President Obama has defended the NSA's spying actions, arguing that the continuing pace of technological advancement means surveillance is essential, though revealing a "series of concrete and substantial reforms" he believes will address public concerns. The proposals, already being picked apart by privacy advocates, include changing the controversial section 215 metadata program, and what Obama described as the "unprecedented" extending of rights around monitoring to non-US citizens outside of America.
A pension fund has sued IBM for $12.9 billion in revenue losses caused by the recent revelation of its partnership with the US Congress and the NSA to spy on Chinese customers. Many of China's companies pulled out of business arrangements with IBM after it became known that IBM was using its technology to collect customer information for the NSA. The suit cites IBM's open lobbying effort to persuade Congress to pass the bill allowing the spying program known as Prism.
The NSA is using billions of cellphone location records every day to track potential suspects worldwide, according to the latest leaks from government agency data, including the movements of US citizens despite not specifically going out of its way to collect them. "We are getting vast volumes" of information on cellphone location - amounting to records for hundreds of millions of individual devices - an NSA senior collection manager confirmed to The Washington Post, pointing to the agency's taps on international data cables that form the physical backbone of cellular networks.
Fiber-optic cable taps, not clandestine agreements with big cloud data users like Google and Yahoo, may have given the NSA its treasure-trove access to internet traffic, insiders suspect, with the government agency potentially targeting interconnects rather than data centers themselves. While data centers are heavily secured, the fiber-optic cable links between them are traditionally unencrypted, sources familiar with Google and Yahoo infrastructure told the NYTimes, fingering Level 3 Communications as the most likely target for NSA attention.
The US National Security Agency is working to undermine the security of Tor, the open-source internet anonymity tool, using targeted Firefox hacks and keyloggers in a - so-far believed to be unsuccessful - attempt to peel open the clandestine system. Leaked NSA documents, including presentations titled "Tor Stinks", were among the cache of information leaked by PRISM whistleblower Edward Snowden, the Guardian reports, and detail attempts made by the NSA - and GCHQ, the agency's counterpart in the UK - to crack what's described as "the king of high-secure, low-latency internet anonymity."
Yesterday, Lavabit -- the email service used by Edward Snowden, catapulting it into unwanted fame -- filed a request to have its case partially unsealed, allowing for third parties to file amicus briefs. Today, an appeal filing has surfaced revealing some details about what went down with the email service after attracting the government's attention, but the request for unsealing is receiving backlash.
Facebook and Yahoo have petitioned the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) for permission to reveal how many personal data requests are made by the government, joining Google and Microsoft in taking a stand against secret snooping. The new suits, which join an amended Google transparency petition the search engine filed today, see Facebook and Yahoo voice concerns that they are unable to give any greater detail on what user information is disclosed in the name of national security than the raw overall numbers.
Google is accelerating efforts to toughen its data encryption, the company has revealed, aiming to curtail unofficial snooping on user information in the aftermath of NSA PRISM controversy. "It's an arms race" Eric Grosse, vice president for security engineering at Google, told the Washington Post, describing government-mandated hackers as "the most skilled players in this game" and insisting that as "a point of personal honor" the search giant would not do anything to ease NSA intrusion into its servers.
Google and Microsoft have sued the US government for the freedom to disclose FISA data surveillance requests, after demands from the two companies to reveal to users when the NSA requests information went unmet. "We believe we have a clear right under the U.S. Constitution to share more information with the public" Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel and executive vice president of legal and corporate affairs, wrote today, describing how while Google and Microsoft may often be seen as enemies, "today our two companies stand together."