Right when you thought this whole NSA and PRISM debacle was just slightly slowing down a bit, things are picking back up, thanks to a new report. According to multiple anonymous sources, it's said that federal government officials are demanding websites to hand over user passwords in order to monitor individual users even more.
With the recent fiasco with the NSA and PRISM program, concern for user privacy has skyrocketed tremendously, and now that the word is out on tech companies, they have no choice but to make things better for their users. Google is doing its part, and it's said that the search giant is secretly testing encryption methods for Google Drive files for protection against the NSA.
The PRISM news may have slowed in recent weeks, but the backlash against companies who were accussed of giving the government unmitigated access to their users' data hasn't, and these companies are responding to clear their names. Yahoo! is one such company, and it has recently received a victory in court, with a ruling being issued that will declassify a document showing that it fought against FISA orders.
Organizers of DEF CON 2013, the annual hacking convention, have told the US federal government not to attend, after revelations about the NSA PRISM program and other surveillance activities have left the security community wary of the feds. In a post on the conference's homepage, DEF CON founder Jeff Moss (aka "The Dark Tangent") said that, while traditionally DEF CON has been open to a low-key federal presence, this year the various agencies should sit the show out.
Tensions between the US and Europe continue to escalate, after the EU voted to begin an "in-depth inquiry" into allegations that the NSA and other US security agencies bugged EU premises as well as regularly monitor the communications European citizens. The Civil Liberties Committee investigation - supported by 483 votes to 98 (with 65 abstentions) - sees the EU demand full details from the US on how, exactly, programs like PRISM affect EU member states, in addition to exploring greater protections for whistleblowers like Edward Snowden.
'Stop using Google and Facebook' is the advice from Germany's highest security official, warning web users concerned about NSA monitoring to steer clear of anything that might pass through US services. "Whoever fears their communication is being intercepted in any way should use services that don't go through American servers" Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich cautioned today, the AP reports, the latest in escalating German concerns about the extent of US spying programs like PRISM
PRISM whistleblower Edward Snowden has blasted the US government and President Obama for "deception" and trying to sabotage his right to asylum, as news breaks that the former NSA contractor has withdrawn his application for asylum in Russia. Snowden, who made headlines last month when he revealed confidential details on how the US security services monitor, collect, and analyze electronic communications, is believed to be in Russia after having petitioned for safe asylum there among 21 countries, and released a strong critique on how Obama's government has handled the furore. However, the BBC now reports, it seems Russia won't be Snowden's final destination.
International tensions over the NSA's PRISM monitoring program continue to grow, with federal prosecutors in Germany revealing they are ramping up for a potential investigation into whether the US government has broken German law. The preliminary inquiries are to "achieve a reliable factual basis" on the extent of PRISM and similar programs harvesting electronic data on non-US citizens, the German Federal Prosecutors' Office confirmed this weekend. Meanwhile, at least one criminal complaint has been filed in Germany, in Hesse last week, with the Federal Prosecutors' Office warning that more were likely.
The US Army has blocked access to the website of UK newspaper and PRISM whistleblower The Guardian, claiming security issues over leaked "classified information". Describing the move as "network hygiene" a spokesperson for the Army Network Enterprise Technology Command (NETCOM) confirmed the block to the Monterey Herald, after restricted access was spotted this week. "There are strict policies and directives in place regarding protecting and handling classified information" spokesman Gordon Van Vleet highlighted, with army security staff supposedly arguing that in fact the censorship is in the best interests of armed forces employees.
Microsoft has demanded permission to disclose FISA security requests, following Google in aiming to publicize the frequency and extent of calls from the NSA and others to hand over user data. "Microsoft respectfully moves this court for an order, judgement, or other such relief as the court may deem appropriate declaring that Microsoft may lawfully disclose aggregate statistics concerning any orders and/or directives that Microsoft may have received under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and/or FISA Amendments Act" the company said in a motion [pdf link] filed on June 19.