into a decision on
the controversial surveillance.
A federal judge in New York, William Pauley, gave the NSA a critical courtroom victory last week when he found the ACLU has no traction in arguing that intercepting the records of every phone call made in the United States is a violation of the
constitutional protection against unreasonable search and seizures.
As expected, on Thursday the ACLU filed notice that it will appeal Pauley's decision before the second circuit court of appeals. The civil liberties group said in a statement that it anticipates making its case before the appellate court in the spring.
The government has a legitimate interest in tracking the associations of suspected terrorists, but tracking those associations does not require the government to subject every citizen to permanent surveillance, deputy ACLU legal director Jameel
Jaffer said in the statement.
The European Parliament has wrapped up its inquiry into mass surveillance. In a draft report, politicians are being hard on all sides - the US government, the NSA, but also on hesitant EU governments and companies.
The report says that the recent revelations in the press by whistleblowers and journalists, together with the expert evidence given during the inquiry, have resulted in:
Compelling evidence of the existence of far-reaching, complex and highly technologically advanced systems designed by US and some Member States' intelligence services to collect, store and analyze communication and location data and metadata of all
citizens around the world on an unprecedented scale and in an indiscriminate and non-suspicion-based manner.
The authors explicitly point at Britain's signals intelligence agency GCHQ and its upstream surveillance activity (Tempora program) as well as decryption program (Edgehill), and add that it's quite likely that programs of a similar nature as the NSA's
and GCHQ's exist - even if on a more limited scale - in countries like France, Germany and Sweden:
The fight against terrorism can never in itself be a justification for untargeted, secret and sometimes even illegal mass surveillance programs.
Claude Moraes and his fellow rapporteurs showed themselves unconvinced that the NSA's only goal is the fight against terrorism, as the US government has claimed. In their draft report, European politicians suspect that there are instead other power
motives, such as political and economic espionage.
Moraes wrote that privacy is not a luxury right, but the ... foundation stone of a free and democratic society. Above all, the draft report condemns the vast, systemic, blanket collection of the personal data of innocent people.
The Guardian reveals mass that state snoops have a programme of mass interception and analysis of people's phone messages:
The National Security Agency has collected almost 200 million text messages a day from across the globe, using them to extract data including location, contact networks and credit card details, according to top-secret documents.
The untargeted collection and storage of SMS messages -- including their contacts -- is revealed in a joint investigation between the Guardian and the UK's Channel 4 News based on material provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The documents also reveal the UK spy agency GCHQ has made use of the NSA database to search the metadata of untargeted and unwarranted communications belonging to people in the UK.
The NSA program, codenamed Dishfire, collects pretty much everything it can , according to GCHQ documents, rather than merely storing the communications of existing surveillance targets.
The NSA has made extensive use of its vast text message database to extract information on people's travel plans, contact books, financial transactions and more -- including of individuals under no suspicion of illegal activity.
Big Brother Watch responds with some pertinent questions:
Today's Guardian newspaper carries an alarming report about an NSA database of text messages, including those sent by British people. While messages belonging to US citizens are deleted, those belonging to British citizens are not.
First we need to know how the NSA was able to get access to UK telephone networks and scoop up millions of our texts. Then we need to know who authorised it and why they decided to hand over the private messages of people under no suspicion whatsoever to
the Americans without any public or Parliamentary debate.
If an interception warrant for an individual is not in place, it is illegal to look at the content of a message. Descriptions of content derived metadata suggest the content of texts is being collected and inspected in bulk and if this is the case GCHQ
has serious questions to answer about whether it is operating under a perverse interpretation of the law cooked up in secret.
The telecoms companies providing our mobile phone services need to urgently reassure their customers that they are not handing over our data in bulk to the UK or US governments. GCHQ should not be using foreign agencies to get around British laws.
In two tense meetings last June and July the cabinet secretary, Jeremy Heywood, explicitly warned the Guardian's editor, Alan Rusbridger, to return the Snowden documents.
Heywood, sent personally by David Cameron, told the editor to stop publishing articles based on leaked material from American's National Security Agency and GCHQ . At one
point Heywood said: "We can do this nicely or we can go to law". He added: "A lot of people in government think you should be closed down."
With the threat of punitive legal action ever present, the only way of protecting the Guardian's team -- and of carrying on reporting from another jurisdiction -- was for the paper to destroy its own computers. GCHQ officials wanted to inspect
the material before destruction, carry out the operation themselves and take the remnants away. The Guardian refused [and did the job themselves].
The Snowden revelations have confirmed our worst fears about online spying. They show that the NSA and its allies have been building
a global surveillance infrastructure to "master the internet" and spy on the world's communications. These shady groups have undermined basic encryption standards, and riddled the Internet's backbone with surveillance equipment. They
have collected the phone records of hundreds of millions of people none of whom are suspected of any crime. They have swept up the electronic communications of millions of people at home and overseas indiscriminately, exploiting the digital
technologies we use to connect and inform. They spy on the population of allies, and share that data with other organizations, all outside the rule of law.
We aren't going to let the NSA and its allies ruin the Internet. Inspired by the memory of Aaron Swartz, fueled by our victory against SOPA and ACTA, the global digital rights community are uniting to fight back.
On February 11, on the Day We Fight Back, the world will demand an end to mass surveillance in every country, by every state, regardless of boundaries or politics. The SOPA and ACTA protests were successful because we all took part, as a
community. As Aaron Swartz put it, everybody "made themselves the hero of their own story." We can set a date, but we need everyone, all the users of the Global Internet, to make this a movement.
Here's part of our plan (but it's just the beginning). Last year, before Ed Snowden had spoken to the world, digital rights activists united on 13
. The Principles spelled out just why mass surveillance was a violation of human rights, and gave sympathetic lawmakers and judges a list of fixes they could apply to the lawless Internet spooks. On the day we fight back, we want the world to
sign onto those principles. We want politicians to pledge to uphold them. We want the world to see we care.
Here's how you can join the effort:
1. We're encouraging websites to point to the Day We Fight Back website, which will allow people from around the world to sign onto our 13 Principles, and fight back against mass surveillance by the NSA, GCHQ, and other intelligence agencies.
If you can let your colleagues know about the campaign and the website ( thedaywefightback.org
) before the day, we can send them information on the campaign in each country.
2. Tell your friends to sign the 13 Principles! We will be revamping our global action center at en.necessaryandproportionate.org/take-action
to align ourselves with the day of action. We'll continue to use the Principles to show world leaders that privacy is a human right and should be protected regardless of frontiers.
3. Email: If you need an excuse to contact your members or colleagues about this topic, February 11th is the perfect time to tell them to contact local politicians about Internet spying, encourage them to take their own actions and understand
the importance of fighting against mass surveillance.
4. Social media: Tweet! Post on Facebook and Google Plus! We want to make as big of a splash as possible. We want this to be a truly global campaign, with every country involved. The more people are signing the Principles, the more world
leaders will hear our demands to put a stop to mass spying at home and overseas.
5. Tools: Develop memes, tools, websites, and do whatever else you can to encourage others to participate.
6. Be creative: plan your own actions and pledge. Take to the streets. Promote the Principles in your own country. Then, let us know what your plan is, so we can link and re-broadcast your efforts.
All 6 (or more!) would be great, but honestly the movement benefits from everything you do.
Politicians and human rights groups have reacted angrily to revelations that Britain's spy agency disgracefully intercepted and stored webcam images of millions of people with the aid of its US counterpart.
GCHQ files dating between 2008 and 2010 reveal that a surveillance program codenamed Optic Nerve collected images of Yahoo webcam chats in bulk and saved them to agency databases, regardless of whether individual users were an intelligence target
In one six-month period in 2008, the agency collected webcam images, including substantial quantities of sexually explicit material, from more than 1.8 million Yahoo user accounts globally.
The Optic Nerve documents were provided by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. They show that the programme began as a prototype in 2008 and was still active in 2012.
The Tory MP David Davis said:
We now know that millions of Yahoo account holders were filmed without their knowledge through their webcams, the images of which were subsequently stored by GCHQ and the NSA . This is, frankly, creepy.
The Liberal Democrat MP Julian Huppert said he was:
Absolutely shocked at the revelation. This seems like a very clear invasion of privacy , and I simply can not see what the justification is.
Nick Pickles, the director of the civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch, said intercepting and taking photographs from millions of people's webcam chats was as creepy as it gets .
We have CCTV on our streets and now we have GCHQ in our homes. It is right that the security services can target people and tap their communications, but they should not be doing it to millions of people. This is an indiscriminate and intimate
intrusion on people's privacy.
Theresa May summoned internet giant Yahoo to an urgent meeting to raise security concerns after the company announced plans to move to Dublin where it is beyond the reach of Britain's snooping free-for-all.
By making the Irish capital rather than London the centre of its European, Middle East and Africa operations, Yahoo cannot be forced to hand over information demanded by the police and security agencies through warrants issued under
Britain's controversial anti-terror laws.
Yahoo has had longstanding concerns about securing the privacy of its hundreds of millions of users -- anxieties that have been heightened in recent months by revelations from the whistleblower Edward Snowden. The company said this represented a whole new level of violation of our users' privacy
The Guardian reported that it had been told that Charles Farr, the head of the office for security and counter-terrorism (OSCT) within the Home Office, has been pressing May to talk to Yahoo because of anxiety in Scotland Yard's counter-terrorism
command about the effect the move to Dublin could have on their inquiries. A Whitehall source explained:
There are concerns in the Home Office about how Ripa will apply to Yahoo once it has moved its headquarters to Dublin. The home secretary asked to see officials from Yahoo because in Dublin they don't have equivalent laws to Ripa. This could
particularly affect investigations led by Scotland Yard and the national crime agency. They regard this as a very serious issue.
The move to make Dublin will take effect from Friday.
Amid revelations that the US National Security Agency has the ability for the mass interception of data going between servers and other computers, tech giant Google now says it will encrypt all messages sent through its Gmail email service to
restrict prying eyes from looking at private messages.
In a blog post made by head Gmail security engineer Nicolas Lidzborski, Google said that every time a user checks or sent email, it will be encryped as the data goes to and from Google's servers.
Although Google has given Gmail users the ability to sign into their accouints through an encrypted connection (known as HTTPS) since 2010, Gmail will now automatically default users to the more secure network.
In addition, every single email message you send or receive---100 percent of them---is encrypted while moving internally, the post reads. This ensures that your messages are safe not only when they move between you and Gmail's servers, but also
as they move between Google's data centers---something we made a top priority after last summer's revelations.
However, Google hasn't NSA-proofed Gmail completely. The agency still has the ability to send out National Security Letters compelling a company to release information. And the federal government hasn't been shy requesting data from Google. In a
transparency report , Google said that for the first half of 2013, it received 25,879 requests for user information from government agencies and courts.
In a landmark ruling, the European Court of Justice has declared the EU's Data Retention directive to be a violation of Internet users' privacy.
Under the Directive Internet providers and other telecom companies were required to log and store vast amounts of information, including who their subscribers communicate with, and what IP-addresses they use.
The local authorities could then use this information to fight serious crimes, but it was also been frequently used by third parties, in online piracy cases for example.
The Court ruled that the data collection requirements are disproportionate:
The Court is of the opinion that, by adopting the Data Retention Directive, the EU legislature has exceeded the limits imposed by compliance with the principle of proportionality.
By requiring the retention of those data and by allowing the competent national authorities to access those data, the directive interferes in a particularly serious manner with the fundamental rights to respect for private life and to the protection of
It's now up to the individual member states to change local laws accordingly. Meanwhile the Swedish provider Bahnhof immediately announced that it would wipe all subscriber data it stored. Bahnhof CEO Jon Karlung said:
Bahnhof stops all data storage with immediate effect. In addition, we will delete the information that was already saved.
For a distinguished example of meritorious public service by a newspaper or news site through the use of its journalistic resources, including the use of stories, editorials, cartoons, photographs, graphics, videos, databases, multimedia or interactive
presentations or other visual material, a gold medal.
Awarded to The Washington Post for its revelation of widespread secret surveillance by the National Security Agency, marked by authoritative and insightful reports that helped the public understand how the disclosures fit into the larger framework of
Awarded to The Guardian US for its revelation of widespread secret surveillance by the National Security Agency, helping through aggressive reporting to spark a debate about the relationship between the government and the public over issues of security
A highly critical report by the Commons home affairs select committee published on Friday calls for a radical reform of the current system of oversight of MI5 , MI6 and GCHQ , arguing that the current system is so ineffective it is undermining the
credibility of the intelligence agencies and parliament itself.
The MPs say the current system was designed in a pre-internet age when a person's word was accepted without question. Committee chairman, Keith Vaz said:
It is designed to scrutinise the work of George Smiley, not the 21st-century reality of the security and intelligence services. The agencies are at the cutting edge of sophistication and are owed an equally refined system of democratic scrutiny. It is an
embarrassing indictment of our system that some in the media felt compelled to publish leaked information to ensure that matters were heard in parliament.
The cross-party report is the first British parliamentary acknowledgement that Snowden's disclosures of the mass harvesting of personal phone and internet data need to lead to serious improvements in the oversight and accountability of the security
Malcolm Rifkind the Tory chairman of parliament's intelligence and security committee that is supposed to be monitoring the security services attacked Snowden and his supporters for their insidious use of language such as mass surveillance and Orwellian.
Update: Privacy International file complaint against GCHQ
Privacy campaigners are seeking to stop GCHQ using unlawful hacking to help its surveillance efforts. Privacy International said the UK intelligence service has infected millions of devices to spy on citizens and scoop up personal data.
A 30-page legal complaint has been filed with the Investigatory Powers Tribunal which monitors whether the UK's spying laws are being observed.
In a statement , the Privacy International pressure group said the documents released by Edward Snowden had detailed the many ways that GCHQ was spying on people, many of which violated the European Convention on Human Rights which guarantees a right to
privacy and to freedom of expression.
Media professor Julian Petley has written a lengthy assessment of the way in which The Guardian's revelations NSA and GCHQ surveillance were negatively covered by the rest of the press. For example he notes about the Daily mail coverage:
The third, and overarching theme in the press campaign against the Guardian and on behalf of the government is national security.
The slant of the article is thus clearly apparent before one even reads it, and the piece itself is dependent entirely upon anonymous 'security officials' and 'Whitehall insiders' who claim variously that 'the publication of the documents stolen by
Edward Snowden is considered to have done more damage to the security services than any other event in history ', that
'there was no public interest in publishing top-secret information which details the precise methods used by agents to track terrorist plots', that 'fanatics were signposted to the places they should avoid when communicating', and that 'the Guardian had
helped to produce a "handbook" for terrorists' .
Every one of these anonymous quotes is highly contentious, yet there is not the slightest attempt to quote opposing or even merely sceptical viewpoints.
One year ago, we learned that the internet is under surveillance, and our activities are being monitored to create permanent records of our private lives -- no matter how innocent or ordinary those lives might be.
Today, we can begin the work of effectively shutting down the collection of our online communications, even if the US Congress fails to do the same. That's why I'm asking you to join me on June 5th for Reset the Net, when people and companies all over
the world will come together to implement the technological solutions that can put an end to the mass surveillance programs of any government. This is the beginning of a moment where we the people begin to protect our universal human rights with the laws
of nature rather than the laws of nations.
We have the technology, and adopting encryption is the first effective step that everyone can take to end mass surveillance. That's why I am excited for Reset the Net -- it will mark the moment when we turn political expression into practical action, and
protect ourselves on a large scale.
Join us on June 5th, and don't ask for your privacy. Take it back.
Don't Spy On Us: Day of Action
7th June 2014. From 13:15.
Shoreditch Town Hall, London
The performer Stephen Fry condemned the government's failure to act over the Snowden revelations at the start of the Don't Spy on Us Day of Action in London today. In a pre-reco rded video, Fry said that using the fear of terrorism, is a duplicitous
and deeply wrong means of excusing something as base as spying on the citizens of your own country.
Marking the anniversary of the start of the Snowden revelations, the Day of Action is the biggest privacy event of 2014, with over 500 people attending the conference at Shoreditch Town Hall. Speaking at the event are high profile experts in
technology, security and human rights, from all over the world. They include Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales who said: The tide is beginning to turn as the public comes to understand just how broken the surveillance state is.
Author and co-founder of the Open Rights Group, Cory Doctorow said:
Freedom from surveillance is essential to freedom itself. The freedom to think, to speak and to have discourse without fear of reprisal or judgement is at the core of democracy itself.
Security technologist and author, Bruce Schneier said:
We have to choose between surveillance or security: an internet that is vulnerable to all attackers or an internet that is secure for all users. In our interconnected world, security is more important.
The day of action was organised by the Don't Spy on Us Campaign, a coalition of privacy, free expression and digital rights organisations, that is calling for the government to put an end to mass surveillance by GCHQ.
Don't Spy on Us is calling for:
an inquiry to report before the next general election to investigate the extent to which the law has failed
new legislation that will make the security agencies accountable to our elected representatives.
judges not the Home Secretary to decide when spying is justified
an end to mass surveillance in line with our 6 principles (No surveillance without suspicion, Transparent laws not secret laws, Judicial not political authorisation, Effective democratic oversight, The right to redress, A secure web for all).
Thomas Hughes, Executive Director, ARTICLE 19:
"All of us have a right to free expression and a right to privacy, but these are violated by arbitrary mass surveillance programmes that assume guilt over innocence. If the UK, which prides itself on being an open and democratic nation,
continues to carry out mass surveillance on this scale, it gives carte blanche to oppressive regimes to keep spying on their citizens, restricting the space for free expression."
Emma Carr, acting director of Big Brother Watch:
"On the first anniversary of the spying revelations, we call on the Government to publicly recognise that the UK's surveillance law urgently needs reviewing and that the oversight mechanisms need strengthening. Without affirmative action the
Government will certainly find that the general public's faith in politicians to properly monitor how the security agencies are using surveillance powers will diminish. The law is out of date, the oversight is weak and the reporting of what happens is
patchy at best. The public is right to expect better and it is high time that the Government stops burying its head in the sand and accept that the current status quo must change."
Jo Glanville, Director, English PEN:
"The protection of the right to a private life is crucial for freedom of expression. None of us can freely exchange or record information and ideas without the expectation of privacy. Its been a year since we found out that GCHQ has been
engaging in blanket, unwarranted surveillance and our politicians have conspicuously failed to address our concerns or to protect our rights. They need to act now."
Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty:
"The game is up and the authorities busted on blanket surveillance pursued without democratic debate let alone legal authority. Now those in power need to know that we care. Events like 'Don't Spy On Us' are an important part of demonstrating that
fundamental breaches of trust have consequences."
Jim Killock, Open Rights Group:
"We've had a year of inaction, delay and obfuscation from the government. They can't avoid answering these questions forever. They're undermining everyone's confidence in the security services, parliament and the technologies we use
Gus Hosein, Executive Director of Privacy International:
Secret surveillance is an anathema to a democratic society, as no real debate can take place without an informed public. The Snowden documents have been critical in sparking this debate, and we must now advocate for laws that make the State's actions
transparent, subject to independent authorisation and effective oversight, and outline clear legal frameworks in accordance with democratic principles.
Vodafone , one of the world's largest mobile phone groups, has revealed the existence of secret facilities that allow government agencies to listen to all conversations on its networks, saying they are widely used in 29 countries in which it operates in
Europe and beyond.
The company has broken its silence on government surveillance in order to push back against the increasingly widespread use of phone and broadband networks to spy on citizens.
The company said lines had been connected directly to its network and those of other telecoms groups, allowing agencies to listen to or record live conversations and, in certain cases, track the whereabouts of a customer.
Privacy campaigners said the revelations were a nightmare scenario that confirmed their worst fears on the extent of snooping. Liberty director, Shami Chakrabarti said:
For governments to access phone calls at the flick of a switch is unprecedented and terrifying. [Edward] Snowden revealed the internet was already treated as fair game. Bluster that all is well is wearing pretty thin -- our analogue laws need a digital
Offsite Article: No transparency for the UK in Vodafone's transparency report
Britain's top counter-terrorism official has been forced to reveal a secret Government policy justifying the mass surveillance of every Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Google user in the UK.
This disturbing policy was made public due to a legal challenge brought by Privacy International, Liberty, Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union, Pakistani organisation Bytes for All, and five other national civil liberties
The statement, from Charles Farr, the Director General of the Office for Security and Counter Terrorism, claims that the indiscriminate interception of UK residents' Facebook and Google communications would be permitted under law because they are defined
as external communications .
Farr's statement, published today by the rights organisations, is the first time the Government has openly commented on how it thinks it can use the UK's vague surveillance legal framework to indiscriminately intercept communications through its mass
interception programme, TEMPORA.
The secret policy outlined by Farr defines almost all communications via Facebook and other social networking sites, as well as webmail services Hotmail and Yahoo and web searches via Google, to be external communications because they use
web-based platforms based in the US.
The distinction between internal and external communications is crucial. Under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act ('RIPA'), which regulates the surveillance powers of public bodies, internal communications may only be
intercepted under a warrant which relates to a specific individual or address. These warrants should only be granted where there is some suspicion of unlawful activity. However, an individual's external communications may be intercepted
indiscriminately, even where there are no grounds to suspect any wrongdoing.
By defining the use of platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Google as external communications , British residents are being deprived of the essential safeguards that would otherwise be applied to their communications - simply because
they are using services that are based outside the UK.
Such an approach suggests that GCHQ believes it is entitled to indiscriminately intercept all communications in and out of the UK. The explanations given by Mr Farr suggest that:
GCHQ is intercepting all communications - emails, text messages, and communications sent via platforms such as Facebook and Google -- before determining whether they fall into the internal or external categories The Government
considers almost all Facebook and other social media communications, and Google searches will always fall within the external category, even when such communications are between two people in the UK Classifying communications as external allows the Government to search through, read, listen to and look at each of them. The only restriction on what they do with communications that they classify as
external is that they cannot search through such communications using keywords or terms that mention a specific British person or residence. Even though the Government is conducting mass surveillance - intercepting and scanning through all
communications in order to work out whether they are internal or external - they consider that such interception has less importance than whether a person actually reads the communication, which is where the Government believes the substantive
interference with privacy arises . The Government believes that, even when privacy violations happen, it is not an active intrusion because the analyst reading or listening to an individual's communication will inevitably forget about it
The legal challenge is brought following revelations made by Edward Snowden about the UK's global digital surveillance activities. Farr is the government's star witness in the case, which will be heard by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal between 14 and
18 July 2014. Read our arguments here.
In addition to Farr's statement, we are publishing the witness statements from Dr Gus Hosein, Executive Director of Privacy International, and Eric King, Deputy Director of Privacy International. Additional evidence submitted by Privacy International,
from Dr Ian Brown, Oxford Internet Institute, and Cindy Cohn, Legal Director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, can be found here and here.
Eric King, Deputy Director of Privacy International said:
Intelligence agencies cannot be considered accountable to Parliament and to the public they serve when their actions are obfuscated through secret interpretations of byzantine laws. Moreover, the suggestion that violations of the right to privacy are
meaningless if the violator subsequently forgets about it not only offends the fundamental, inalienable nature of human rights, but patronises the British people, who will not accept such a meagre excuse for the loss of their civil liberties.
James Welch, Legal Director of Liberty said:
The security services consider that they're entitled to read, listen and analyse all our communications on Facebook, Google and other US-based platforms. If there was any remaining doubt that our snooping laws need a radical overhaul there can be no
longer. The Agencies now operate in a legal and ethical vacuum; why the deafening silence from our elected representatives?
Michael Bochenek, Senior Director of International Law and Policy at Amnesty International said:
British citizens will be alarmed to see their government justifying industrial-scale intrusion into their communications. The public should demand an end to this wholesale violation of their right to privacy.
Shahzad Ahmad, Country Director, Bytes for All
We've always believed that Tempora enables unlawful profiling of people living outside UK. Now we've come to learn that GCHQ are also subjecting UK residents to this intrusive spying. Such an action by UK intelligence agencies is sheer violation of
people's privacy, security, freedom of expression, and assembly. Such attempts by established democracies are setting extremely worrisome precedents for repressive regimes all over the world.
Emergency legislation will be brought in next week to force phone and internet companies to continuing logging customer calls, texts and internet use.
Ministers claim it is necessary so police and security services can access the data they need after a legal ruling which declared existing powers invalid. The proposed law has the backing of Labour and the coalition parties.
A recent ruling of the European Court of Justice has removed the obligation on telecoms companies to retain records of when and who their customers have called, texted and emailed, and which websites they visit.
Parliament has a done a terrible thing. They've ignored a court judgment and shoved complex law through a legislative mincer in just three days.
But in doing so they won't have had the final word. You've already shown them the growing public opposition to mass surveillance. There was incredible action from supporters: 4458 of you wrote to your MPs with even more phoning up on the day of the vote.
Together we helped 49 MPs rebel against the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill. It may have passed, but thanks to you they know that we do not agree.
Whilst Parliament swallowed Theresa May's tired arguments that terrorist plots will go undetected and these are powers and capabilities that exist today , she failed to make a compelling argument that holding everyone's data is necessary
and proportionate. Frankly, the Government was evasive and duplicitous, and they were in a hurry to cover their tracks.
Tom Watson MP described the process as democratic banditry, resonant of a rogue state. The people who put this shady deal together should be ashamed.
And the European Court's decision was very clear: blanket data retention is unlawful and violates the right to privacy. The courts will have the final say on whether DRIP breaches human rights. And no matter what David Cameron believes, the UK has
international obligations. The European Convention on Human Rights, the European Charter of Fundamental Rights and our own Human Rights Act -- all exist to defend our rights and are where we will be able to challenge DRIP.
We're already meeting with lawyers and taking Counsel's advice to work out the best way to take the Government to court. We will work with every other group who is willing to help. But a major legal battle like this is going to be tough. The more
resources we have, the more we'll be able to do to stand up to DRIP.
The Internet Services Providers' Association (ISPA UK) announced the winners of the 2014 ISPAs, the UK's longest running internet industry awards, now in their 16th year. Almost fifty organisations were nominated across sixteen categories, and the
evening ended with the Internet Hero and Villain Awards, given to those who have helped or hindered the industry in the last year.
Surveillance and broadband dominated the Internet Hero and Villain shortlists, sponsored by NetLynk Direct, with The Guardian named Hero for their work covering the PRISM revelations..
Conversely, GHCQ/NSA won the Internet Villain Award for their role in the surveillance state, a particularly important issue for industry given yesterday's new Bill on data retention. The Guardian collected their award on the evening whilst digital
rights campaigners, Big Brother Watch , picked up the award on behalf of GCHQ.
Internet Hero sponsored by NetLynk winner: The Guardian
For their excellent reporting of mass surveillance programmes.
Internet Villain sponsored by NetLynk winner: GCHQ/NSA
For running the widest covert electronic surveillance programme in the world.
The other Internet Villain finalists were:
Charles Farr, Director of the Office of Security, Home Office For continued attempts to collect communications data in spite of the growing consensus to balance retention of data with fundamental rights.
Norfolk County Council For failing to rollout superfast broadband to 80% of residents as promised.
Russian Government For passing one of the most restrictive internet freedom laws in the world.
The intelligence services are constructing vast databases out of accumulated interceptions of emails, a tribunal investigating mass surveillance of the internet has been told.
The claim emerged during a ground-breaking case against the monitoring agency GCHQ, MI5, MI6 and the government at the investigatory powers tribunal (IPT).
Matthew Ryder QC, for Liberty and other human rights groups, told a hearing the government had not disputed that databases gathering material that may be useful for the future is something that may be permissible under Ripa [the Regulation of
Investigatory Powers Act 2000] .
If they are deemed under the legislation to be necessary , he said, that may mean their use can stretch far into the future .
Ryder added: The government is now conceding it can gather such databases.
Hacking Online Polls and Other Ways British Spies Seek to Control the Internet
The secretive British spy agency GCHQ has developed covert tools to seed the internet with false information, including the ability to manipulate the results of online polls, artificially inflate pageview counts on web sites, amplif[y] sanctioned
messages on YouTube, and censor video content judged to be extremist. The capabilities, detailed in documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, even include an old standby for pre-adolescent prank callers everywhere: A way to connect
two unsuspecting phone users together in a call.
The tools were created by GCHQ's Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG), and constitute some of the most startling methods of propaganda and internet deception contained within the Snowden archive. Previously disclosed documents have detailed
JTRIG's use of fake victim blog posts, false flag operations, honey traps and psychological manipulation to target online activists, monitor visitors to WikiLeaks, and spy on YouTube and Facebook users.
Intelligence agency GCHQ is able to spy on Facebook and Youtube users and can manipulate online polls, according to the latest documents allegedly leaked by fugitive CIA worker Edward Snowden.
Documents thought to have been provided by the whistleblower allegedly show that the Cheltenham-based agency has developed a set of software programmes designed to breach users' computers and manipulate the internet.
Among the listed tools are ones capable of searching for private Facebook photographs, sending fake text messages, changing the outcome of online polls, censoring extremist material, and collating comments on Youtube and Twitter.
Some of the software enables the psychological manipulation of internet users, not unlike the controversial secret study recently undertaken with the approval of Facebook, in which the social network altered people's newsfeeds to see if it had an effect
on their emotions.
The list of programmes was revealed in a Wikipedia-style document allegedly compiled by GCHQ's Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG), which was first published by The Intercept.
The European court of human rights (ECHR) is to investigate British laws that allow GCHQ and police to secretly snoop on journalists.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism
has gone to Strasbourg in a bid to get a finding that domestic law is incompatible with provisions in European law which give journalists right to keep sources confidential from police and others.
The application has been accepted by the ECHR, which has indicated in the past it will expedite cases on surveillance through its legal system.
The Guardian US has won an Emmy for its groundbreaking coverage of Edward Snowden's disclosures about mass surveillance by US intelligence agencies.
The Guardian's multimedia interactive feature NSA Decoded was announced as the winner in the new approaches: current news category at the news and documentary Emmy.
The comprehensive interactive walks the audience through the facts and implications of the NSA's mass surveillance program, revealed by the Guardian last year in coverage based on leaks by Snowden. The interactive includes interviews and discussions with
key players including the journalist Glenn Greenwald, former NSA employees, senators and members of US congress.
The project was led by interactives editor and reporter Gabriel Dance, reporter Ewen MacAskill and producers Feilding Cage and Greg Chen.
British intelligence services can access raw material collected in bulk by the NSA and other foreign spy agencies without a warrant, the government has confirmed for the first time.
GCHQ's secret arrangements for accessing bulk material are revealed in documents submitted to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, the UK surveillance watchdog, in response to a joint legal challenge by Privacy International, Liberty and Amnesty
International. The legal action was launched in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations published by the Guardian and other news organisations last year.
The government's submission discloses that the UK can obtain unselected -- meaning unanalysed, or raw intelligence -- information from overseas partners without a warrant if it was not technically feasible to obtain the communications under
a warrant and if it is necessary and proportionate for the intelligence agencies to obtain that information.
The rules essentially permit bulk collection of material, which can include communications of UK citizens, provided the request does not amount to deliberate circumvention of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa), which governs much of
the UK's surveillance activities.
Big Brother Watch has published a report
highlighting the true scale of police forces' use of surveillance powers.
The report comes at a time when the powers have faced serious criticism, following revelations that police have used them to access journalists' phone records.
The research focuses on the use of 'directed surveillance' contained in the controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) by police forces; a form of covert surveillance conducted in places other than residential premises or private
vehicles which is deemed to be non-intrusive, but is still likely to result in personal information about the individual being obtained.
Although the report details how directed surveillance powers were authorised more than 27,000 times over a three year period, police forces are not compelled to record any other statistics; therefore we cannot know the exact number of individuals
that these authorisations relate to.
Robert Hannigan, the new head of GCHQ, has accused US technology companies of becoming the command and control networks of choice for terrorists.
Privacy has never been an absolute right , according to the new director of snooping. Robert Hannigan said a new generation of freely available technology has helped groups like Islamic State (Isis) to hide from the security services and accuses
major tech firms of being in denial , going further than his predecessor in seeking to claim that the leaks of Edward Snowden have aided terror networks.
GCHQ and sister agencies including MI5 cannot tackle those challenges without greater support from the private sector, including the largest US technology companies which dominate the web , Hannigan argued in an opinion piece written for the
Financial Times just days into his new job. While not naming any company in particular, the GCHQ director wrote:
To those of us who have to tackle the depressing end of human behaviour on the internet, it can seem that some technology companies are in denial about its misuse.
I suspect most ordinary users of the internet are ahead of them: they have strong views on the ethics of companies, whether on taxation, child protection or privacy; they do not want the media platforms they use with their friends and families to
facilitate murder or child abuse.
Techniques for encrypting messages or making them anonymous which were once the preserve of the most sophisticated criminals or nation states now come as standard. These are supplemented by freely available programs and apps adding extra layers of
security, many of them proudly advertising that they are 'Snowden approved'. There is no doubt that young foreign fighters have learnt and benefited from the leaks of the past two years.
Executive Director Jim Killock of Open Rights Group has responded to Hannigan's comment. He said:
Robert Hannigan's comments are divisive and offensive. If tech companies are becoming more resistant to GCHQ's demands for data, it is because they realise that their customers' trust has been undermined by the Snowden revelations. It should be down to
judges, not GCHQ nor tech companies, to decide when our personal data is handed over to the intelligence services. If Hannigan wants a 'mature debate' about privacy, he should start by addressing GCHQ's apparent habit of gathering the entire British
population's data rather than targeting their activities towards criminals.
In the wake of a GCHQ for increased internet mass snooping capabilities, Ofcom internet censors have chipped in with calls for Google and Facebook to make state snooping easier.
Ofcom's chief executive, Ed Richards, has said technology companies such as Google and Facebook have social responsibilities. He said:
I think it's fair to say that there are social responsibilities that come with a media that are as prevalent and significant as those social media [companies] have become.
It's absolutely right to ask what society should expect of those organisations as responsible companies with an impact on society.
At one level what he is saying is clearly right in the sense that social media are being used by all sorts of different communities, clearly including terrorist and jihadi [groups], and are part of the way that groups like that communicate.
His comments came after the new director of GCHQ, Robert Hannigan, called on US tech companies to do more in the fight against terrorism in the Financial Times, declaring that privacy had never been an absolute right .
Ofcom's chair, Patricia Hodgson, seemed to suggest that snooping wasn't just targetted at terrorism but even down to supposed crimes such as extreme pornography. She said:
It's certainly the case that there has been a struggle to keep up with this shift [in] the use of social media, the most extreme abuses of it, for terrorism or illegal pornography.
There are obviously arrangements whereby the government can categorise material [relating to terrorism or illegal pornography] and issue take-down notices.
But there were very great difficulties where that material is on the cusp, that doesn't fall very clearly under those arrangements.
The chair and chief executive of Ofcom were giving evidence to the Commons culture, media and sport select committee on Tuesday as part of a review of the regulator's work.
The intelligence services have routinely been intercepting legally privileged communications between lawyers and their clients in sensitive security cases, according to internal MI5, MI6 and GCHQ documents.
The information obtained may even have been exploited unlawfully and used by the agencies in the fighting of court cases in which they themselves are involved, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) has been told, resulting in miscarriages of justice.
Exchanges between lawyers and their clients enjoy a special protected status under the law.
The Conservative MP David Davis, a former shadow home secretary, said past practice was to delete such material immediately if it was ever picked up. Amnesty International said the government was gaining an unfair advantage akin to playing poker in a
hall of mirrors .
Their comments come after 28 extracts of internal intelligence policies showing how legally privileged material is handled by security officials were released to lawyers pursuing a claim through the IPT. The tribunal considers complaints against MI5, MI6
Open Rights Group's Legal Director, Elizabeth Knight said:
We already know that RIPA allows the security services to intercept all 'external communications, breaching our right to privacy. By undermining journalistic and legal privilege, RIPA also threatens our rights to free speech and a fair trial. The
government cannot keep defending these abuses. We need urgent reform of this broken law now. This disclosure demonstrates the need to introduce judicial authorisation.'
An international coalition of more than fifty actors, musicians and intellectuals have announced their support for Edward Snowden, WikiLeaks, whistleblowers and publishers. Some are also encouraging donations to the Courage Foundation --which runs the
official legal defense fund
for Edward Snowden and other whistleblowers, as well as fights for whistleblower protections worldwide -- with tweets and social media posts.
The courage that Edward Snowden and other whistleblowers and truthtellers have shown and continue to show is truly extraordinary and necessary in helping the public have access to their historical record through media, said Sarah Harrison,
WikiLeaks Investigations Editor and Director of the Courage Foundation. WikiLeaks and Harrison ensured Edward Snowden's safe exit from Hong Kong and secured his asylum. We cannot thank these cultural icons enough for showing their support.
The announcement coincides with the expanded theatrical release of Laura Poitras' critically acclaimed documentary CitizenFour -- providing a first-hand account of Edward Snowden's disclosure of the NSA's mass surveillance program.
Signed by Susan Sarandon, Russell Brand, Peter Sarsgaard, M.I.A., Thurston Moore, David Berman, Vivienne Westwood, Alfonso Cuaròn and several other artists and intellectuals, the statement praises the work of whistleblowers such as Snowden,
highlighting the need to support these individuals as they face social and legal persecution for their revelations to the public. The statement reads:
We stand in support of those fearless whistleblowers and publishers who risk their lives and careers to stand up for truth and justice. Thanks to the courage of sources like Daniel Ellsberg, Chelsea Manning, Jeremy Hammond, and Edward Snowden, the public
can finally see for themselves the war crimes, corruption, mass surveillance, and abuses of power of the U.S. government and other governments around the world. WikiLeaks is essential for its fearless dedication in defending these sources and publishing
their truths. These bold and courageous acts spark accountability, can transform governments, and ultimately make the world a better place.
In addition to urging the public to stand in solidarity with Snowden and other whistleblowers, many of the artists are calling on fans to watch CitizenFour, and are raising awareness of the Courage Foundation's whistleblower defense efforts, which
fundraises for the legal and public defense of whistleblowers and campaigns for the protection of truthtellers and the public's right to know generally.
The statement was signed by:
Udi Aloni, Pamela Anderson, Anthony Arnove, Etienne Balibar, Alexander Bard, John Perry Barlow, Radovan Baros, David Berman, Russell Brand, Victoria Brittain, Susan Buck-Morss, Eduardo L. Cadava, Calle 13, Alex Callinicos, Robbie Charter, Noam Chomsky,
Scott Cleverdon, Ben Cohen, Sadie Coles, Alfonso Cuaròn, John Deathridge, Costas Douzinas, Roddy Doyle, Bella Freud, Leopold Froehlich, Terry Gilliam, Charlie Glass, Boris Groys, Michael Hardt, P J Harvey, Wang Hui, Fredric Jameson, Brewster
Kahle, Hanif Kureishi, Engin Kurtay, Alex Taek-Gwang Lee, Nadir Lahiji, Kathy Lette, Ken Loach, Maria Dolores Galán López, Sarah Lucas, Mairead Maguire, Tobias Menzies, M.I.A., W. J. T. Mitchell, Moby, Thurston Moore, Tom Morello, Viggo
Mortensen, Jean-Luc Nancy, Bob Nastanovich, Antonio Negri, Brett Netson, Rebecca O’Brien, Joshua Oppenheimer, John Pilger, Alexander Roesler, Avital Ronell, Pier Aldo Rovatti, Susan Sarandon, Peter Sarsgaard, Assumpta Serna, Vaughan Smith, Ahdaf Soueif,
Oliver Stone, Cenk Uygur, Yanis Varoufakis, Peter Weibel, Vivienne Westwood, Tracy Worcester and Slavoj Zizek
Britain's surveillance laws, which have recently been used by the police to seize journalists's phone records in the Plebgate and Huhne cases, are not fit for purpose and need urgent reform, a Commons inquiry has found.
The Commons home affairs select committee says that the level of secrecy surrounding use of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa) allows the police to engage in acts which would be unacceptable in a democracy .
The committee chairman, Keith Vaz, said the surveillance law was not fit for purpose:
Using Ripa to access telephone records of journalists is wrong and this practice must cease. The inevitable consequence is that this deters whistleblowers from coming forward.
The MPs' inquiry followed claims by Sun and Daily Mail journalists that the Metropolitan and Kent police forces were secretly using the powers to trawl through thousands of phone numbers to detect their confidential sources in high-profile stories.
In response Home Office ministers have claimed they will revise the Ripa rules on communications data requests involving sensitive professions such as journalists and lawyers.
Emma Carr, director of Big Brother Watch, said:
When a senior Parliamentary Committee says that the current legislation is not fit for purpose, then this simply cannot be ignored. It is now abundantly clear that the law is out of date, the oversight is weak and the recording of how the powers are used
is patchy at best. The public is right to expect better.
The conclusion of the Committee that the level of secrecy surrounding the use of these powers is permitting investigations that are deemed unacceptable in a democracy, should make the defenders of these powers sit up and take notice. At present, the
inadequacy and inconsistency of the records being kept by public authorities regarding the use of these powers is woefully inadequate. New laws would not be required to correct this.
Whilst this report concentrates on targeting journalists, it is important to remember that thousands of members of the public have also been snooped on, with little opportunity for redress. If the police fail to use the existing powers correctly then it
is completely irresponsible for the Home Office to be planning on increasing those powers.
Failure by the Government to address these serious points means we can already know that there will be many more innocent members of the public who will be wrongly spied on and accused. This is intolerable.
The Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) gave its judgment in a major surveillance case brought by Privacy International, Liberty and Amnesty International. Disappointingly, the IPT ruled against the NGOs and accepted the security services' position that
they may in principle carry out mass surveillance of all fibre optic cables entering or leaving the UK and that vast intelligence sharing with the NSA does not contravene the right to privacy because of the existence of secret policies.
The decision should enable the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) to proceed with hearing the Privacy not PRISM case brought by ORG and others. It also means that Privacy International, Liberty and Amnesty International may join us in the
The NGOs challenged the government's surveillance practices on the grounds that it breached our rights to privacy and freedom of expression. Read Privacy International's summary of the judgment here.
It is a disappointing decision, but not a surprising one. ORG and the other human rights groups have long argued that the IPT is unable to provide an adequate remedy. It is able to hold secret hearings (as part of the hearing in this case was) without
telling the claimant what happened at those hearings. There is no right of appeal from a decision of the IPT. In this case the government refused to divert from its neither confirm nor deny policy regarding the existence of its surveillance
programmes, which meant the case had to consider hypotheticals.
ORG, Big Brother Watch, English PEN, Article 19 and Constanze Kurz have a case in the ECtHR that challenges the government's surveillance practices on very similar grounds. Our Privacy not PRISM case questions the human rights compliance of GCHQ's
TEMPORA programme, carried out under s.8(4) Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) and the use of information obtained from the NSA's PRISM programme. The case has been given a priority status by the ECtHR but is currently on hold pending today's
decision by the IPT.
The IPT case has forced the government to disclose previously secret polices, reveal its overly broad definition of external communications and admit that it can obtain communications from the NSA without a warrant. These disclosures will assist
all of the rights groups' arguments in the ECtHR.
The decision means that the adjournment of our case is likely to be lifted soon. How soon this happens will depend on whether the claimants in the IPT decide to apply to the ECtHR and whether the court allows them to join our case. Privacy International
has already indicated that it intends to complain to the ECtHR.
We await the decision of the ECtHR as to when it will re-start our case and begin its scrutiny of the government's surveillance practices. All parties will now look to the ECtHR to defend our human rights where the IPT has failed to do so.
A judicial review of the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIPA) has been granted permission by Mr Justice Lewis in the High Court today. Open Rights Group (ORG) and Privacy International (PI) intervened in the case, which was brought by Tom
Watson MP and David Davis MP, represented by Liberty. ORG and PI have now been given permission to make further submissions in advance of the next hearing.
Legal Director Elizabeth Knight said:
After the Court of Justice of the EU declared the Data Retention Directive invalid, the UK government had the opportunity to design new legislation that would protect human rights. It chose instead to circumvent the decision of the CJEU by introducing
the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIPA), which is almost identical to the Data Retention Directive.
Through our submission, we hope to help demonstrate that DRIPA breaches our fundamental human right to privacy and does not comply with human rights and EU law.
ORG's submission addresses the EU data protection regime in place before the Data Retention Directive (in particular the Data Protection Directive, the E-privacy Directive and the E-Commerce Directive) and why we consider DRIPA does not comply with the
requirements of the regime in light of the clear guidance from the CJEU.
US and UK spies hacked into the internal computer network of the largest manufacturer of SIM cards in the world, stealing encryption keys used to protect the privacy of cellphone communications across the globe
CITIZENFOUR , Laura Poitras' riveting documentary about Edward Snowden's efforts to shed light on gross surveillance abuses by
the United States government and its partners, just won the 2014 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.
Tonight's Oscar win recognizes not only the incredible cinematography of Poitras, but also her daring work with a high-stakes whistleblower and the journalism that kick-started a worldwide debate about surveillance and government transparency. We suspect
this award was also, as the New York Times pointed out , a way for Academy members to make something of a political statement, without having to put their own reputations on the line.
We're thrilled to see Poitras take home this prestigious award. CITIZENFOUR distilled a multi-year battle against untargeted surveillance and delivered it to the world with a compelling human interest story. The work of Poitras, Snowden, and journalist
Glenn Greenwald helped shape the political course of nations across the globe. That's worth at least an Oscar.
This award means that more people will be no doubt be watching CITIZENFOUR, and thus learning about both Snowden's sacrifice and the surveillance abuses by the United States government. For those watching the movie for the first time, there's often a
sense of urgency to get involved and fight back against mass untargeted surveillance
UK MPs have been advised that internet encryption services can be used in the public interest, as well as for criminal purposes. Furthermore a repressive ban on online anonymity networks such as Tor would be technologically infeasible and unwise.
The advice for MPs contradicted the Prime Minister David Cameron, who has said law enforcement should be handed the keys to encrypted communications.
One expert said the document showed Cameron's plans to be noble , but ultimately unworkable.
The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (Post), which issues advice to MPs, said that there was:
Widespread agreement that banning online anonymity systems altogether is not seen as an acceptable policy option in the UK. Even if it were, there would be technical challenges.
The report, published on Monday 9 March, cited the example of the Chinese government, which attempted to block access to Tor in order to enforce bans on unauthorised websites. In reaction, it said, the body that maintains the network, simply added bridges
that were very difficult to block , allowing people to continue accessing Tor.
The Intelligence and Security Committee publishes the findings of its Privacy and Security Inquiry while Open Rights Group has published its own report into the activities are GCHQ and their impact on British citizens.
The consequences of GCHQ's activities have the potential to harm society, the economy and our foreign standing. These have not been fully explored by Parliament. We hope that this report helps MPs to understand the range of GCHQ's activities and the fact
that they affect ordinary people not just those suspected of threatening national security.
Open Rights Group responded to the Intelligence and Security Committee's report into Security and Privacy. Executive Director, Jim Killock said:
The ISC's report should have apologised to the nation for their failure to inform Parliament about how far GCHQ's powers have grown. This report fails to address any of the key questions apart from the need to reform our out-of-date
surveillance laws. This just confirms that the ISC lacks the sufficient independence and expertise to hold the agencies to account.
A report published by Open Rights Group, has called for the reform of oversight mechanisms, including the Intelligence and Security Committee, so that they are truly independent, accountable to Parliament and have sufficient
technical expertise to tackle the technical, legal and ethical issues around surveillance. We also call for reform of the laws that allow surveillance to be replaced by new comprehensive surveillance legislation that complies with human rights law and
reflects the current technical landscape.
These would mean:
Targeted surveillance not mass surveillance
Prior judicial authorisation for all surveillance decisions
Increasing the legal protection for communications data so that it is the same as for the content of communications
Ending statutory definitions that are out outdated in the digital age -- such as the current distinctions between 'internal' and 'external' communications.
The conclusion from the cross-party group of senior MPs and peers on the intelligence services -- who operate within the ring of secrecy -- that Britain's complex web of surveillance laws needs replacing with a single act of parliament would never
have happened without those disclosures taking place.
Their recommendation that this new legal framework must be based on an explicit avowal of intrusive surveillance capabilities and spell out authorisation procedures, privacy constraints, transparency requirements, targeting criteria and the rest is also
A committee of the British Parliament has proposed legal reforms to Britain's intelligence agencies that are mostly cosmetic and would do little to protect individual privacy.
In a report published on March 12, the Intelligence and Security Committee acknowledged that agencies like MI5 collect, sift through and examine millions of communications. Most of this is legal, the committee said, and justified by national security. It
proposed a new law that would tell people more about the kind of information the government collects about them but would not meaningfully limit mass surveillance. That is hardly sufficient for a system that needs strong new checks and balances.
As things stand now, intelligence agencies can monitor vast amounts of communications and do so with only a warrant from a government minister to begin intercepting them. Lawmakers should limit the amount of data officials can sweep up and require them
to obtain warrants from judges, who are more likely to push back against overly broad requests.
The parliamentary committee, however, did not see the need to limit data collection and concluded that ministers should continue to approve warrants because they are better than judges at evaluating diplomatic, political and public interests. That
rationale ignores the fact that ministers are also less likely to deny requests from officials who directly report to them.
The committee's acceptance of the status quo partly reflects the fact that Britons have generally been more accepting of intrusive government surveillance than Americans ; security cameras, for instance, are ubiquitous in Britain. But the committee
itself was far from impartial. Its nine members were all nominated by Prime Minister David Cameron, who has pushed for even greater surveillance powers.
Rights groups have asked the European Court of Human Rights to rule on the legality of the UK's mass snooping regime.
Amnesty International, Liberty and Privacy International have jointly filed a legal complaint with the court. The three organisations claim that the surveillance carried out by GCHQ breaches the European Convention on Human Rights that enshrines certain
freedoms in law.
A similar legal challenge mounted in the UK last year saw judges rule that the spying did not breach human rights.
Nick Williams, legal counsel for Amnesty said in a statement:
The UK government's surveillance practices have been allowed to continue unabated and on an unprecedented scale, with major consequences for people's privacy and freedom of expression.
Information that had come to light in the last 12 months showed, said Amnesty, that there were flaws in the oversight system. One revelation concerned arrangements GCHQ has with its US counterparts to get at data it would be difficult for the UK agency
to get permission to acquire. There were also loopholes in UK laws governing surveillance being exploited by GCHQ to expand its spying abilities, it said.
The British government sneakily changed anti-hacking laws to exempt GCHQ and other law
enforcement agencies from criminal prosecution, it has been revealed.
Details of the change became apparent at the Investigatory Powers Tribunal which is hearing a challenge to the legality of computer hacking by UK law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
The Government amended the Computer Misuse Act (CMA) two months ago. It used a little-noticed addition to the Serious Crime Bill going through parliament to provide protection for the intelligence services. The change was introduced just weeks after the
Government faced a legal challenge that GCHQ's computer hacking to gather intelligence was unlawful under the CMA.
Eric King, the deputy director of Privacy International, said:
The underhand and undemocratic manner in which the Government is seeking to make lawful GCHQ's hacking operations is disgraceful.
Hacking is one of the most intrusive surveillance capabilities available to any intelligence agency, and its use and safeguards surrounding it should be the subject of proper debate. Instead, the Government is continuing to neither confirm nor deny the
existence of a capability it is clear they have, while changing the law under the radar.
The US Senate has unsurprisingly blocked a bill that would have ended the bulk collection of Americans' phone records by the National Security Agency (NSA).
The White House has pressed the Senate to back the a bill passed by the House of Representatives - the Freedom Act - which would end bulk collection of domestic phone records. These records would remain with telephone companies subject to a case-by-case
review. The 57-42 Senate vote fell short of the 60-vote threshold.
Another vote held over a two-month extension to the existing programmes - Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act - also failed to reach the threshold. Senators are to meet again on 31 May - a day before the bill is due to expire.
Germany's Bundestag has voted for a new version of the data retention law that caused so much controversy in the past.
The new law will force telcos to store call and email records for 10 weeks, as well as metadata including information about who called or emailed whom and when, and call duration. IP addresses will also be logged. Mobile phone location data will only be
stored for four weeks.
The data is only to be used in the investigation of terrorism and other serious crimes (but all crimes are defined as 'serious' crimes these days) and police must get a judge's consent before rifling through personal metadata, and the individual in
question must be notified.
Justice Minister Heiko Maas defended the new law, saying that it was proportionate, in contrast to earlier legislation, as less data would be stored and retained for a shorter time.
The European Parliament voted Thursday in support of a resolution that calls on member states to protect Edward Snowden from
The vote, which has no legal force, was 285-281. The resolution urges nations to drop criminal charges and consequently prevent extradition or rendition by third parties, in recognition of his status as whistle-blower and international human rights
On Twitter, Snowden repsonded
This is not a blow against the US Government, but an open hand extended by friends. It is a chance to move forward.
In response to Thursday's vote, U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said the U.S. policy on Snowden has not changed:
He needs to come back to the United States and face the due process and the judicial process here in the United States. That's been our position from the beginning. It's our belief that the man put U.S. national security in great danger and he needs to
be held account to that.
In a bombshell
published today, Reuters is reporting that, in 2015, Yahoo complied with an order it received from the U.S. government to search all of its users' incoming emails, in real time.
There's still much that we don't know at this point, but if the report is accurate, it represents a new--and dangerous--expansion of the government's mass surveillance techniques.
This isn't the first time the U.S. government has been caught conducting unconstitutional mass surveillance of Internet communications in real time. The NSA's Upstream surveillance program--the program at the heart of our ongoing lawsuit
Jewel v. NSA
--bears some resemblance to the surveillance technique described in the Reuters report. In both cases, the government compels providers to scan the contents of communications as they pass through the providers' networks, searching the full contents of
the communications for targeted "selectors," such as email addresses, phone numbers, or malware "
Mass surveillance of Yahoo's emails is unconstitutional for the same reasons that it'sunconstitutional for the government to copy and search through vast amounts of communications passing through AT&T's network as part of Upstream. The sweeping
warrantless surveillance of millions of Yahoo users' communications described in the Reuters story flies in the face of the Fourth Amendment's prohibition against unreasonable searches. Surveillance like this is an example of "
" that the Fourth Amendment was directly intended to prevent. (Note that, as we've explained
, it is irrelevant that Yahoo itself conducted the searches since it was acting as an agent of the government.)
While illegal mass surveillance is sadly familiar, the Yahoo surveillance program represents some deeply troubling new twists.
First, this is the first public indication that the government has compelled a U.S.-based email provider--as opposed to an Internet-backbone provider--to conduct surveillance against all its customers in real time. In attempting to justify its
warrantless surveillance under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act--including Upstream and PRISM--the government has claimed that these programs only "target" foreigners
outside the U.S. and thus do not implicate American citizens' constitutional rights. Here, however, the government seems to have dispensed with that dubious facade by intentionally engaging in mass surveillance of purely domestic communications involving
millions of Yahoo users.
Second, the story explains that Yahoo had to build new capabilities to comply with the government's demands, and that new code may have, itself, opened up new security vulnerabilities for Yahoo and its users. We read about new data breaches and attempts
to compromise the security of Internet-connected systems on a seemingly daily basis. Yet this story is another example of how the government continues to take actions that have serious potential for collateral effects on everyday users.
We hope this story sparks further questions. For starters: is Yahoo the only company to be compelled to engage in this sort of mass surveillance? What legal authority does the government think can possibly justify such an invasion of privacy? The
government needs to give us those answers.
WikiLeaks has begun a new series of leaks on the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Code-named Vault 7 by WikiLeaks, it is the largest
ever publication of confidential documents on the agency.
The first full part of the series, Year Zero , comprises 8,761 documents and files from an isolated, high-security network situated inside the CIA's Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Virgina. It follows an introductory disclosure
last month of CIA targeting French political parties and candidates in the lead up to the 2012 presidential election .
Recently, the CIA lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal including malware, viruses, trojans, weaponized zero day exploits, malware remote control systems and associated documentation. This extraordinary collection, which
amounts to more than several hundred million lines of code, gives its possessor the entire hacking capacity of the CIA. The archive appears to have been circulated among former U.S. government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one
of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive.
Year Zero introduces the scope and direction of the CIA's global covert hacking program, its malware arsenal and dozens of zero day weaponized exploits against a wide range of U.S. and European company products, include Apple's
iPhone, Google's Android and Microsoft's Windows and even Samsung TVs, which are turned into covert microphones.
Since 2001 the CIA has gained political and budgetary preeminence over the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). The CIA found itself building not just its now infamous drone fleet, but a very different type of covert, globe-spanning force 204 its
own substantial fleet of hackers. The agency's hacking division freed it from having to disclose its often controversial operations to the NSA (its primary bureaucratic rival) in order to draw on the NSA's hacking capacities.
By the end of 2016, the CIA's hacking division, which formally falls under the agency's Center for Cyber Intelligence (CCI), had over 5000 registered users and had produced more than a thousand hacking systems, trojans, viruses, and other weaponized
malware. Such is the scale of the CIA's undertaking that by 2016, its hackers had utilized more code than that used to run Facebook. The CIA had created, in effect, its own NSA with even less accountability and without publicly
answering the question as to whether such a massive budgetary spend on duplicating the capacities of a rival agency could be justified.
In a statement to WikiLeaks the source details policy questions that they say urgently need to be debated in public, including whether the CIA's hacking capabilities exceed its mandated powers and the problem of public oversight of the agency. The
source wishes to initiate a public debate about the security, creation, use, proliferation and democratic control of cyberweapons.
Once a single cyber weapon is loose it can spread around the world in seconds, to be used by rival states, cyber mafia and teenage hackers alike.
Julian Assange, WikiLeaks editor stated that:
There is an extreme proliferation risk in the development of cyber 'weapons'. Comparisons can be drawn between the uncontrolled proliferation of such 'weapons', which results from the inability to contain them combined with their high market
value, and the global arms trade. But the significance of Year Zero goes well beyond the choice between cyberwar and cyberpeace. The disclosure is also exceptional from a political, legal and forensic perspective.
Wikileaks has carefully reviewed the Year Zero disclosure and published substantive CIA documentation while avoiding the distribution of armed cyberweapons until a consensus emerges on the technical and political nature of the CIA's
program and how such weapons should analyzed, disarmed and published.
Wikileaks has also decided to redact and anonymise some identifying information in Year Zero for in depth analysis. These redactions include ten of thousands of CIA targets and attack machines throughout Latin America, Europe and the United
States. While we are aware of the imperfect results of any approach chosen, we remain committed to our publishing model and note that the quantity of published pages in Vault 7 part one ( Year Zero ) already eclipses the total number
of pages published over the first three years of the Edward Snowden NSA leaks.