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Category Archives: Patriot Act

The Intercept – TSA’s Secret Behavior Checklist to Spot Terrorists

Jana Winter and Cora CurrierThe Intercept: “Fidgeting, whistling, sweaty palms. Add one point each. Arrogance, a cold penetrating stare, and rigid posture, two points. These are just a few of the suspicious signs that the Transportation Security Administration directs its officers to look out for — and score — in airport travelers, according to a confidential TSA document obtained exclusively by The Intercept. The checklist is part of TSA’s controversial program to identify potential terrorists based on behaviors that it thinks indicate stress or deception — known as the Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques, or SPOT. The program employs specially trained officers, known as Behavior Detection Officers, to watch and interact with passengers going through screening. The document listing the criteria, known as the “Spot Referral Report,” is not classified, but it has been closely held by TSA and has not been previously released. A copy was provided to The Intercept by a source concerned about the quality of the program. The checklist ranges from the mind-numbingly obvious, like “appears to be in disguise,” which is worth three points, to the downright dubious, like a bobbing Adam’s apple. Many indicators, like “trembling” and “arriving late for flight,” appear to confirm allegations that the program picks out signs and emotions that are common to many people who fly… Since its introduction in 2007, the SPOT program has attracted controversy for the lack of science supporting it. In 2013, the Government Accountability Office found that there was no evidence to back up the idea that “behavioral indicators … can be used to identify persons who may pose a risk to aviation security.” After analyzing hundreds of scientific studies, the GAO concluded that “the human ability to accurately identify deceptive behavior based on behavioral indicators is the same as or slightly better than chance.” The inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security found in 2013 that TSA had failed to evaluate SPOT, and “cannot ensure that passengers at United States airports are screened objectively, show that the program is cost-effective, or reasonably justify the program’s expansion.”

StingRay surveillance device intercepts a cellphone signals, capture texts, calls, emails and other data

NYT – A Police Gadget Tracks Phones? Shhh! It’s Secret – “A powerful new surveillance tool being adopted by police departments across the country comes with an unusual requirement: To buy it, law enforcement officials must sign a nondisclosure agreement preventing them from saying almost anything about the technology… The technology goes by various names,Continue Reading

Senate Committee Approves Cyber Surveillance Bill

EPIC – “In a closed-door meeting, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence approved the Cyber Information Sharing Act of 2015. The bill would allow the government to obtain user information from private companies without judicial oversight. Companies would receive immunity for their disregard of existing privacy law. Senator Wyden, who opposed the measure, stated, “IfContinue Reading

Privacy elements of Apple mobile devices targeted in ongoing surveillance program

The Intercept: “Researchers working with the Central Intelligence Agency have conducted a multi-year, sustained effort to break the security of Apple’s iPhones and iPads, according to top-secret documents obtained by The Intercept. The security researchers presented their latest tactics and achievements at a secret annual gathering, called the “Jamboree,” where attendees discussed strategies for exploitingContinue Reading

Wikimeida Foundation joined by civil rights groups in lawsuit against NSA surveillance

The Guardian – “The Wikimedia Foundation, Amnesty International and a host of civil rights groups sued the National Security Agency and the US Department of Justice on Tuesday challenging the mass surveillance programme uncovered by whistleblower Edward Snowden. “We’re filing suit today on behalf of our readers and editors everywhere,” said Jimmy Wales, founder ofContinue Reading

Report – Largest global manufacturer of SIM cards hacked

The Intercept – Jeremy Scahill and Josh Begley – “American and British 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, according to top-secret documents provided to The Intercept by National Security AgencyContinue Reading

EFF – In a First, Government Acknowledges the Limits of Section 215

“Following EFF’s victory in a four-year Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, the government released an opinion, written by the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) in 2010, that concluded that Section 215—the provision of the Patriot Act the NSA relies on to collect millions of Americans’ phone records—does have a limit: census date The Commerce DepartmentContinue Reading

Council of Europe Report on Mass Surveillance

Provisional version – Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights – Mass surveillance. Rapporteur: Mr Pieter Omtzigt, Netherlands, Group of the European People’s Party. “Our freedom is built on what others do not know of our existences” Alexandr Solzhenitsyn. A Draft resolution 1. The Parliamentary Assembly is deeply concerned about mass surveillance practices disclosed sinceContinue Reading

EFF Joins Coalition to Launch Canarywatch.org

“Warrant canary” is a colloquial term for a regularly published statement that an internet service provider (ISP) has not received legal process that it would be prohibited from saying it had received, such as a national security letter. The term “warrant canary” is a reference to the canaries used to provide warnings in coalmines, whichContinue Reading

Privacy Board Renews Call for President Obama to End Bulk Collection

EPIC – “The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board released a report on prior recommendations regarding the NSA’s domestic and global surveillance programs. The Board stated that the Obama Administration has failed to end the domestic telephone collection program. The Board stated, “the Administration can end the bulk telephone records program at any time, withoutContinue Reading

Guardian – WikiLeaks demands answers after Google hands staff emails to US government

Ed Pilkington and Dominic Rushe: “Google took almost three years to disclose to the open information group WikiLeaks that it had handed over emails and other digital data belonging to three of its staffers to the US government, under a secret search warrant issued by a federal judge. WikiLeaks has written to Google’s executive chairman,Continue Reading

The Digital Arms Race: NSA Preps America for Future Battle

Spiegel Online – The NSA’s mass surveillance is just the beginning. Documents from Edward Snowden show that the intelligence agency is arming America for future digital wars — a struggle for control of the Internet that is already well underway, by Jacob Appelbaum, Aaron Gibson, Claudio Guarnieri, Andy Müller-Maguhn, Laura Poitras, Marcel Rosenbach, Leif Ryge,Continue Reading