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Category Archives: Patriot Act

investigative Report – NSA created ‘google-like search’ engine – shared access with other agencies

Data available through ICREACH appears to be primarily derived from surveillance of foreigners’ communications, and planning documents show that it draws on a variety of different sources of data maintained by the NSA. Though one 2010 internal paper clearly calls it “the ICREACH database,” a U.S. official familiar with the system disputed that, telling The Intercept that while “it enables the sharing of certain foreign intelligence metadata,” ICREACH is “not a repository [and] does not store events or records.” Instead, it appears to provide analysts with the ability to perform a one-stop search of information from a wide variety of separate databases. In a statement to The Intercept, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence confirmed that the system shares data that is swept up by programs authorized under Executive Order 12333, a controversial Reagan-era presidential directive that underpins several NSA bulk surveillance operations that monitor communications overseas. The 12333 surveillance takes place with no court oversight and has received minimal Congressional scrutiny because it is targeted at foreign, not domestic, communication networks. But the broad scale of 12333 surveillance means that some Americans’ communications get caught in the dragnet as they transit international cables or satellites—and documents contained in the Snowden archive indicate that ICREACH taps into some of that data. Legal experts told The Intercept they were shocked to learn about the scale of the ICREACH system and are concerned that law enforcement authorities might use it for domestic investigations that are not related to terrorism.

“To me, this is extremely troublesome,” said Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the New York University School of Law’s Brennan Center for Justice. “The myth that metadata is just a bunch of numbers and is not as revealing as actual communications content was exploded long ago—this is a trove of incredibly sensitive information.” Brian Owsley, a federal magistrate judge between 2005 and 2013, said he was alarmed that traditional law enforcement agencies such as the FBI and the DEA were among those with access to the NSA’s surveillance troves. “This is not something that I think the government should be doing,” said Owsley, an assistant professor of law at Indiana Tech Law School. “Perhaps if information is useful in a specific case, they can get judicial authority to provide it to another agency. But there shouldn’t be this buddy-buddy system back-and-forth.”

Newly Declassified Documents Regarding Now-Discontinued NSA Bulk Electronic Communications Metadata

ODNI: “Following a declassification review by the Executive Branch, the Department of Justice released on August 6, 2014, in redacted form, 38 documents relating to the now-discontinued NSA program [scroll down the page to locate the links] to collect bulk electronic communications metadata pursuant to Section 402 of the FISA (“PRTT provision”).  These documents are also responsiveContinue Reading

Extensive interview of Edward Snowden – Wired

James Bamford, via Wired: “..Snowden will continue to haunt the US, the unpredictable impact of his actions resonating at home and around the world. The documents themselves, however, are out of his control. Snowden no longer has access to them; he says he didn’t bring them with him to Russia. Copies are now in the handsContinue Reading

NSA’s Internet Metadata Program Was Sharply Criticized By FISA Judges – EPIC

“Documents Obtained by EPIC Lawsuit Show NSA’s Internet Metadata Program Was Sharply Criticized By FISA Judges While Congressional Oversight Lagged for Year: In a FOIA lawsuit against the Department of Justice, EPIC has obtained many documents about the NSA’s Internet Metadata program. These include the Government’s original FISA application seeking authorization to collect data from millions of e-mails, as wellContinue Reading

Barack Obama’s Secret Terrorist-Tracking System, by the Numbers

Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Devereaux - The Intercept “Nearly half of the people on the U.S. government’s widely shared database of terrorist suspects are not connected to any known terrorist group, according to classified government documents obtained by The Intercept. Of the 680,000 people caught up in the government’s Terrorist Screening Database—a watchlist of “known or suspected terrorists” that is shared withContinue Reading

EPIC Sues FBI for Missing Privacy Reports

“EPIC has filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to obtain details about the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s surveillance programs. The agency is required to conduct privacy impact assessments when it collects and uses personal data. However, the Bureau has failed to publicly release privacy impact assessments for many of its programs, including facial recognition, drones, and license plateContinue Reading

CIA IG Report Confirms Searches of Senate Computers

Feinstein Statement on CIA IG Report, Washington -  Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) released the following statement: “I was briefed Tuesday by CIA Inspector General David Buckley on the results of an IG investigation [summary only available at this time]. The investigation confirmed what I said on the Senate floor in March – CIA personnel inappropriatelyContinue Reading

Federal and State Wiretaps Up 5% in 2013 According to Annual Report

EPIC: “The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has issued the 2013 Wiretap Report, detailing the use of surveillance authorities by law enforcement agencies. This annual report, one of the most comprehensive issued by any agency, provides an insight into the debate over surveillance authorities and the use of privacy-enhancing technologies. In 2013, wiretap applications increasedContinue Reading

Surveillance Costs: The NSA’s Impact on the Economy, Internet Freedom & Cybersecurity

New America Foundation – “It has been over a year since The Guardian reported the first story on the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs based on the leaks from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, yet the national conversation remains largely mired in a simplistic debate over the tradeoffs between national security and individual privacy. It is timeContinue Reading

How Large-Scale US Surveillance is Harming Journalism, Law and American Democracy

With Liberty to Monitor All - How Large-Scale US Surveillance is Harming Journalism, Law, and American Democracy. Human Rights Watch / ACLU, July 2014. “The United States government today is implementing a wide variety of surveillance  programs that, thanks to developments in its technological capacity, allow it to scoop up  personal information and the content ofContinue Reading

Deeper Dive into EFF’s Motion on Backbone Surveillance

News release: “Yesterday we filed a motion for partial summary judgment in our long running Jewel v. NSA case, focusing on the government’s admitted seizure and search of communications from the Internet backbone, also called “upstream.” We’ve asked the judge to rule that there are two ways in which this is unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment: The admitted seizure of communications from theContinue Reading

UK Independent – NSA reportedly tracking any internet users who research privacy software online

James Vincent - “Any internet users who use or even read about privacy services online will be targeted for surveillance by the NSA, according to a new report from German broadcaster ARD. According to leaked source-code of the US spy agency’s ‘XKeyscore’ software, individuals who search for information about anonymising services such as Tor have their IPContinue Reading