By Aidan Booth and Adina Schwartz To view the 2014 chronicle please click here
December 30, 2013
The ACLU filed a complaint in the federal district court for the Southern District of New York under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), seeking information pertaining to the U.S. government’s interpretation of its authority under Executive Order 12,333 to conduct surveillance outside the United States targeted at foreigners. The Complaint avers that, “Although EO 12,333 permits the government to target foreigners abroad for surveillance, recent revelations have confirmed that the government interprets that authority to permit sweeping monitoring of Americans’ international communications. How the government conducts this surveillance, and whether it appropriately accommodates the constitutional rights of American citizens and residents whose communications are intercepted in the course of that surveillance, are matters of great public significance and concern.”
The Complaint is available at https://www.aclu.org/sites/default/files/assets/eo_12333_complaint.pdf
December 29, 2013
A 50-page document seen by Spiegel catalogues the tools that the NSA’s ANT (presumably, an acronym for “Advanced or Access Network Technology”) division has developed since 2008 for penetrating network equipment, monitoring mobile phones and computers and diverting and modifying data. ANT has developed tools for penetrating nearly all the security architecture created by mass market computer-maker Dell and such major equipment manufacturers as Cisco and its Chinese competitor Huawei.
On the basis of internal NSA documents, a Spiegel article described how the NSA’s Tailored Access Operations (“TAO”) unit has broken into, manipulated and exploited computer networks. One NSA document noted that “NSA QUANTUM [hacking system] has the greatest success against Yahoo, Facebook and static IP addresses,” and also stated that the GCHQ had used QUANTUM tools to target users of Google services. Another document described NSA’s successful use of QUANTUM tools against the SEA-WE-ME-4 cable system, which originates in Southern France and connects Europe with North Africa and the Gulf States, continuing on through Pakistan and India to Malaysia and Thailand. SEA-WE-ME-4’s owners include Orange, which is partly owned by the French government, and Telecom Italia Sparkle.
December 28, 2013
A provision in the defense budget bill that President Obama signed on December 26 effectively bars Russia from improving its version of GPS by building about a half dozen monitor stations on American soil. While Congressional and CIA and Pentagon critics feared that Russia would use the monitoring stations to spy on the United States, a former director of the State Department’s Office of Space and Advanced Technology stated that, “There isn’t any question that their [GPS] system would be more accurate and reliable if they had some stations somewhere in the northern half of the Western Hemisphere. The more stations you have, the more corrections you can make, and the more reliable the system you have.”
December 25, 2013
In an alternative Christmas message broadcast on British television Channel 4, Edward Snowden warned that “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, unanalyzed thought.” Affirming the value of privacy, he stated that “privacy is what allows us to determine who we are and who we want to be.” Despite opining that the surveillance he had revealed surpassed that imagined in George Orwell’s 1984, Snowden asserted that “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.”
A video of Snowden’s broadcast is available at:
December 24, 2013
Security researcher Mikko Hypponen cancelled his talk at a RSA conference in San Francisco in reaction to a report in Reuters on December 20 that EMC Corporation, which describes itself as “the global leader in cloud, big data and trusted IT, accepted $10 million from the NSA to make the default option in one of its products a flawed random number generator that provided a backdoor for NSA spying. In an open letter to the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of EMC and the Executive Chairman of RSA, Hypponen wrote that, “I don’t really expect your multibillion dollar company or your multimillion dollar conference to suffer as a result of your deals with the NSA. In fact, I’m not expecting other conference speakers to cancel. Most of your speakers are American anyway – why would they care about surveillance that’s not targeted at them but at non-americans. Surveillance operations from the US intelligence agencies are targeted at foreigners. However I’m a foreigner. And I’m withdrawing my support from your event.”
Hypponen’s letter is available at: http://www.f-secure.com/weblog/archives/00002651.html
December 20, 2013
On the basis of a joint investigation of documents leaked by Snowden, Der Spiegel, The Guardian, and The New York Times reported that from 2008-2011, the GCHQ, in close cooperation with the NSA, conducted surveillance on over 1,000 targets, only some of whom were suspected terrorists or militants. Additional, particularly notable targets were the Israeli Prime Minister and Defense Ministers; Vice President of the European Commission Joaquin Almunia, who has clashed with Google and Microsoft over privacy and anti-trust concerns; UNICEF, the World Health Organization, and the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research; the French oil and gas giant Total and logistics and defense giant Thales group; the Institute of Physics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which conducts internationally recognized research in atomic and nuclear physics; and Medecins du Monde, a medical relief organization operating in war-ravaged areas. German government networks in Berlin, the German embassy in Rwanda, and official communications between Germany and Georgia and Germany and Turkey were also targeted by the GCHQ.
In response to questions, GCHQ officials stated that “one of the purposes for which GCHQ may be authorized to intercept communications is where it is necessary for the purpose of safeguarding the economic well-being of the UK,” but claimed that, “Interception under this purpose is categorically not about industrial espionage.” According to an NSA spokeswoman, “We do not use our foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies on behalf of — or give intelligence we collect to — U.S. companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line.” She added, however, that, “The intelligence community’s efforts to understand economic systems and policies, and monitor anomalous economic activities, are critical to providing policy makers with the information they need to make informed decisions that are in the best interest of our national security.”
December 18, 2013
The 193 members of the United Nations General Assembly unanimously approved a resolution entitled “The Right to Privacy in the Digital Age.” The resolution, introduced by Brazil and Germany, “Requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to submit a report to the General Assembly on the protection of the right to privacy, including in the context of domestic and extraterritorial surveillance and/or interception of digital communications and collection of personal data, including on a mass scale.”
The Resolution is available at http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/C.3/68/L.45/Rev.1
In an opinion piece in the prestigious international science journal Nature, which is published in the UK, the technology editor of The Guardian, Charles Arthur, deplored the fact that “the academic community has largely been silent” about the undermining of encryption standards by the NSA and GCHQ. Arthur wrote that, “[I]t has been the commercial companies that have made the most noise – because the revelations threaten trust in their businesses. Don’t academics also see the threat to open expression, and to the flow of dissident ideas from countries where people might fear that their communications are being tapped and, even if encrypted, cracked?”
December 17, 2013
In a statement from Moscow distributed by Glenn Greenwald and first published in The New York Times, Edward Snowden praised the ruling by Judge Richard Leon of the federal district court of the District of Columbia that the NSA telephony metadata surveillance program likely violated the Fourth Amendment. Snowden stated that,” I acted on my belief that the N.S.A.’s mass surveillance programs would not withstand a constitutional challenge, and that the American public deserved a chance to see these issues determined by open courts. Today, a secret program authorized by a secret court was, when exposed to the light of day, found to violate Americans’ rights. It is the first of many.”
In an open letter to the people of Brazil published in Folha de S. Paolo newspaper and reprinted in full by The Guardian, Edward Snowden offered to help Brazil investigate the N.S.A.’s monitoring of Brazilian citizens and tapping of President Dilman Rousseff’s emails and phone calls and the communications of Brazilian oil company Petrobras in exchange for permanent political asylum. Snowden stated that, “There is a huge difference between legal programs, legitimate spying, legitimate law enforcement — where individuals are targeted based on a reasonable, individualized suspicion — and these [N.S.A.] programs of dragnet mass surveillance that put entire populations under an all-seeing eye and save copies forever. These programs were never about terrorism: they’re about economic spying, social control, and diplomatic manipulation. They’re about power. Many Brazilian senators agree, and have asked for my assistance with their investigations of suspected crimes against Brazilian citizens. I have expressed my willingness to assist wherever appropriate and lawful … Until a country grants permanent political asylum, [however,] the US government will continue to interfere with my ability to speak.”
The letter was reprinted in full at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/17/edward-snowden-letter-brazilian-people, and reported on at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/17/edward-snowden-brazil-spying-asylum
December 12, 2013
In the Opinion Pages of the New York Times, contributing op-ed writer Julia Baird discussed Indonesia’s suspension of relations with Australia after revelations of Australian spying on the cell phones of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, his wife, and eight members of his inner circle. The surveillance was first reported by the Australian edition of The Guardian, in collaboration with the publicly funded independent Australian Broadcasting Corporation (“ABC”), on the basis of documents leaked by Snowden. According to Ms. Baird, “The debate in Australia, oddly, was less about potential overreach by intelligence agencies than whether — and how — the story should have been published. … The government turned its wrath on the ABC for having exercised what [Prime Minister] Abbott called ‘very, very poor judgment’ in working with the ‘left wing’ Guardian.” Connecting the attacks on the ABC with “the editor of The Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, … being grilled by a parliamentary committee in Britain — also for publishing Snowden stories — with questions like, “Do you love this country?,” Ms. Baird concluded that “in the desperate casting about for someone to blame, let’s not forget that public floggings of any particular editors or journalists will not stop these stories from rolling out. Governments worldwide are girding their loins. Journalists should, too.”
December 10, 2013
Ashkan Soltani, Andrea Peterson, and Barton Gellman reported in The Washington Post that internal NSA presentation slides leaked by Snowden showed that the NSA and GCHQ have been using Google “PREF” cookies to single out the Internet communications of individual targets so as to send out software that can hack into those persons’ computers. Google assigns a unique PREF cookie to a computer browser anytime it connects to any of Google’s web properties or services. According to the reporters, the “slides do not indicate how the NSA obtains Google PREF cookies or whether the company cooperates in these programs, but other documents reviewed by the Post indicate that cookie information is among the data NSA can obtain with a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act order. If the NSA gets the data that way, the companies know and are legally compelled to assist.”
In a separate program named HAPPYFOOT, the NSA is using location data gathered by smartphone apps running on iPhones and Android devices and by Apple and Google operating systems to track the location of mobile devices throughout the world. The location data obtained through the HAPPYFOOT program is more specific than the worldwide cellphone location data that the NSA was reported to have been gathering in the December 4, 2013 Washington Post story described and linked to below.
Chris Hoofnagle, a lecturer in residence at UC Berkeley Law School, commented that, “On a macro level, ‘we need to track everyone everywhere for advertising’ translates into ‘the government being able to track everyone everywhere. It’s hard to avoid.”
Spurred by Snowden’s revelations, more than five hundred of the world’s leading authors, including five Nobel Prize winners, warned that state surveillance is undermining democracy and urged the United Nations to create an international bill of digital right.
The authors’ petition is available at http://www.change.org/petitions/a-stand-for-democracy-in-the-digital-age-3
December 9, 2013
In an open letter to President Obama and Congress, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, LinkedIn, Twitter and AOL called for “global government surveillance reform,” encompassing five principles. The first principle, “Limiting Governments’ Authority to Collect Users’ Information,” includes a ban on “bulk collection of Internet communications.” The second, “Oversight and Accountability,” calls for independent courts, adversarial proceedings, a clear legal framework with strong checks and balances, and the timely publication of important legal rulings. Third, “Transparency About Government Demands” calls on governments to allow companies to publish the number and types of demands for user information. Fourth, “Respecting the Free Flow of Information” requires that government policy on the transfer of data recognize that “[t]he ability of data to flow or be accessed across borders is essential to a robust 21st century global economy.” Fifth, “Avoiding Conflicts Among Governments” states that “there should be a robust, principled, and transparent framework to govern lawful requests for data across jurisdictions.”
Documents leaked by Snowden show that American and British spies have been infiltrating on line games, including World of Warcraft, Second Life, and Microsoft Xbox Live, using make-belief characters to snoop and to recruit informants and collecting data and contents of communications between players. While a top-secret 2008 NSA document stated that the games had the potential to be “a target-rich communications network,” the document also noted that so many C.I.A., F.B.I. and Pentagon spies were present on Second Life that a “deconfliction” group was needed to avoid collisions. In interviews, former American intelligence officials, current and former gaming company employees and outside experts claimed that there was little evidence that the games were used by terrorists for plots or communications, and the documents leaked by Snowden do not cite any counterterrorism successes from surveillance of the games. The maker of World of Warcraft stated that neither the NSA nor the GCHQ had gotten its permission to conduct surveillance.
December 4, 2013
On the basis of documents leaked by Snowden and interviews with U.S. intelligence officials, Barton Gellman and Ashkan Soltani reported in The Washington Post that the N.S.A. is gathering nearly 5 billions records a day on cellphone locations throughout the world. “In scale, scope and potential impact on privacy, the efforts to collect and analyze location data may be unsurpassed among the NSA surveillance programs that have been disclosed since June.”
The data is collected by tapping into the cables that connect mobile phone networks globally and that serve U.S. as well as foreign cellphones. Although the purported aim is to develop intelligence about foreign targets, location information about cellphones in the U.S. is collected “incidentally.” In addition, data is amassed about the tens of millions of Americans who travel abroad with their cellphones each year.
According to a May 2012 NSA briefing, so much location data has been collected (by one estimate, 27 terabytes) that it is “it is outpacing our ability to ingest, process and store.” Analytic tools – known collectively as CO-TRAVELLER – are applied to the data stored in the NSA’s FASCIA repository to search for unknown associates of known intelligence targets by tracking cellphones to determine when people’s movements intersect. Only a tiny fraction of 1 percent of the records collected turn out to be useful for foreign intelligence purposes.
In The Editorial Page Editor’s Blog of The New York Times, Andrew Rosenthal wrote that “[i]t was disturbing that the lawmakers thought [it] was even appropriate” for the Home Affairs Select Committee of the House of Commons to require Alan Rusbridger to testify. According to Mr. Rosenthal, the freedom of press has been threatened in the United States as well as the Great Britain, “my paper and many other news organizations have come under intense pressure for their coverage of the surveillance story. Numerous public officials have suggested that we committed a crime.” To the contrary, Mr. Rosenthal claimed that “[t]here is no evidence that national security, here or in Britain, was damaged by publication of the articles on the N.S.A.’s dragnet collection of metadata on phone calls and email messages. Revealing that was clearly in the public interest. On the other hand, as Carl Bernstein pointed out in an open letter to The Guardian, compelling Mr. Rusbridger to account for careful and responsible journalistic decisions in Parliament was “dangerously pernicious.”
December 3, 2013
The editor of the Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, and Bernard Hogan-Howe and Cressida Dick of the Metropolitan Police appeared before the Home Affairs Select Committee of the UK House of Commons. Commenting on Rusbridger’s appearance, the Director of the human rights group Liberty stated that, “With very few exceptions, MPs were respectful but rigorous in their questioning of a major newspaper editor who responded in kind. Alan Rusbridger came across as the paradigm ethical journalist, consulting colleagues and even the authorities themselves before making vital targeted disclosures in the public interest.”
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/03/guardian-editor-alan-rusbridger-home-affairs-committee-nsa-live-coverage (summary of the main events and link to an audio of Rusbridger’s testimony)
Keith Vaz, Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, directly questioned Rusbridger’s patriotism, saying, “I love this country. Do you love this country?” Rusbridger responded, “I’m slightly surprised to be asked the question but, yes, we are patriots and one of the things we are patriotic about is the nature of democracy, the nature of a free press and the fact that one can, in this country, discuss and report these things.”
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and a dozen American media organizations, including The New York Times, ProPublica, The Washington Post, and The New Yorker, submitted an open letter to the Home Affairs Select Committee, expressing “grave concern over pointed calls by those in authority for censorship of The Guardian and criminal prosecution of its journalists in the name of national security.”
Former Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein, who along with Bob Woodward covered the Watergate scandal in the 1970’s, sent an open letter to Mr. Rusbridger stating that the Guardian’s reporting on the Snowden files had been particularly “admirable and responsible.” According to Mr. Berstein, “Rather than hauling in journalists for questioning and trying to intimidate them, the Commons would do well to encourage and join [the] debate over how the vast electronic intelligence-gathering capabilities of the modern security-state can be employed in a manner that gives up little or nothing to real terrorists and real enemies and skillfully uses all our technological capabilities to protect us, while at the same time taking every possible measure to insure that these capabilities are not abused in a way that would abrogate the rights and privacy of law-abiding citizens.”
In a speech before American European Community Association (AECA) in Brusssels, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information Lawrence E. Strickling admitted that “[o]bviously trust is a big topic of discussion here and in the U.S. due to the disclosures [by Snowden].” Mr. Strickling stated, however, that because the reviews of U.S. surveillance that President Obama had directed “are still underway, I am not able to address the privacy issues raised by the intelligence programs during this session.” Mr. Strickling emphasized the value of Safe Harbor for both the U.S. and EU, and stated that the U.S. government was studying the recommendations issued by the EU Commission last week for “improving transparency, redress, and enforcement.”
December 1, 2013
A memo leaked by Snowden from a meeting of the Five Eyes Partners at GCHQ headquarters in 2008 indicates that the Australian intelligence agency offered to share “bulk, unselected, unminimised metadata as long as there is no intent to target an Australian national. Unintentional collection is not viewed as a significant issue.” By contrast, Canada was willing to share bulk metadata only if it could “ensure that the identities of Canadians or persons in Canada are minimised.” Although the documents leaked by Snowden do not show whether the discussions at the 2008 meeting led to any final decisions or specific actions, human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC opined that Australia’s offer to share bulk metadata conflicted with sections 8 and 12 of the Intelligence Services Act 2001.
November 29, 2013
The New York Times reported that in response to the CBC News reports, several members of the Canadian Parliament had questioned the legality of the CSEC’s operations. Joyce Murray, a Liberal member of Parliament, asked, “Why would the prime minister allow a foreign agency to set up shop on Canadian soil and spy on some of our closest allies?” The Defense Minister, Rob Nicholson, declined to comment on the CBC report during the question period in Parliament, but stated that no law breaking by the CSEC had ever been found by the independent official charged with overseeing its operations. The New York Times noted, however, that the independent official, Robert Décary, had released a report in August stating that a lack of information had made it impossible for him to determine if the CSEC had broken laws in some cases.
Professor Weslet K. Wark, who studies intelligence issues at the University of Ottawa, stated that joint Canadian-American spying on world leaders at the 2010 summit meeting would be “quite alarming and possibly illegal,” but said that it was also possible that no spying had occurred and that the N.S.A. had only been involved in the security operations surrounding President Obama’s trip.
November 28, 2013
In the Editor’s Blog of CBC News, David Walmsley, the Director of News Content, acknowledged that “[b]y its very nature, national security is the most sensitive file journalists work on,” but nonetheless asserted that “a test for any democracy is the ability of its institutions to handle the challenge of public scrutiny. Arguably, the most robust behaviour should reside with those who have the most secrets.” On the basis of the documents leaked by Snowden and its freelance relationship with Glenn Greenwald, CBC News intends to continue to deal with the questions, “Did CSEC (Communications Security Establishment Canada) manage to work with the United States’ NSA (National Security Agency) through a legal partnership? Was the minister of defence or foreign affairs aware of the decisions or grant permission? If so, how often are the agencies granted or refused ministerial permission? What is the precise process a minister uses to guide him or herself? What is the political, economic and legal frame?”
November 27, 2013
The European Commission announced the release of reports setting “out the actions that need to be taken to restore trust in data flows between the EU and the U.S., following deep concerns about revelations of large-scale U.S. intelligence collection programmes [that] have had a negative impact on the transatlantic relationship.” The reports include a strategy paper on transatlantic data flows; an analysis detailing deficiencies in the Safe Harbor scheme and making 13 recommendations to improve its functioning; a report on the findings of the EU-US Working Group on Data Protection established in July 2013; and reviews of the existing agreements between the US and EU on data exchanges in regard to Passenger Name Records (PNR) and the Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme (TFTP). In its press release, the Commission stated that, “U.S. President Obama has announced a review of U.S. national security authorities’ activities. This process should also benefit EU citizens. The most important changes should be extending the safeguards available to US citizens to EU citizens not resident in the US, increased transparency and better oversight.”
On the basis of “Top Secret” briefing notes leaked by Snowden, Greg Weston, Glenn Greenwald, and Ryan Gallagher reported in Canada’s CBC News that during the G8 and G20 summit meetings in Canada in 2010, “the U.S. turned its Ottawa embassy into a security command post during a six-day spying operation by the National Security Agency.” Since the briefing notes stated that the NSA’s plans were “closely co-ordinated with the Canadian partner” and the NSA’s Canadian counterpart is the Communications Security Establishment Canada (“CSEC”), the article inferred that the CSEC had worked with the NSA in spying on world leaders at the summit meetings. This joint effort may have violated Canadian law’s requirement that the CSEC obtain a warrant to spy on anyone in Canada and may also have violated an international agreement against using the NSA to conduct surveillance that it would be illegal for the CSEC to conduct.
Officials at CSEC did not respond to CBC News’ specific questions and request for comments. U.S. State Department officials declined to comment on the specific issue of surveillance within Canada, but emphasized that President Obama had ordered a review of NSA operations in the wake of the Snowden revelations. In addition, the State Department asserted that, “as a matter of policy we have made clear that the United States gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations.”
November 26, 2013
The UN General Assembly’s human rights committee unanimously adopted a resolution sponsored by Brazil and Germany entitled “The right to privacy in the digital age,” making the unanimous passage of the resolution by the entire General Assembly in December virtually certain. The measure states that the UN is “deeply concerned at the negative impact that surveillance and/or interception of communications … may have on the exercise and enjoyment of human rights,” and, according to Brazil’s Ambassador Antonio de Aguiar Patriota, “establishes for the first time that human rights should prevail irrespective of the medium, and therefore need to be protected online and offline.”
The Five Eyes Group, consisting of the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, did not oppose the resolution, after their lobbying led to the deletion of language stating that domestic and international interception and collection of communications and personal data, “in particular massive surveillance,” may constitute an international human rights violation. The resolution calls, however, for the UN high commissioner for human rights to conduct an inquiry and present a report next year on “the protection and promotion of the right to privacy in the context of domestic and extraterritorial surveillance and/or interception of digital communications and collection of personal data”.
November 23, 2013
Over 50,000 worldwide computer networks have been infected with malware designed to steal sensitive information, according to a Dutch news report that includes a worldwide map, leaked by Snowden, of the NSA’s installation of malware.
The malware can be controlled remotely and can be centrally managed, thus providing the NSA with the ability to switch it on and off at any given time. It is reportedly operated by the NSA’s TAO (“Tailored Access Operations”) division, with over 1,000 hackers employed in that role.
GCHQ’s infiltration of the Belgium telecoms provider Belgacom is an example of this type of hacking. Malware has also been installed in Brazil and Venezuela.
The NSA declined to comment, referring the Dutch reporters to a US government spokesperson who stated that any disclosure of classified material was harmful to US national security.
Following on the revelations that the NSA has been storing and analysing data from British citizens who are not suspected of any wrongdoing, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the chairman of the UK Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee, is demanding an urgent report from the intelligence agencies. He stated that, “As with any significant stories concerning any of the intelligence agencies, we will require and receive a full report from them on this”.
Nick Clegg, the UK Deputy Prime Minister, also spoke about the latest revelations, stating that, “My view is with each passing day there is a stronger and stronger case … to look at this in the round.” He added that it was right to question “the proportionality of intelligence gathering today and the accountability of the services”.
Privacy International claimed that the latest revelations had confirmed its long term suspicion that members of the Five Eyes group have been playing “a game of jurisdictional arbitrage to sidestep domestic laws governing interception and collection of data.” According to Eric King, Privacy International’s head of research, “The British government has repeatedly insisted that appropriate warrants were in place in all instances of international intelligence collaboration. We now know this isn’t the whole truth.”
November 20, 2013
A secret agreement in 2007, approved by British Intelligence officials, allows mobile phone and fax numbers and email and IP addresses of UK citizens not suspected of any wrongdoing to be analysed and stored by the NSA and put in databases where it can be accessed by other US intelligence agencies and the US military. The NSA has been using the data for “contact-chaining” analysis, under which the agency can search up to three “hops” away from a target of interest – examining the communications of people who communicate with the people who communicate with the target.
The 2007 agreement changed the general understanding between the US and UK, who are the main partners in the Five-Eyes intelligence sharing agreement which also includes Canada, New Zealand and Australia, that citizens of each country would be protected from surveillance by any of the Five Eyes. Before 2007, when the NSA “incidentally collected” data from British citizens who were not suspected of wrongdoing in the course of acquiring the communications of targets, the data, like that incidentally collected from Americans, was supposed to be “minimized,” or, in other words, stripped out of NSA databases.
Additionally, a draft memo from 2005 marked top-secret reveals a proposed procedure that would allow the NSA to spy on citizens of other Five-Eyes nations, “even where the partner government has explicitly denied the US permission to do so”.
November 18, 2013
A complaint brought by the activist group Europe v. Facebook against Microsoft and Skpe subsidiaries in Luxembourg was dismissed by that country’s National Commission for Data Protection (the “CNPD”). According to the CNDP, “The fact finding operations conducted since July 2013 and the subsequent detailed analysis did not bring to light any element that the two Luxembourg-based companies have granted the U.S. National Security Agency mass access to customer data.”
November 17, 2013
In an op-ed contribution to The New York Times, Malte Spitz, a Green Party politician and privacy activist, and Hans-Christian Ströbele, a Green Party member of the German Bundestag who serves on its intelligence committee, called for granting Snowden asylum and criticized the German government for acquiescing in “comprehensive surveillance [by the N.S.A. and G.C.H.Q. which we see] as the beginning of a meltdown of civil rights and liberties and the rule of law.” Stating that “[a]lmost every day, new information is released about how American and British intelligence agencies have monitored governments, embassies and the communications of whole societies” and that “[a]ll of our current knowledge about this surveillance is thanks to one man, Edward J. Snowden,” the authors opined that “[i]t’s embarrassing that democratic European countries, where the rule of law should reign supreme, have until now shied away from confrontation with the United States and have preferred to place Mr. Snowden’s fate and security in Russia’s hands.”
November 16, 2013
Due to fears of increased counterintelligence and other security issues, the C.I.A. and Pentagon have been campaigning to stop the State Department from allowing the Russian space agency to build monitoring stations within the United States that the Russians contend would significantly improve the accuracy of Moscow’s version of G.P.S.
November 14, 2013
The editorial board of The New York Times accused Parliamentary committees and the police of exploiting Britain’s lack of constitutional protection of freedom of the press “to harass, intimidate and possibly prosecute” The Guardian for its publication of articles based on information leaked by Snowden. According to the editorial, “British parliamentarians have largely ducked their duty to ask tough questions of British intelligence agencies, which closely collaborate with the N.S.A., and have gone after The Guardian instead.”
In an interchange in the December 5, 2013 edition of The New York Review of Books, the Rt. Hon. Sir Malcolm Rifkind, M.P. charged that Alan Rusbridger’s article about the Snowden leaks in the November 21, 2013 of The New York Review of Books “reads more like the case for the defense than an objective analysis by a fiercely independent newspaper.” In his reply to Sir Malcolm’s letter, Mr. Rusbridger concluded, “Isn’t it rather shaming that his fellow Conservatives are demanding a prosecution?”
Mr. Rusbridger original article in The New York Review of Books is described and linked to below under November 4, 2013.
November 11, 2013
On the basis of a GCHQ presentation from 2011 leaked by Snowden, Spiegel Online reported that the GCHQ had been using infiltration technology labeled “Quantum Insert” to insert malware on the computers of key engineering employees of Belgian telecommunications company Belgacom, thereby gaining access to the internal network of Belgacom subsidiary BICS. Since BICS is among only two dozen providers in the world of the GRX router systems through which users place calls or connect to the Internet with mobile phones while abroad, its infiltration enabled the GCHQ to launch attacks on individuals’ smartphones, including accessing all their Internet communications, tracking their locations, or planting spying software on their devices. The GCHQ also used the “Quantum Insert” to gain access to massive amounts of mobile phone connection data by targeting the international mobile billing clearinghouses that process international transactions among wireless companies. Among the clearinghouses targeted were Comfone, based in Bern, Switzerland, and Mach, which has since split into a company owned by Syniverse and another company owned by Starhome Mach.
The chief executive of German telecommunications giant Deutsche Telekon announced at a cybersecurity conference in Germany that his company was working to keep electronic message traffic from “unnecessarily” crossing the Atlantic and falling into the hands of the NSA. Other German executives and some politicians are talking of segmenting the Internet so as to no longer rely on American firms that allow United States intelligence agencies to access phone and Internet data. Although two pairs of senior German officials visited Washington in the last two weeks in an attempt to negotiate an intelligence sharing agreement, it is doubtful that Germany will achieve its goal of an similar to the “Five Eyes” agreement the US, UK, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.
November 9, 2013
In an op-ed piece in The New York Times, a columnist for The Guardian, Jonathan Freedland, argued that the core of why “the dominant British reaction to the revelations provided by Mr. Snowden, … has been a shrug of indifference” was that the British “don’t really see government as their servant in the first place. Britons remain subjects, not citizens.” According to Freedland, “The British system … still carries the imprint of its origins in monarchy. Officially, it remains ‘Her Majesty’s Government.’ Power still emanates for the top and flows downward, with the public allowed a peek only when the state chooses.” By contrast, “Americans have been shocked and stirred to action by Mr. Snowden’s disclosures” because “[i]n America, it is ‘we the people’ who are held to be sovereign; the N.S.A. is a servant of the people.”
November 7, 2013
The CIA has contracted to pay AT&T more than $10 million dollars to search its database for records of calls that may identify foreign associates of overseas terrorism suspects whose phone numbers are provided by the CIA. Since the CIA is prohibited from spying on Americans’ domestic activities, when AT&T’s searches produce records of calls with one end in the United States, AT&T does not disclose the Americans’ identity and “masks” several digits of their phone numbers. The CIA may, however, refer the masked phone numbers to the FBI, which can then subpoena AT&T for the unmasked numbers and subsequently provide the CIA with information about the American participants in the calls. When asked about potential overlap with the NSA’s metadata program, a senior American intelligence official declined to confirm the existence of the CIA’s contractual arrangement with AT&T, but stated that because the CIA deals with “time-sensitive threat situations” that require “a certain speed, agility and tactical responsiveness,” it would be rational for it to have its own program for searching call records.
November 6, 2013
German government officials are debating arrangements for having Snowden testify at a Parliamentary hearing on the “NSA affair” on November 18. While a member of Chancellor Merkel’s conservative bloc, Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich, ruled out asylum and stated that Snowden would need to testify from Moscow, Hans-Christian Strobele, who visited Snowden in Moscow last week, stated that Snowden want to testify in Germany, rather than from Moscow. Mr. Strobele, joined by others on the left, insisted that Germany should grant Snowden asylum and defy US demands for his arrest and extradition if he lands on German soil.
November 4, 2013
The general counsel to the Director of National Intelligence told an American Bar Association conference last week that “a lot of thought” was being given to treating some foreigners as “U.S. persons” for purposes of legal protection against foreign intelligence surveillance. Another government officials voiced concern, however, about the legal precedent that might be created by effectively extending Fourth Amendment protections to foreigners. German officials were at the White House this week and last week seeking to negotiate a “no spying” and intelligence sharing agreement similar to the “Five Eyes” agreement between the United States, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia and Canada. The White House has been forced to consider these changes by business executives’ fear that the revelations about N.S.A. surveillance will cost them billions of dollars in lost business in Europe and Asia as well as by the angry responses to the revelation of U.S. monitoring of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone.
In an article in the November 21, 2013 issue of The New York Review of Books, the editor of The Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, explored the role of the press in restraining the growth of government surveillance powers, expressing skepticism about government officials’ ability to restrain intelligence agencies on their own. Rusbridger reported that Liberal Democratic former cabinet minister Chris Huhne had informed him that before The Guardian’s publication of Snowden’s revelations, neither the UK cabinet nor the British National Security Council was aware of the GCHQ’s Tempora program or of its acquisition and use of data from the NSA’S Prism program. Rusbridger further reported that when questioned about whether “MP’s and congressmen have any … sophisticated idea of what technology is now capable of,” a very senior member of the British cabinet admitted that, “The trouble with MPs is that most of us don’t really understand the Internet.”
November 2, 2013
A New York Times article entitled “No Morsel Too Miniscule For All-Consuming N.S.A.,” reported, based on documents leaked by Snowden that The Guardian shared with the Times, that the N.S.A.’s “huge investment in collection” was driven by pressure from the White House, Pentagon, F.B.I., C.I.A., Departments of State, Energy, Homeland Security and Commerce, and the United States Trade Representative. Among the N.S.A. programs described in the article were the storage of years of worldwide text messages in the Dishfire database, the accumulation of gigabytes of credit card purchase records in Tracfin, the Polarfreeze program of tapping into nearby computers in public spaces, the use of text messages to figure out the personnel hierarchies of organizations in the Social Network Analysis Collaboration Knowledge Services program, and the Tailored Access Operations program which bypasses encryption by breaking into computers, stealing the data inside and sometimes leaving spywire behind.
November 1, 2013
Hans-Christian Ströbele, the veteran member of the Green Party in the German Parliament who visited Edward Snowden in Moscow, returned to Germany with a letter in which Snowden stated that, “my government continues to treat dissent as defection, and seeks to criminalize political speech with felony charges that provide no defense. However, speaking the truth is not a crime. I am confident that with the support of the international community, the government of the United Sates will abandon this harmful behavior.” According to the New York Times, ARD, the premier German TV network followed its reporting on Mr. Ströbele’s visit to Snowden with “a strident commentary stressing that Germany should show gratitude for his exposure of United States intelligence practices.”
Snowden’s letter is available at: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/11/01/world/europe/02snowden-letter.html?ref=europe
October 31, 2013
Hans-Christian Ströbele, the longest serving member of the parliamentary committee that oversees German intelligence, met with Edward Snowden for almost three hours in Moscow to explore the possibility of Snowden’s testifying at a German parliamentary inquiry into the N.S.A.’s monitoring of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone calls.
October 30, 2013
On the basis of documents leaked by Snowden, The Washington Post reported that the NSA and GCHQ have been secretly tapping into the fiber-optic cables that carry information among Google’s and Yahoo!’s data centers and copying entire data flows. In the project, the GCHQ directs all intake into a “buffer”that can hold three to five days of traffic and from which NSA tools unpack and decode the data. 100,000 NSA selectors or search terms are used to filter the data, more than twice the number in the NSA’s Prism program. The collaboration with GCHQ allows the NSA to circumvents the ruling by FISC Judge John D. Bates in 2011 that similar methods used to collect and analyze data streams on American soil violated FISA and the Fourth Amendment.
Although the NSA responded to the report about its collaboration with the GCHQ by stating that it is “focused on discovering and developing intelligence about valid foreign intelligence targets,” Google’s chief legal officer stated that, “We are outraged at the lengths to which the government seems to have gone to intercept data from our private fiber networks, and it underscores the need for urgent reform.” According to a Yahoo! spokewoman, “We have strict controls in place to protect the security of our data centers, and we have not given access to our data centers to the NSA or to any other government agency.”
The Italian weekly magazine Panorama reported that the NSA spied on internal communications at the Vatican and telephone calls at the Church residence where cardinals lived during the papal conclave and where Pope Francis currently resides. Citing Wikileaks, the article also claimed that NSA surveillance of Pope Francis began in 2005 when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires. In response to the reports, a Vatican spokesperson stated that, “We don’t know anything about this, and in any case we don’t have any concerns about it.”
October 29, 2013
In the wake of the diplomatic crisis triggered by reports of the NSA’s monitoring of the cellphone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel from within Berlin from 2002 until the surveillance was suspended sometime last summer in the wake of Snowden’s revelations, the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Diane Feinstein, announced that her committee would begin “a major review of all intelligence collection programs.” Senator Feinstein also stated that, “I do not believe the United States should be collecting phone calls or emails of friendly presidents and prime ministers,” but the White House responded that her report that the Administration had informed her that it would cease all intelligence collection in friendly countries “was not accurate.” Officials from Chancellor Merkel’s office and the heads of Germany’s domestic and foreign intelligence agencies, as well as EU officials and members of the European Parliament, are planning to travel to Washington within the next few days to register their anger at the NSA’s surveillance. This anger threatens the negotiation of President Obama’s major trade initiative, the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
October 28, 2013
The Italian newspaper Corriere de la Serra reported that at the Group of 20 meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia distributed thumb drives and cables to participants that it could use to intercept data from their computers and cell phones. A spokesperson for President Putin responded that the report was “undoubtedly nothing but an attempt to shift the focus from issues that truly exist in relations between European capitals and Washington to unsubstantiated, nonexistent issues.”
Der Spiegel reported that internal German Foreign Ministry documents that it had viewed showed that at the EU summit last week, Germany joined the UK in a successful effort to table the creation of a new EU data protection framework until 2015. The German and UK actions were a setback to the stricter regulations, including potential fines of billions of euros on any Internet company that illegally passed private data to US intelligence services, that the European Parliament had begun drafting. According to summit participants, Chancellor Merkel appeared far more interested in Germany’s joining the “Five Eyes” surveillance alliance among the US, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand than in stemming surveillance by the United States. By contrast, French President Hollande made it clear that he had no interest in joining such an alliance, and instead pushed, against UK opposition, for a European code of conduct for intelligence agencies.
In the House of Commons, British Prime Minister David Cameron warned that since The Guardian “had gone and printed material which is damaging” after it acceded to the government’s request to destroy files leaked by Snowden, “[if] they don’t demonstrate some social responsibility, it would be very difficult for the government to stand back and not act.” Despite stressing the importance of the free press in the UK, Mr. Cameron suggested that the government could take out injunctions to prevent The Guardian from releasing further information. When Labour Leader Ed Milliband urged the government to ensure “proper oversight” of the UK security services in light of the concerns raised by the US wiretapping of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone calls, Mr. Cameron responded that the UK intelligence services worked “under the law” and had foiled dozens of terrorist threats.
On the basis of documents leaked by Snowden that were viewed by Glenn Greenwald, the Spanish newspapers El Mundo and El Pais reported that the NSA had recently collected data on 60 million telephone calls in Spain. Spain’s government summoned the U.S. Ambassador to address the allegations.
Digital library host Cryptome reported that between December 10, 2012 and January 8, 2013, the NSA, with the aid of its Boundless Informant data analysis and visualization system, monitored 124.8 billion calls worldwide, including 46 million phone calls in Italy, 361 million in Germany, 70 million in France, 61 million in Spain, and 1.8 million in the Netherlands. The monitoring appeared to involve the collection of telephony metadata. The revelations follow on an article last week in the Italian weekly, L’Espresso, that reported that the Italian government and companies, as well as suspected terrorists, had been targeted as part of the monitoring of Italian telecommunications networks by US intelligence services. L’Espresso also reported that as part of its Tempora program, Britain’s GCHQ had monitored telephone, Internet and email traffic carried to Italy on three undersea fibre-optic cables. Although Italian Prime Minister Letta questioned US Secretary of State John Kerry about the surveillance in Rome last week, the Italian Parliamentary Committee for the Intelligence and Security Service and State Secret Control distinguished between “spying” and “monitoring,” and stated, “there is no evidence that the United States is spying on Italian citizens.”
According to last week’s article in L’Espresso, the three underwater fiber optic cables on which US and UK monitoring of Italians’ Internet and telecommunications concentrated were the SeaMeWe3 and SeaMeWe4 cables in Sicily and the Flag Europe Asia cables crossing the country.
October 24, 2013
PC World reported that on October 21, the Irish High Court granted judicial review of the Irish Data Protection Supervisor’s refusal to investigate a complaint against Facebook Ireland Ltd. by the Austrian student group, Europe v. Facebook. The Complaint alleged that in light of the revelations about the NSA’s Prism program, Facebook Ireland Ltd., which provides service to users outside the United States and Canada, was violating the Irish Data Protection Act and the European Data Protection Directive by transferring users’ data to the United States for processing by Facebook Inc.
In further European legal developments, a spokesperson for Luxemburg’s data protection supervisor stated that it would probably publish the findings on its investigation of Skye’s cooperation with the NSA’s Prism program within the next week. Yahoo is being investigated by the German Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, and has submitted a first, non-public statement to the Commissioner. The investigation is expected to be completed in December.
The director of the GCHQ, Sir Iain Lobban, the Security Service (MI5) director general, Andrew Parker, and the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) chief, Sir John Sawers, are to testify in public before the UK Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee (the “ISC”). The Committee, which is chaired by Conservative MP and former foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind, announced that this “will be the first time the three heads of the Intelligence Agencies have appeared in public together to talk about their work.” The hearing is scheduled for broadcasting over www.parliamentlive.tv, after a short delay to allow the ISC to assess whether the airing of anything said would endanger national security or the safety of those working for the intelligence services.
The Taipei Times reported that despite DNI Clapper’s denial, Le Monde was standing by its article about the NSA’s telephonic surveillance in France. In response to news reports, President Pena Nieto of Mexico ordered an “exhaustive” probe into allegations of NSA hacking of his emails while he was running for office and the emails of former President Felipe Calderon and his cabinet officials.
October 23, 2013
Director of National Intelligence (“DNI”) James Clapper issued a press release stating that, “Recent articles published in the French newspaper Le Monde contain inaccurate and misleading information regarding U.S. foreign intelligence activities. The allegation that the National Security Agency collected more than 70 million “recordings of French citizens’ telephone data” is false.”
Spiegel Online reported that Chancellor Angela Merkel had telephoned President Obama to discuss reports that her cell phone conversations had been targeted by US intelligence agencies for years. The Chancellor stated that if the surveillance was confirmed, she “unequivocally disapproves” and finds the surveillance methods “completely unacceptable.” Claiming that Spiegel research had led to the Chancellor’s reaction, the article stated that “After the information was examined by the country’s foreign intelligence agency, the Federal Intelligence Service (BND), and the Federal Office for Information Security, Berlin seems to have found their suspicions plausible enough to confront the US government.” After the Chancellor’s call to President Obama, Spiegel was informed by a spokeswoman from the US National Security Council that “The President assured the Chancellor that the United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of Chancellor Merkel.” However, “[t]he spokeswoman did not wish to specify whether this statement applied to the past.”
An internal NSA memo from September 2010 that Le Monde obtained from Snowden gives details about the NSA’s use of spyware for surveillance of the French Embassy in Washington and “French diplomatic interests at the United Nations in New York and Washington.” A document from August 2010 credited the confidential information with a major role in obtaining a resolution in the United Nations for additional sanctions on Iran.
October 21, 2013
In a co-authored article in the French newspaper Le Monde, Jacques Follorou and Glenn Greenwald reported that documents leaked by Snowden revealed massive NSA surveillance of French citizens’ telephone conversations. For instance, between December 10, 2012 and January 8, 2013, the NSA made 70.3 million recordings of French citizens’ telephone data. One of the NSA’s surveillance methods involved the automatic recording of calls to or from certain numbers. The NSA also intercepted the contents of text messages on the basis of keyword searches, and stored metadata on calls made and received in France by targets of surveillance.
The New York Times reported that in response to the Le Monde article on surveillance of French telecommunications, the U.S. Ambassador to France was summoned to the French Foreign Ministry and told that the surveillance was “totally unacceptable” and must cease. French President Francois Hollande telephoned President Obama with a similar message.
In a further article in Le Monde, Follorou and Greenwald reported that Snowden had leaked an NSA instruction manual from April 2013 that indicated that communications on wanadoo.fr and alcatel-lucent.fr were targeted by the NSA’s upstream data collection program. Wanadoo, a former subsidiary of France Telecom, became part of Orange in 2006, but one third of Orange clients, or 4.5 million people, still use the wanadoo.fr address. Access to employees’ communications on alcatel-lucent.fr should be of major interest to the NSA, since Alcatel-Lucent, which was formed by the merger of the French group Alcatel and the American Lucent Technologies, plays a central role in organizing the transport of digital data and laying the submarine cables through which the major part of world Internet and telecommunications flow.
October 20, 2013
An article by Jens Glusing, Laura Poitras, Marcel Rosenbach and Holger Stark in the German newsweekly Der Spiegel reported that a May 2010 document leaked by Snowden indicates that the NSA systematically infiltrated the computer network used by former Mexican President Felipe Calderon and his cabinet, gaining access to “diplomatic, economic and leadership communications which continue to provide insight into Mexico’s political system and internal stability.” Internal NSA documents also stated that in August 2009, the agency gained access to email communications of high ranking officials in Mexico’s Public Safety Secretariat, whose mission is to combat the drug trade and human trafficking.
October 17, 2013
Tory (Conservative) Member of the UK Parliament Julian Smith has written to the Metropolitan police asking for The Guardian to be prosecuted, under the Official Secrets Act and the Terrorism Act 2000, for its reporting on information leaked by Snowden. Mr. Smith has been granted a debate in Parliament next week in which he will “lay out the reasons why I believe that the Guardian has crossed the line between responsible journalism and seriously risking our national security and the lives of those who seek to protect us“. On his weekly radio call-in show, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg welcomed the broadening of the ISC’s inquiry into surveillance by UK intelligence services, but also responded to a caller who asked about the possibility of a police investigation of The Guardian by stating that, “Anything that helps terrorists and other people to learn more about the technical methods used by our agencies to keep us safe, and so allow them to do more harm to us, is a very bad thing.”
October 16, 2013
Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the Chairperson of the UK Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee (the “ISC”), announced that his Committee would investigate whether UK laws governing the interception of communications are still fit for their purpose and would also consider wider questions about the “balance to be found between our individual right to privacy and our collective right to security.” Although the ISC will examine classified information, it will also invite written evidence “more broadly, including from the public, to ensure that the committee can consider the full range of opinions expressed on these topics“. Mr. Rifkind’s announcement of a broader inquiry follows a report by the ISC in July, which found that the GCHQ had not violated UK law by accessing data from the NSA’s Prism Program.
For more on the ISC’s July report, see Aidan Booth and Adina Schwartz, “Legal Challenges to Surveillance Programs by the NSA and GCHQ” .
Keith Vaz, the Labor head of the UK Parliament’s Commons home affairs committee, announced that his Committee would investigate “elements of the Guardian’s involvement in, and publication of, the Snowden leaks.” Former Tory cabinet minister Liam Fox had written to Mr. Vaz to request an investigation, and Prime Minister David Cameron had also encouraged an investigation by select committees of Parliament.
October 14, 2013
On the basis of documents leaked by Snowden, including an internal NSA powerpoint presentation, The Washington Post reported that the NSA has been intercepting hundreds of millions of email address books and “buddy lists” from instant messaging services, many of them belonging to Americans, as they move across global data links. This data collection is not subject to the restrictions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) since arrangements with foreign telecommunications companies and allied intelligence services enable the NSA to intercept the data at overseas access points.
In response to reported NSA hacking of Brazil’s state-run oil company Petrobras and interception of billions of emails and calls to Brazilians, President Dilma Rousseff tasked the country’s Federal Data Processing Service (Serpro) with developing a secure email service.
October 11, 2013
In response to several complaints, Luxemburg’s data protection authority, the CNPD, is investigating whether Skype’s cooperation with the NSA’s Prism program, violates the provision in Luxemburg’s data protection law that “No person other than the user concerned may listen to, tap or store communications or the traffic data relating thereto, or engage in any other kinds of interception or surveillance thereof, without the consent of the user concerned.” The results of the investigation are expected to be reported within three weeks.
October 10, 2013
Lon Snowden, the father of leaker Edward J. Snowden, arrived in Russia as the guest of Anatoly G. Kucherena, Mr. Snowden’s legal aide in Russia. Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald has also suggested that he might visit Edward Snowden in Russia.
October 3, 2013
A challenge to Britain’s surveillance of the contents and metadata of emails and telephone calls through the GCHQ’s TEMPORA program and UK Intelligence Services’ use of the NSA’s PRISM Program has been brought in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The challenge, brought by English PEN, the Open Rights Group and Big Brother Watch, as well as by a German activist, seeks a declaration that the surveillance is an illegal breach of the right to privacy, and aims to force the UK government to tighten its current laws regulating surveillance, mainly, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA). The coalition filed in the ECHR after the British government said that no such challenge could be brought before its domestic courts and that a complaint could be made only to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), which does not hold its proceedings in public.
The legal documents in the case are available at: http://www.privacynotprism.org.uk
October 1, 2013
At a hearing at the Electronic Mass Surveillance of EU Citizens Inquiry of the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee on September 30, Jessalyn Radack, a former ethics advisor to the National Security Agency who has represented several prominent dissident former NSA officials and now works for the Government Accountability Project in Washington, read an alleged message from Edward J. Snowden, which stated that it should not take the “persecution and exile” of leakers to generate robust international debate on the breadth of government surveillance. Also testifying before the Committee were former senior NSA official and whistle blower Thomas A. Drake, Annie Machon, a former senior official of the UK’s M15, and representatives of EPIC and the ACLU.
September 20, 2013
The German newsweekly Der Spiegel reported that documents leaked by Snowden showed that the UK counterpart of the NSA, the GCHQ, was responsible for a cyber attack against Belgacom, a partly state-owned Belgian telecommunications company. Some of the major customers of Belgacom are the European Commission, the European Council, and the European Parliament. After Belgacom referred the matter to Belgian prosecutors, the Belgian Prime Minister stated that there had been a “violation of the public firm’s integrity.”
September 19, 2013
An editorial in the prestigious international science journal Nature, which is published in the UK, stated that “the NSA’s actions [in compromising or getting around encryption techniques] have corrupted the very fabric of the Internet,” and further opined that “[c]ertainly, mathematicians in the NSA, and external academics working with the agency, should examine their consciences.” The editorial reported that the Internet Engineering Task Force, an international body that develops the core standards for the Internet, was examining how Internet protocols could be strengthened to protect security and privacy against NSA-type attacks. In addition, cryptographers at the University of Bristol in the UK had published an open letter calling for a parliamentary inquiry into how security had been compromised.
September 17, 2013
The Brazilian President, Dilma Rousseff, has called off a State visit to the United States. It was scheduled to begin October 23rd and would have been the first visit by a Brazilian president since 1995. The Brazilian government said “given the proximity of the scheduled state visit to Washington – and in the absence of a timely investigation of the incident [the alleged NSA Surveillance on the Brazilian president], with corresponding explanations and the commitment to cease the interception activities” the visit could not go ahead, as it had planned.
A WhiteHouse spokesman seemed to suggest that this was a joint decision, though Brazilian officials have not commented on that.http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-24133161
The European Parliament, the European Union’s only directly elected body, nominated Edward Snowden for the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, which is considered the top human rights prize in Europe, and has previously been bestowed on Nelson Mandela, Daw Aung San Suu Ky, and other luminaries. The nomination is seen as a symbolic move that shows the displeasure of Europeans with Washington’s spying activities. According to the Members of the European Parliament who nominated him, Daniel Cohn-Bendit of France and Rebecca Harms of Germany, Mr Snowden “deserves to be honored for shedding light on the systematic infringements of civil liberties by U.S. and European Secret Services“. They added that “Snowden has risked his freedom to help us protect ours“. Three other candidates are competing with Snowden for the prize, and the winner will be announced in October.
September 11, 2013
A Memorandum of Understanding between the NSA and its counterpart, the Israeli Sigint National Unit (ISNU), provided to The Guardian by Edward Snowden, states that “NSA routinely sends ISNU” signals intelligence (“SIGINT”) data, including, but not limited to, “transcripts, gists, facsimiles, telex, voice and Digital Network Intelligence (DNI) metadata and content.” SIGINT is provided to the ISNU without the NSA’s first minimizing it “to determine whether US person [i.e., United States citizens and permanent legal residents] information is essential to assess or understand the significance of the foreign intelligence.” The stated purpose of the Memorandum is to establish procedures for ensuring that the ISNU’s handling of unminimized data “is consistent with the requirements placed upon NSA by U.S. law and Executive Order to establish safeguards protecting the rights of U.S. persons under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.” The Memorandum states, however, that “[t]his agreement is not intended to create any legally enforceable rights and shall not be construed to be either an international agreement or a legally binding instrument according to international law.”
The Memorandum of Understanding, as published in full by The Guardian, is at: http://www.theguardian.com/world/interactive/2013/sep/11/nsa-israel-intelligence-memorandum-understanding-document
In reporting on the Memorandum of Understanding, The Guardian also reported that in a top-secret document from 2008, a senior NSA official stated that although “the Israelis are extraordinarily good Sigint partners for us,” they are also “the third most aggressive intelligence service against the US.”
September 9, 2013
Yahoo’s latest transparency report revealed that between January and June of this year, it received 12,444 disclosure requests from the US, of which it rejected 2% and found no data on users in 801 requests. Yahoo received 1,709 disclosure requests from the UK, of which it reject 27%. The highest number of rejected requests was for disclosure on details of 816 users by Germany, and the greatest percentage of rejected requests was 41% of those by Singapore.
September 7, 2013
Documents seen by the German news weekly DER SPIEGEL reveal that the NSA and GCHQ have the capacity to access user data from smart phones from all leading manufacturers. This includes the Apple iPhone, the Google Android operating system and BlackBerry devices. The NSA is reported to be able to see contact lists, SMS traffic, notes and locational “information about where a user has been”. According to DER SPIEGEL, the documents suggest that there has not been mass surveillance of smart phone data, but rather targeting “in some cases in an individually tailored manner.”
September 6, 2013
An article written in partnership by The New York Times, The Guardian and ProPublica on the basis of documents The Guardian obtained from Snowden reported that the NSA and GCHQ have been able to decrypt much of the traffic on the Internet. Intelligence officials had asked The New York Times and ProPublica not to publish the article because it might prompt foreign targets to make their communications more difficult to read, but after removing some specific facts, the news organizations decided to publish “because of the value of a public debate about government actions that weaken the most powerful privacy tools.”
Responding to the reports about the NSA’s decryption efforts, Paul Kocher, a leading cryptographer who helped design the SSL protocol, recalled how the NSA lost the public battle in 1990 to insert a government backdoor into all encryption, and said, “And they went and did it anyway, without telling anyone.”
At the Group of 20 summit meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia, President Obama attempted to assure Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff that he took the allegations about the NSA’s interception of their communications seriously. Insisting that she might still cancel her scheduled visit to the US in October, President Rousseff stated that President Obama had agreed to give the Brazilian government information on the surveillance practices by Wednesday.
September 2, 2013
Journalist Glenn Greenwald told the Brazilian newspaper O Globo’s news program “Fantastico” that a document dated June 2012 shows that the NSA targeted the email communications of the Presidents of Brazil and Mexico. While the document includes messages that Mexican President Pena Nieto sent before he was elected, it does not contain any communications from Brazilian Dilma Rousseff. Brazilian Justice Minister Eduardo Cardozo told the newspaper O Globo that “if the facts of the report are confirmed, they would be considered very serious and would constitute a clear violation of Brazil’s sovereignty“.
Brazil and Mexico summoned their respective United States ambassadors today, following revelations by Glenn Greenwald, based on documents leaked by Snowden, that the NSA had been spying on both countries’ Presidents.
According to The New York Times, Brazil was more outraged than Mexico. José Eduardo Cardozo, Brazil’s Justice minister, stated that Brazil had requested an explanation from Washington regarding the revelations that the NSA had gained access to specific e-mails, telephone calls and text messages of President Rousseff’s top aides. He emphasized that he had already proposed a legal accord regulating United States intelligence activities in Brazil and that the NSA activities “would clearly not fit” within an accord. Brazilian officials refused to comment on speculation as to whether President Dilma Rousseff’s scheduled visit to the United States next month would still take place.
In order to protect its communications from United States surveillance, Brazil is planning to establish an underwater Internet cable that will connect the country to Europe and Africa directly. Furthermore, the Brazilian government has chosen a “French-Italian venture to build a satellite for military and civilian use,” and has also ordered its Postal Service to develop an encrypted national email service for civilian use.
Documents leaked by Snowden show that the NSA hacked into the internal communications system of Arab news broadcaster Al Jazeera, as well as the airline reservation services of the Russian airline Aeroflot.
August 30, 2013
The UK newspaper, The Independent, reported that documents leaked by Snowden showed that as part of the GCHQ’s Tempora program, the UK operates a top secret internet-monitoring station in the Middle East, whose precise location was not revealed by the Independent for the security reasons. All of the messages and data passed back and forth on the underseas cables in that region are copied into giant computer storage “buffers” and then sifted for data of special interest. The Middle East station then passes the data on to the GCHQ in Cheltenham, which in turn shares it with the NSA. The disclosure comes as the Metropolitan Police announced a terrorism investigation into material found on the computer of David Miranda.
At the start of a scheduled hearing at the high court, attorneys for David Miranda and the UK stated that they had reached an agreement that the government could continue to examine the digital material seized from Mr. Miranda at Heathrow Airport under similar conditions to those set forth in the court’s preliminary injunction issued on August 23. During the August 30 hearing, deputy national security advisor Oliver Robbins stated that the government’s examination had already shown that files seized from Miranda contained information that could endanger the lives of UK intelligence staff, but Miranda’s lawyers accused the government of making “sweeping and vague” claims. At a judicial review in October, Mr. Miranda plans to argue that his seizure was a misuse of the government’s powers under Schedule 7.
The editor-in-chief of The Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, said that the UK government’s claims to the high court about their urgent need to examine the files seized from Mr. Miranda were belied by the fact that Guardian executives directed the government to The New York Times and Pro Publica for files pertaining to the GCHQ two days after The Guardian destroyed its hard drives at the government’s behest on July 22. The government never contacted Pro Publica, and took 23 days to contact The New York Times and had no further contact with The Times after that.
A spokesperson for the New York Times stated that The Times’ executive editor Jill Abrahamson and managing editor Dean Baquet met with a UK government representative in mid-August and declined a request to turn over classified material.
August 29, 2013
In an op ed piece in The New York Times, the political editor of the German weekly newspaper Die Zeit, Jochen Bittner, described misunderstandings on the part of both Germans and Americans that needed to be eliminated in order “to convince our American friends that it is important to agree on international standards for data protection”. According to Bittner, “Data collection by American governments appears driven by [the] misguided angst” exemplified NSA Director Keith Alexander’s statement in 2008, “Why can’t we collect all the signals, all the time?”
August 28, 2013
A woman has lost a legal challenge against Section 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. Sylvie Beghal, a French citizen who lives in the UK and is married to an Algerian who was convicted of terrorism in a French court, was stopped at East Midlands airport on a flight from Paris in January 2011. As a result of her refusal to answer police questions, she was charged and convicted of failing to comply with the police order. In a challenge brought before the High Court, Ms. Meghal argued that Section 7 “breached her right to privacy and family life and restricted her freedom of movement between two EU countries“. She contended that the powers were “so widely drawn” that they meant “anybody could be stopped without reasonable suspicion“. In dismissing her challenge, the judges ruled that the stops were “neither arbitrary nor disproportionate“. According to Lord Justice Gross, “the balance struck [in Section 7] between individual rights and the public interest in protection against terrorism does not violate the fundamental human rights in question“.
Ms. Beghal’s legal challenge to the police powers granted by Section 7 is in contrast to David Miranda’s challenge to his detention and subsequent investigation on the grounds that they fell outside the stated purpose of Section 7’s stated purpose of investigating terrorism.
The Paris Prosecutor’s office informed Reuters that in mid-July, it had launched a preliminary investigation into whether the Prism program violated French laws against fraudulent access to an automated data processing system, collection of personal data by fraudulent means and willful violation of the intimacy of private life. The original complaint was filed on July 15 by the French civil rights groups, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the French Human Rights League (LDH). Although the complaint was filed against “persons unknown“, it named Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Paltalk, Facebook, AOL and Apple as “potential accomplices” of the NSA and FBI.
August 26, 2013
On the basis of documents leaked by Snowden, Laura Poitras, Marcel Rosenbach and Holger Stark reported in Der Spiegel on NSA efforts to spy on the EU delegation to the United Nations, including obtaining floor plans of the new offices to which the delegation moved in September 2012 so as to be able to gain access to the delegation’s data servers. According to a NSA operational overview from September 2010, the NSA has been targeting the EU embassy in Washington as well as the EU’s UN delegation in New York. Documents also described extensive NSA spying on the United Nations, extending to decrypting the UN’s internal videoconferencing facility and to intercepting and using illegal Chinese intelligence collection on the UN. The Der Spiegel reporters claimed that the documents belied President Obama’s recent attempts to defend the NSA by claiming that its activities were solely directed at counterterrorism.
According to The New York Times, the Der Spiegel revelations “may compound the frictions developing between the United States and its allies … — especially with Germany, where Chancellor Angela Merkel is in the midst of an election campaign.” The Times further stated that although German furor over Snowden’s revelations had appeared to be dying down, fresh outrage had been ignited by reports of the detention of David Miranda and of the destruction of computer hard drives at the Guardian’s London office.
The Guardian reported that a Russian newspaper, Kommersant, claimed that Snowden had intended to fly to Havana on an Aeroflot flight from Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport a day after arriving there from Hong Kong on June 23. In response to pressure from the United States, Cuban officials told Russian officials at the last minute to stop Snowden from boarding the flight.
August 24, 2013
In an open letter to UK Prime Minister David Cameron in the Guardian Observer, the editors of four Scandinavian newspapers criticized the detention of Miranda and the destruction of the Guardian’s computers as incompatible with the crucial role of a free press in fostering “vivid public debate addressing all fundamental aspects of society,” including “in situations where information revealed by the press is most inconvenient to governments and the intelligence community.” The editors wrote, “We are surprised by the recent acts by officials of your government against our colleagues at the Guardian and deeply concerned that a stout defender of democracy and free debate such as the United Kingdom uses antiterror legislation in order to legalise what amounts to harassment of both the paper and individuals associated with it. Moreover, it is deeply disturbing that the police have now announced a criminal investigation. We hope this is not to be seen as a step against journalists doing journalism.”
August 23, 2013
In response to demands from the UK government for GCHQ documents leaked by Snowden, the Guardian entered into a partnership that would give the New York Times access to some of the documents in the Guardian’s possession. The partnership was intended to take advantage of the protection that the First Amendment of the United States provides against prior restraint of publication, by contrast to the lack of protection under UK law.
The partnership was confirmed by The New York Times.
August 22, 2013
Ladar Levison, the founder of Lavabit, the email service used by Snowden, told the Guardian that “We are entering a time of state-sponsored intrusion into our privacy that we haven’t seen since the McCarthy era. And it’s on a much broader scale.” Levinson shut his service down last month after posting a message about a government investigation that would force him to “become complicit in crimes against the American people.” Describing either the investigation or the limits on what he could discuss about the investigation would place Levison in contempt of court, and he therefore did not comment about these matters to the Guardian. The Guardian surmised that Levinson had received a National Security Letter forcing to hand over any and all data in his company’s possession that would enable the US to track Snowden and anyone with whom he communicated. Silent Circle, which, like Lavabit, was an encrypted communications service, shut down and deleted its email program shortly after Levison shut down Lavabit. Pamela Jones (aka PJ) also closed her award-winning blog Groklaw citing Levison’s decision to shutter Lavabit.
Lawyers acting on behalf of David Miranda argued for a temporary injunction against government and police access to the nine items, including his laptop, mobile phone, memory cards and DVD’s taken from him when he was detained. In a partial victory for Miranda, London’s High Court ruled in the case of Miranda v Secretary of State Home Office, that the government and police were not allowed to inspect, copy or share data. However they did give authorities permission to “examine the seized material for the defence of national security and also to investigate whether Mr Miranda, 28, is a person who is or has been concerned with the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism“.
The government was given 7 days to “prove there is a genuine threat to national security.” On August 30, the High Court will hold a full hearing on the question of continuing police inspection of the seized materials and will also further consider Miranda’s application for an interim injunction against examination of the materials pending a determination by the High Court of whether the seizure was legal.
It was also confirmed that the Metropolitan Police had launched a criminal investigation after examining some of the materials.
In a letter to UK Home Secretary Theresa May on August 21, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjorn Jagland, asked for an explanation of David Miranda’s detention. Jagland wrote that, “These measures, if confirmed, may have a potentially chilling effect on journalists’ freedom of expression as guaranteed by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights”.
August 21, 2013
British legislators have clashed over the process of holding Brazilian citizen David Miranda. The Home Secretary, Teresa May, has stated that the police were “right” to hold him if they thought that he was holding information that is “useful to terrorists”. Lord Falconer however, someone who helped enact the legislation, disagreed saying that he believed that wasn’t what the legislation was meant for.
David Miranda’s lawyers have started legal proceedings to “protect the confidentiality of the sensitive journalistic material” seized. A judicial review application is due to be held at London’s High Court tomorrow to determine whether there will be a temporary restriction to stop the materials that were seized from being viewed by the authorities.
August 20, 2013
An article in The Guardian reported that its decision to destroy computer equipment in its London office resulted from its lawyers’ assessment that the UK government “might either seek an injunction under the law of confidence, a catch-all statute that covers any unauthorised possession of confidential material, or start criminal proceedings under the Official Secrets Act. Either brought with it the risk that the Guardian’s reporting would be frozen everywhere and that the newspaper would be forced to hand over material.” Moreover, the Guardian feared that forensic examination might enable investigators to identify the particular journalists who had seen and worked on particular files. The destruction was done on July 20 in the presence of GCHQ operatives by a senior editor and Guardian computer expert who used angle grinders and other tools to pulverise the hard drives and memory chips on which Snowden’s encrypted files were stored. Emphasizing the purely symbolic effect of the destruction, the article stated that, “Twelve days after the destruction of the files the Guardian reported on US funding of GCHQ eavesdropping operations and published a portrait of working life in the British agency’s huge ‘doughnut’ building in Cheltenham. Guardian US, based and edited in New York, has also continued to report on evidence of NSA co-operation with US telecommunications corporations to maximise the collection of data on internet and phone users around the world.”
A White House spokesman told reporters that the UK government had informed the United States of its intention to detain Miranda, but denied that the detention was done at the direction of the United States.
According to the UK newspaper, The Independent, the “heads up” to Washington cast doubt on Downing Street’s denial of any involvement in the detention decision.
In a published letter to the EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding,, the Chairman of the Article 29 Working Group, Jacob Kohnstamm, stated that the group would independently investigate PRISM and other surveillance by the NSA. The Article 29 group consists of the national data protection supervisors of the 28 member states of the EU. According to Kohnstamm, “The WP29 considers it is its duty to also assess independently to what extent the protection provided by EU data protection legislation is at risk and possibly breached and what the consequences of PRISM and related programs may be for the privacy of our citizens’ personal data“.
August 19, 2013
David Miranda, the partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, who has been writing about the UK and US surveillance operations, was detained on Sunday at Heathrow airport. Held under Section 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000, Miranda was forced to wait the maximum 9 hours before being released but not before his electronic devices were retained. The Terrorism Act was designed to help officers question people about whether they are involved with acts of terrorism. Several British MP’s have spoken out wanting to know why Mr Miranda was detained with fears that it was an abuse of power.
BBC News article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-23750289
Glenn Greenwald response: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/18/david-miranda-detained-uk-nsa
The editor of The Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, reported that two GCHQ security experts had supervised the destruction of hard drives in the basement of The Guardian’s London office. This culminated slightly more than two months of demands by senior UK government officials for the return or destruction of all the Snowden documents in The Guardian’s possession, towards the end of which the government had threatened to go to court to force The Guardian to comply. Rusbridger wrote that, “Whitehall was satisfied, but it felt like a peculiarly pointless piece of symbolism that understood nothing about the digital age. We will continue to do patient, painstaking reported on the Snowden documents, we just won’t do it in London. The seizure of Miranda’s laptop, phones, hard drives and camera will similarly have no effect on Greenwald’s work.”
Nick Cohen, a columnist for the conservative weekly, The Spectator, concluded a commentary on Miranda’s detention by warning that, “The next time they try to tell you that the secrecy and attempts to silence legitimate debate are ‘in the public interest,’ do not forget what they did to David Miranda, because they can do it to you, too.”
The Guardian published a collection of commentary on Miranda’s detention.
August 2, 2013
German media has disclosed a number of telecommunication companies who reportedly have been involved with the GCHQ surveillance program.
Germany has ended a spy pact with the US and the UK. The agreement, that dates back to 1968-9, was cancelled as a result of the revelations from Edward Snowden. The move is seen as largely symbolic given that it hasn’t been used since the end of the Cold War. The agreement gave the right for Western countries, who had troops stationed in Germany, to request surveillance operations to protect those forces.
UK privacy groups accuse GCHQ of selling its services to the US. Liberty and Privacy International both spoke out after the latest revelations in the Guardian with the latter stating “it shows contempt for the rule of law”. The groups urge for the practices to come to an end and call for proper oversight of the intelligence programs.
August 1, 2013
The National Security Agency (NSA) paid the UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) £100 million ($150m) in secret funding. The payments, which started back in 2009, reportedly were made to “secure access and influence” over Britain’s intelligence gathering programs. Whilst it shows the close relationship between the countries, some are concerned over the influence that Washington may have over its counterparts. This was played down however by a UK Cabinet spokesman.
Russia grants temporary asylum to Edward Sn0wden. The document shows an issue date of July 31, 2013 and is valid for one year. Mr Snowden has now left the Sheremetyevo airport’s transit zone and is “under the care of Sarah Harrison”, according to Wikileaks.
July 26, 2013
The NY Times published a letter dated July 23 from Attorney General Holder to the Russian Minister of Justice assuring him, in connection with Snowden’s request to Russia for temporary asylum, that Snowden would not face the death penalty if returned to the US.
July 24, 2013
Senior German officials want to expand the 1966 UN human rights treaty so that it covers modern communications such as email, instant messaging and social media, resulting in a uniform base line of legal protections of privacy for people throughout the world. The officials also suggest suspending the US-EU “safe harbour” pact signed in 2000 that conditions EU-US commerce on US companies’ providing Europeans with the same level of privacy that they could expect under European law. According to the German officials, this agreement has already been broken by the NSA activities.
July 22, 2013
Seemingly laying the groundwork for granting Snowden’s request for temporary asylum, Russian government officials accused the United States of hypocrisy in asking for Snowden’s extradition, saying that the United States had repeatedly relied on the lack of an extradition treaty to refuse Russia’s requests for the extradition of terrorist suspects and those suspected of serious criminal offenses.
July 18, 2013
In part because of the standoff in regard to Edward Snowden, President Obama may cancel a scheduled sidetrip to visit President Vladimir Putin in Moscow after the annual gathering of the Group of 20 nations in St. Petersburg. Russia has yet to decide on Snowden’s asylum request.
July 17, 2013
UK Security Services did not break the law in accessing data through the US PRISM program according to a parliamentary committee. The Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) stated that Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) use of PRISM was legal under the authority of the Intelligence Services Act 1994.
The basis for the UK Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee’s (“ISC”) decision to clear GCHQ of bypassing UK law in acquiring the contents of communications from Prism was that each GCHQ request for information from Prism was accompanied by the requisite warrant for interception signed by a minister. The ISC called, however, for further scrutiny of the law governing GCHQ investigations, stating that “legislation … expressed in general terms” had left the GCHQ to develop its own guidelines for complying with UK human rights law.
Privacy advocates faulted the ISC for not investigating how UK government agencies besides GCHQ might have acquired data from Prism and for deciding not to investigate allegations about the illegality of the GCHQ’s Tempora program.
President Vladimir Putin stated that he did not expect US-Russian relations to be harmed if Russia offered asylum to Edward Snowden. While accusing the US of hypocrisy in regard to human rights, Mr. Putin also insisted that a condition for Russia’s granting him asylum would be Mr. Snowden’s agreeing not to harm US interests.
July 16, 2013
Edward J. Snowden formally applied for temporary asylum in Russia, citing fears that he could face torture or the death penalty if he was extradited to the U.S.
July 15, 2013
In a television interview, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany called for EU legislation to require Internet companies to disclose what information they store about users and to whom they provide it. Partly because its data protection laws are among the strictest in the EU, Germany had been slow to back the aggressive EU privacy initiative called for by, among others, EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding. In the interview, however, Merkel stated that, “[W]e have great regulation for Germany, but if Facebook is registered in Ireland, then it falls under Irish jurisdiction. Consequently we need a common European agreement.”
President Vladimir Putin told an audience of students that the United States had effectively trapped Edward J. Snowden by frightening countries that otherwise would have granted him asylum.
July 14, 2013
Russia appears to be responding to Mr. Snowden’s presence and his revelations about the N.S.A.’s surveillance by pushing for increased Russian government access to Internet communications.
July 13, 2013
Edward J. Snowden met with lawyers and human rights advocates in Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow and asked them to aid him to obtain asylum in Russia until such time as the United States and its allies would desist from preventing him from traveling to Latin America, where three countries have expressed a willing to take him in. Despite the Russian government’s evident role in arranging the meeting, today Russian foreign minister Sergey V. Lavrov insisted that the government had had no contact with him. Senior Kremlin officials said that Russia’s Federal Migration Service the formal appeal from Snowden that would be a precondition for granting him asylum. The United States has been pressuring Russia to extradite Snowden.
In an article in the Guardian, Glenn Greenwald accused Reuters of distorting comments he had made in an interview with the Argentinian newspaper, La Nacion, about Snowden’s decision not to release documents that would inflict great harm on the United States and about why it was in the interests of the United States for Snowden to remain alive.
The La Nacion interview is at http://www.lanacion.com.ar/1600674-glenn-greenwald-snowden-tiene-informacion-para-causar-mas-dano, as translated by Google, http://translate.google.com.br/translate?sl=es&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.lanacion.com.ar%2F1600674-glenn-greenwald-snowden-tiene-informacion-para-causar-mas-dano
The Reuters article is at http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/07/13/us-usa-security-snowden-greenwald-idUSBRE96C08Q20130713
July 12, 2013
German Chancellor Angela Merkel continues to have a comfortable lead in the polls for September elections, even though a survey conducted last week showed that 78% of Germans thought she should more pressure on the Obama administration in regard to the allegations of spying by the NSA. In an interview with the German newspaper Die Zeit on July 11, Merkel defended German cooperation with the NSA’s Prism program and rejected any comparison between it and the methods used by the Stasi, the secret police of the former East German republic. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/12/world/europe/merkel-seems-to-weather-german-anger-over-nsa-spying.html?_r=0
July 11, 2013
The U.S. government is pressuring Latin American countries not to grant Snowden asylum. According to a senior State Department official, helping Snowden “would put [a country’s]relations [with the U.S.] in a very bad place for a long time to come. If someone thinks things would go away, it won’t be the case.”
Two French human rights groups, Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Human Rights League, filed a lawsuit in Paris seeking an investigation into whether the NSA’s surveillance violated French privacy law and into the role of US Internet companies, including Facebook, Apple, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Skype in data-gathering by the NSA.
The legal complaint is available in French at:
July 10, 2013
Snowden’s revelations have prompted Indians to ask questions about their government’s Centralized Monitoring System (C.M.S.), under which all Internet service and telecommunications providers are required to provide the government with direct access to communications passing through them.
July 8, 2013
The UK charity group Privacy International submitted a claim to the UK Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) seeking an immediate suspension of the UK’s use of data from the NSA’s Prism program temporary injunction to UK Tempora program.
Spiegel Online International published an interview by Snowden on Germany and other countries’ cooperation with the NSA. Snowden gave the interview in mid-May, before going public with his revelations, Jacob Appelbaum, a developer of encryption and security software who trains human rights groups and journalists in how to use the Internet anonymously.
July 7, 2013
The Brazilian intends to bring a motion before the United Nations (UN) asking for improved cyber security to prevent the type of surveillance exemplified by the NSA’s surveillance of Brazilians’ Internet and telephone use. According to the Brazilian Minister of Communications, the Brazilian Constitution guarantees the right to privacy and intimacy. Any Brazilian companies that cooperated with the NSA violated the Constitution and committed crimes under Brazilian law.
http://oglobo.globo.com/mundo/brasil-cobra-esclarecimentos-aos-estados-unidos-sobre-espionagem-8946033, as translated by Google, http://translate.google.com.br/translate?sl=pt&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Foglobo.globo.com%2Fmundo%2Feua-espionaram-milhoes-de-mails-ligacoes-de-brasileiros-8940934&act=url
July 6, 2013
The NSA uses its Fairview program partners, under which it partners with a large US telecommunications company, the identity of which is currently unknown, and that US company then partners with telecommunications companies in foreign countries, to directly access the telecommunications system in Brazil.
http://oglobo.globo.com/mundo/eua-espionaram-milhoes-de-mails-ligacoes-de-brasileiros-8940934, as translated by Google, http://translate.google.com.br/translate?sl=pt&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Foglobo.globo.com%2Fmundo%2Feua-espionaram-milhoes-de-mails-ligacoes-de-brasileiros-8940934&act=url
July 4, 2013
The French equivalent of the US metadata program was disclosed by the prominent French newspaper, Le Monde. The program reportedly allows “spying on anyone, any time”.
Several European countries refused permission for Bolivian President’s airplane to enter their airspace after reports, which turned out to be incorrect, that Snowden was on board.
A joint EU-US expert group is to be set up to investigate alleged US spying on EU officials with the findings due in October. EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding called Snowden’s revelations about the NSA’s PRISM Program and the GHCQ’s Tempora surveillance “a wake-up call for us to advance on our data protection reform,” and warned that there could be no EU-US trade deal without mutual trust.
The United States reportedly spies on its allies in Europe, including Germany, by bugging EU buildings. Britain is said to be exempt, though, due to its close cooperation and partnership with the NSA.
Reactions from European leaders
A string of prominent figures in Europe responded to the reports. They included Germany’s Angela Merkel, EU High Representative Catherine Ashton, European Commissioner for Justice Viviane Reding and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.
French President Francois Hollande warned that allegations of US bugging of European embassies could threaten the massive EU-US trade deal.
US Secretary of State John Kerry played down suggestions of a cooling of relations between the US and China as well as softening his tone towards Russia, in connection with both countries’ roles in allowing Snowden to escape extradition to the US.
Snowden was reportedly issued a “safepass” from Ecuador allowing him to travel there for the purposes of claiming asylum. However, the document turned out to be invalid, as it was issued by someone who lacked the authority to do so.
The Chinese defense ministry said that “the Prism- gate affair” revealed the hypocrisy of US complaints about the Chinese government’s involvement in computer hacking and espionage
With Snowden’s departure, the Hong Kong government’s focus turned to his revelations about American intelligence-gathering operations in Hong Kong and mainland China..
In a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, British Foreign Secretary William Hague defended the UK-US spying programs that Snowden revealed, stating that both countries acted within “strict legal framework[s]” and that secrecy is necessary to defeat terrorists.
Russian president Vladimir Putin appeared to rule out extraditing Snowden to the US, stating that Snowden was a “free man” and that there was no extradition treaty in place between Russia and the US.
A Guardian exclusive revealed that that the GCHQ had gained access to the network of transatlantic cables and cables between Europe and the UK carrying phone calls and Internet traffic, and that, in cooperation with the NSA, the GCHQ was acquiring, searching and storing vast streams of sensitive personal information. .
Click here for a more detailed, updated discussion of the UK surveillance and the legal questions it raises.
June 17, 2013
It’s reported that the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MOD) served news outlets with a D notice over surveillance leaks. The notice, which was sent to the BBC and other media outlets on June 7th, asked editors not to publish information that could “jeopardise both national security and possibly military personal”. The notice was marked “private and confidential: not for publication or broadcast”. The notice is only an advisory however and whilst such notices are normally adhered to, there is no requirement to do so.
The Guardian reported that the GCHQ, the UK counterpart of the NSA, had intercepted foreign politicians’ communications at the 2009 G20 summit.
Here are the related, heavily redacted documents showing their work:
Countries outraged at the suggestions
Turkey’s foreign ministry demanded answers, with further condemnation from South Africa and Russia, describing the reports as a “scandal”.
The UK Home Office instructed airlines not to allow Snowden to board any flights to the UK, stating that any airline that brought Snowden into the UK would be liable to be fined 2,000 British pounds ($3,100).
The Guardian reported that GCHQ has access to the user communications data that the NSA’s Prism program has been obtaining from US Internet companies.