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Posts Tagged ‘Edward Snowden’

Edward Snowden Says Governments Are Using COVID-19 To “Monitor Us Like Never Before”

Posted by M. C. on April 17, 2020

https://www.collective-evolution.com/2020/04/15/edward-snowden-says-governments-are-using-covid-19-to-monitor-us-like-never-before/

In Brief

  • The Facts:In the second episode of The Intercept’s new weekly show, host Glenn Greenwald explores the under-discussed consequences of the coronavirus pandemic with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and how it’s being used to take away more human rights.
  • Reflect On:Should the government use force on their citizenry to comply, or should they simply recommend safety measures and explain why they do?

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9/11 was a major event in human history, and although it was very traumatic and devastating, it served the collective in multiple ways. For example, the event raised questions and made people distrust their government. It also highlighted the massive amounts of corruption that exists within governments. Since 9/11, the masses have become aware of ‘false flag terrorism,’ which refers to the ‘powers that be’ creating, funding and even staging terrorist events in order to heighten the national security state and justify the invasion and infiltration of other countries  under the guise of good will and restoring democracy. In reality, this type of infiltration is usually used for ulterior motives like resource extraction, mass surveillance and installing a puppet government that is willing to work with governments and intelligence agencies who have a tremendous amount of power.

After 9/11 we saw various leaks from whistleblowers, organizations like Wikileaks, and numerous other proofs that governments were actually funding Terrorist organizations, and again, in some cases contributing to the ‘staging’ of terrorist attacks. The chemical weapons attacks in Syria a few years ago were a great example, and it eventually got to the point where congresspeople were introducing bills to stop their own government (The United States) from funding terrorist organizations like ISIS. Just like Tulsi Gabbard did with the “Stop Arming Terrorists Act.”

Terrorism is and always has been a classic case of powerful people creating the problem, so the exact same people can  propose the solution. Are we seeing the same thing with the coronavirus?

Whistleblowers like Edward Snowden and William Binney (one of the highest placed intelligence officials to ever blow the whistle), among others, have been exposing the National Security Agency (NSA) and the US Government with regards to the extent of their surveillance programs for quite a while. They’ve both leaked documents and ‘blown the whistle’ on just how far these agencies go to monitor not only their own citizens, but the citizes in other countries as well. They’ve also been quite outspoken that these programs are not put in place for our own protection, and that the ‘problems’ are simply a cover that are used to justify the implementation of these programs. According to Binney, these surveillance measures are not for our protection, but for “total population control.” (source)

What Snowden Has To Say About The Coronavirus

According to Edward Snowden, “Governments around the world are are exploiting the pandemic to monitor us like never before.” He and many others have been pointing out how society is moving fast towards an authoritarian type of existence, and how it’s already here. The enforcement or advocacy of strict obedience to authority at the expense of personal freedom has been here for quite a while, and it’s done in a very clever way. Many of us are concerned about having a good job, a house, a family and many of us believe we have freedom without being aware that in many ways, we really don’t. And all of the measures that take away our freedom are done so by manufacturing our consent to these measures, or by governments simply implementing these measures without the knowledge or approval of the people.  As Snowden mentions in his interview below, fear, panic and hysteria are usually the tools used to implement and justify these measures and manufacture our consent.

As authoritarianism spreads, as emergency laws proliferate, as we sacrifice our rights, we also sacrifice our capability to arrest the slide into a less liberal and less free world. Do you truly believe that when the first wave, this second wave, the 16th wave of the coronavirus is a long forgotten memory, that these capabilities will not be kept? -Edward Snowden (source)

Snowden points out that just like 9/11, the coronavirus will be used to heighten even more surveillance and security measures that won’t go away. I am sure many measures that are being put in place, just as they were put into place after 9/11, will remain classified and completely hidden from the citizenry. That’s why people like Edward Snowden are so important.

We are also seeing an authoritarian type of dictator policing the internet as well. Dr. Ron Paul had a piece that was recently flagged as ‘false news’ for simply sharing his opinion. He shares the same thoughts as Snowden to an extent:

Governments love crises because when the people are fearful they are more willing to give up freedoms for promises that the government will take care of them. After 9/11, for example, Americans accepted the near-total destruction of their civil liberties in the PATRIOT Act’s hollow promises of security.

People should ask themselves whether this coronavirus “pandemic” could be a big hoax, with the actual danger of the disease massively exaggerated by those who seek to profit – financially or politically – from the ensuing panic.

That is not to say the disease is harmless. Without question people will die from coronavirus. Those in vulnerable categories should take precautions to limit their risk of exposure. But we have seen this movie before. Government over-hypes a threat as an excuse to grab more of our freedoms. When the “threat” is over, however, they never give us our freedoms back. – Paul (source)

Below is a very interesting interview that Snowden recently gave with Glenn Greenwald, where they explore the “under-discussed consequences of the coronavirus pandemic” and “the risk of acquiescing to more surveillance during times of peril.” In it he goes into greater detail.

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The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity : Like Freedom? Then You Won’t Like the FREEDOM Act

Posted by M. C. on March 24, 2020

http://ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2020/march/23/like-freedom-then-you-won-t-like-the-freedom-act/

Written by Ron Paul

Last Monday, a bipartisan group of Senators and a coalition including libertarian and progressive activists thwarted a scheme to ram through the Senate legislation renewing three provisions of the USA FREEDOM Act (previously known as the USA PATRIOT Act). The bill had already been rushed through the House of Representatives, and most expected it to sail through the Senate. But, instead, Senate leadership had to settle for a 77-day extension.

Senate leadership was also forced to allow consideration of several amendments at a later date. Included is Sen. Rand Paul’s amendment that would forbid the FISA court from issuing warrants targeting American citizens.

Deep state supporters claim the expiring business records provision (which authorizes the collection of our communications and was at the center of Edward Snowden’s 2013 revelations), lone wolf provision (which allows government to subject an individual with no known ties to terrorists to warrantless surveillance), and roving wiretaps provision (which allows government to monitor communications on any device that may be used by a targeted individual) are necessary to keep Americans safe. But, since Congress first passed the PATRIOT Act almost 20 years ago, mass surveillance, warrantless wiretapping, and bulk data collection have not stopped a single terrorist attack.

The legislation does have “reforms” aimed at protecting civil liberties, but these new protections contain loopholes that render the protections meaningless. For example, the bill requires those targeted for surveillance to be notified that the government spied on them. However, this requirement can be waived if the government simply claims — not proves but just clams — that notifying the target would harm “national security.”

The notice provision also only applies to the target of an investigations. So, if you were caught up in a federal investigation because a coworker is being targeted and you shared an office computer, or if a store clerk reported to the government you and others bought pressure cookers, the government could collect your phone records, texts, and social media posts without giving you the chance to challenge the government’s actions.

The bill also makes some reforms to the special FISA court, which serves as a rubber stamp for the intelligence community. These reforms are mainly aimed at protecting political campaigns and candidates. They would not stop the FISA court from rubber-stamping surveillance on organizations that oppose the welfare-warfare-surveillance-fiat money status quo.

Anything limiting warrantless wiretapping and mass surveillance should be supported. However, nothing short of repeal of the USA FREEDOM Act will restore respect for our right to live our lives free of the fear that Big Brother is watching. The path to liberty, peace, and prosperity starts with eliminating all unconstitutional laws and returning to a system of limited government, free markets, individual liberty, sound money, and a foreign policy that seeks peaceful commerce and friendship with all instead of seeking new monsters to destroy.


Copyright © 2020 by RonPaul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.
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Edward Snowden’s Tweet That Exposed What Our TV’s Are Doing To Us – Collective Evolution

Posted by M. C. on March 2, 2020

TVision was co-founded by Dan Schiffman and one of his classmates from the Sloan School of Management at MIT. Through the installation of a Microsoft Kinect device, most often used for Xbox video games, on top of TVs, TVision tracks the movement of people’s eyes in relation to the TV. The device can then record even tiny shifts from everyone in the room, and then the company matches the movements to what they’re watching.

Samsung’s privacy policy in regards to the TV actually reads: “Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party.”

If it is connected to the net it is ratting on you.

https://www.collective-evolution.com/2020/02/29/edward-snowdens-tweet-that-exposed-what-our-tvs-are-doing-to-us/

In Brief

  • The Facts:TVision Insights was launched a few years ago, allowing companies to monitor TV watchers’ viewing habits. This means that they can watch you as you watch TV. The technology records where your eyes are looking, facial expressions and more.
  • Reflect On:What happened to privacy? How are these companies allowed to role out such technologies without the consent of the masses?

Years ago, Edward Snowden accomplished one of the most significant intelligence leaks in U.S. history, confirming to the world that the government really does spy on you. Two years later, Samsung casually warned the public that their Smart TVs could record their living room banter.

Now, even if you’re alone in a room, if that room contains a laptop, computer, or Smart TV, it’s possible that someone out there is listening to you, and even watching you. The worst part? You wouldn’t even know.

A technology called TVision Insights was launched a few years ago, allowing companies to monitor TV watchers’ viewing habits. This means that they can literally watch you as you watch TV, and the technology even records data on where your eyes are looking, when you’re distracted, and what emotions you’re conveying.

How TVision Insights Watches You Watch TV

I first came across the technology when Edward Snowden tweeted the following image on February 26, 2017.

17078151_1791722484176014_1670570206_n

As you can see, not only can the companies watch you watch TV, but the technology is intelligent enough to pick up on your facial expression, engagement level, and other significant data. This information has provided insight into not only what shows people watch the most or are the most engaged in, but what commercials they prefer to watch as well.

 

TVision was co-founded by Dan Schiffman and one of his classmates from the Sloan School of Management at MIT. Through the installation of a Microsoft Kinect device, most often used for Xbox video games, on top of TVs, TVision tracks the movement of people’s eyes in relation to the TV. The device can then record even tiny shifts from everyone in the room, and then the company matches the movements to what they’re watching.

The device’s sensors can record minute shifts in all of the people in the room. The company then matches those viewing patterns to shows and commercials using technology that listens to what is being broadcast on the TV.

Since the technology is still very new, it’s currently being voluntarily tested on 7,500 people in the Boston, Chicago, and Dallas-Fort Worth areas (source).

Obviously there are privacy concerns here. The company states that they aren’t storing any images or video footage, and it’s only a voluntary installation, at least for now. But we’ve already seen companies and the U.S. government abuse similar software to spy on us.

How can we guarantee this information won’t be publicized or sold to corporations or the government, since that’s already happened in the past? Where do we draw the line between wanting the latest technical gadgets and wanting to secure our privacy? Is it even possible to have both anymore?

Your TV Could Be Watching You Already

This isn’t the first example of surveillance through TVs, and it probably won’t be the last. In early 2015, Samsung released a statement warning customers that their Smart TVs were capable of listening to and recording conversations.

These TVs have voice recognition software, but this fancy piece of technology comes at a price, and that price is a complete and utter violation of privacy. Samsung actually warned its customers not to have important conversations or disclose personal information in front of their Smart TVs because the audio can be recorded and then transmitted to unidentified third parties.

Samsung’s privacy policy in regards to the TV actually reads: “Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party.”

You can read more about the Samsung controversy in our CE article here.

Vizio TVs were also found to record people, but the company had to pay $2.2 million to settle charges for collecting and selling footage from millions of TVs without the knowledge or consent of its viewers. This is a pretty fair settlement given the fact that they had sold 11 million of these smart TVs. One can only imagine how many people were directly affected by this.

The software, Smart Interactivity, was marketed as a feature that “enables program offers and suggestions” for users. However, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Vizio didn’t actually offer any of these programs or suggestions for more than two years after being sold. The FTC suit, which was filed alongside the Attorney General of New Jersey and the Director of the State’s Division of Consumer Affairs,  claimed that Vizio and its subsidiary, Inscape Services, sold data to third parties (source).

The data collected was able to show what programs and commercials people watched, and when. It could also measure the effectiveness of advertisements, as it would use the IP address attached to all of the internet-connected technological devices in your home to see if you recently searched for anything in regards to that commercial. For example, if you watched a McDonald’s commercial and then ordered McDonald’s on your phone, the software would pick up on that and confirm that the commercial was successful. The software can also do this in reverse, so if you see an ad online for a cool show and then you decide to watch it after, the software would pick up on that, too. The software could also target ads to people on their other devices, like phones or laptops, based on what they just watched on TV.

Although Vizio never publicly identified the companies they sold their data to, the FTC claimed that it included personal information like “sex, age, income, marital status, household size, education, homeownership and household value” (source).

How Do We Take Back Our Privacy?

If you own a Smart TV, don’t stress too much! There are ways to opt out of these features (although who knows if this is guaranteed, but it’s certainly worth a shot). Just do a quick Google search and you can find out how to opt out of Vizio and Samsung Smart TVs, if not more.

It’s well-known now that laptop cameras and microphones are easy targets for hackers, particularly if those hackers are U.S. government agencies, as they can be activated remotely (and you may not even know it because that little green light next to your camera won’t necessarily turn on).

The entire CE office tapes over their laptop cameras in order to prevent anyone from potentially spying on us. Even Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg tapes over his laptop camera and microphone as an easy defence against people spying on him. I encourage you to do the same!

The reality is that we live in a world where everything is recorded and privacy isn’t always a choice anymore. There are little things here and there that we can do to avoid being taped or listened to, but that seems to be getting more and more difficult. We live in a technologically driven world, so it’s crucial that we voice our opinions and fight for our privacy. Even if you feel like you don’t have anything to hide, you should still have the right to do so!

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Smart t.v.’s have secret cameras in them & are watching ...

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Snowden Warns Targeting of Greenwald and Assange Shows Governments ‘Ready to Stop the Presses—If They Can’ | Common Dreams News

Posted by M. C. on January 30, 2020

” Snowden wrote of Greenwald’s case that “as ridiculous as these charges are, they are also dangerous—and not only to Greenwald: They are a threat to press freedom everywhere. The legal theory used by the Brazilian prosecutors—that journalists who publish leaked documents are engaged in a criminal ‘conspiracy’ with the sources who provide those documents—is virtually identical to the one advanced in the Trump administration’s indictment of [Assange] in a new application of the historically dubious Espionage Act.”

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/01/27/snowden-warns-targeting-greenwald-and-assange-shows-governments-ready-stop-presses

In an op-ed published Sunday night by the Washington Post, National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden connected Brazilian federal prosecutors’ recent decision to file charges against American investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald to the U.S. government’s efforts to prosecute WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

“The most essential journalism of every era is precisely that which a government attempts to silence. These prosecutions demonstrate that they are ready to stop the presses—if they can.”
—Edward Snowden, NSA whistleblower

Snowden, board of directors president at Freedom of the Press Foundation, is among those who have spoken out since Greenwald was charged with cybercrime on Jan. 21. Reporters and human rights advocates have denounced the prosecution as “a straightforward attempt to intimidate and retaliate against Greenwald and The Intercept for their critical reporting” on officials in Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s government.

Greenwald, who is also on Freedom of the Press Foundation’s board, is one of the journalists to whom Snowden leaked classified materials in 2013.

As Common Dreams reported last week, the NSA whistleblower, who has lived with asylum protection in Russia for the past several years, is also among the political observers who have pointed out that although even some of Greenwald’s critics have rallied behind him in recent days, Assange has not experienced such solidarity. Assange is being held in a London prison, under conditions that have raised global alarm, while he fights against extradition to the United States.

In his Post op-ed, “Trump Has Created a Global Playbook to Attack Those Revealing Uncomfortable Truths,” Snowden wrote of Greenwald’s case that “as ridiculous as these charges are, they are also dangerous—and not only to Greenwald: They are a threat to press freedom everywhere. The legal theory used by the Brazilian prosecutors—that journalists who publish leaked documents are engaged in a criminal ‘conspiracy’ with the sources who provide those documents—is virtually identical to the one advanced in the Trump administration’s indictment of [Assange] in a new application of the historically dubious Espionage Act.”

Snowden—who said in December that he believes that if he returned to the United States, he’d spend his life in prison for exposing global mass surveillance practices of the U.S. government—explained:

In each case, the charges came as an about-face from an earlier position. The federal police in Brazil stated as recently as December that they had formally considered whether Greenwald could be said to have participated in a crime, and unequivocally found that he had not. That rather extraordinary admission itself followed an order in August 2019 from a Brazilian Supreme Court judge—prompted by displays of public aggression against Greenwald by Bolsonaro and his allies—explicitly barring federal police from investigating Greenwald altogether. The Supreme Court judge declared that doing so would “constitute an unambiguous act of censorship.”

For Assange, the Espionage Act charges arrived years after the same theory had reportedly been considered—and rejected—by the former president Barack Obama’s Justice Department. Though the Obama administration was no fan of WikiLeaks, the former spokesman for Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder later explained. “The problem the department has always had in investigating Julian Assange is there is no way to prosecute him for publishing information without the same theory being applied to journalists,” said the former Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller. “And if you are not going to prosecute journalists for publishing classified information, which the department is not, then there is no way to prosecute Assange.”

Although Obama’s administration was historically unfriendly to journalists and leakers of classified materials, President Donald Trump’s administration has taken things a step further with its indictment of Assange. “The Trump administration,” he wrote, “with its disdain for press freedom matched only by its ignorance of the law, has respected no such limitations on its ability to prosecute and persecute, and its unprecedented decision to indict a publisher under the Espionage Act has profoundly dangerous implications for national security journalists around the country.”

Highlighting another similarity between the cases of Greenwald and Assange—that “their relentless crusades have rendered them polarizing figures (including, it may be noted, to each other)”—Snowden suggested that perhaps “authorities in both countries believed the public’s fractured opinions of their perceived ideologies would distract the public from the broader danger these prosecutions pose to a free press.” However, he noted, civil liberties groups and publishers have recognized both cases as “efforts to deter the most aggressive investigations by the most fearless journalists, and to open the door to a precedent that could soon still the pens of even the less cantankerous.”

“The most essential journalism of every era is precisely that which a government attempts to silence,” Snowden concluded. “These prosecutions demonstrate that they are ready to stop the presses—if they can.”

Journalists and press freedom advocates have shared Snowden’s op-ed on social media since Sunday night.

Trevor Timm, executive director of Freedom of the Press Foundation, tweeted Monday morning that Snowden’s piece “should be read in tandem” with an op-ed published Sunday in the New York Times by James Risen, a former reporter for the newspaper who is now at The Intercept. Risen also argued that “the case against Mr. Greenwald is eerily similar to the Trump administration’s case against Mr. Assange.”

And, according to Risen, Greenwald concurred:

In an interview with me on Thursday, Mr. Greenwald agreed that there are parallels between his case and Mr. Assange’s, and added that he doesn’t believe that Mr. Bolsonaro would have taken action against an American journalist if he had thought President Trump would oppose it.

“Bolsonaro worships Trump, and the Bolsonaro government is taking the signal from Trump that this kind of behavior is acceptable,” he said.

Notably, Risen added, “the State Department has not issued any statement of concern about Brazil’s case against Mr. Greenwald, which in past administrations would have been common practice.”

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Snowden and Greenwald

American whistleblower Edward Snowden in a Hong Kong hotel room with journalist Glenn Greenwald in a scene from Laura Poitras’ documentary film Citizenfour. (Photo: Citizenfour/screenshot)

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We Were Warned About the Deep State, but Refused to Listen by Larry C Johnson – Sic Semper Tyrannis

Posted by M. C. on January 2, 2020

What has happened to Donald Trump can happen to any of us. It is time to take this threat seriously and put the intel agencies back into a properly monitored corral. Otherwise, we will lose this Republic.

https://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2019/12/we-were-warned-about-the-deep-state-but-refused-to-listen-by-larry-c-johnson.html

by Larry C Johnson

Larry Johnson-5x7

Many of the critical tools employed in the coup to paint Donald Trump as a tool of the Russians and to manufacture a pretext for removing him from office, were created more than twenty years ago. I am talking about the surveillance state that the American electorate has ignorantly accepted as necessary in order to keep us safe from terrorists. Despite previous warning from whistleblowers like Russ Tice, Bill Binney, Ed Loomis and Kird Wiebe, no action to rein in the surveillance monster was taken until Edward Snowden absconded with the documents exposing the vast amount spying that the U.S. Government is doing to its own citizens. But even those weak efforts to supposedly rein in the NSA proved to be nothing more than mere window dressing.

The spying got worse. Just ask Donald Trump and the members of his campaign that were targeted first by the CIA and NSA and then by the FBI. Fundamental civil rights were trampled.

The real irony in all of this is that Barack Obama, as President, took credit for helping revise the laws in order to prevent the spying exposed by Edward Snowden. But under the Obama Administration, spying on political opponents–both real and perceived–escalated. We know for a fact that journalists, such as James Rosen and Sheryl Atkinson, were targets and their communications and computers attacked by the U.S. Government.

We know, thanks to a memo released by Judge Rosemary Collyer, that “FBI consultants” were making illegal searches of NSA material using the names of Donald Trump, his family and members of his campaign staff.

Some of this NSA material came courtesy of the Brits and their collection on U.S. targets. Some of this material came from the NSA’s own collection and storage of all electronic communications and was obtained using a nifty NSA tool called XKEYSCORE. Listen to Ed Snowden’s description. Also, take time to appreciate the irony that CNN and other journalists were actually trying to report real news. Now they are full blown apologists for the abuse of the intelligence collection tools. 

Six years ago, former NSA Technical Director for Military and Geopolitical Issues, Bill Binney, and Russ Tice, a former NSA analyst, appeared on the PBS News Hour. Once again, they make very clear the enormous nature to the threat to our civil liberties.

Too bad Donald Trump did not listen to their warning.

Given the robust, wide ranging ability of the NSA to probe all communications by any person in the United States, it is remarkable that no real dirt on Donald Trump was ever uncovered. Had such information existed, it would be in the NSA’s storage vaults in Utah and crooked CIA analysts under Brennan’s direction would have found it and used it. But that did not happed. The best the intel folks could fabricate were the salacious claims attributed to reports ostensibly created by former British spy, Christopher Steele. Turns out that the titillating account that Trump hired hookers to perform coprophilia (could of been worse, coprophagia) was nothing more than idle bar talk.

What has happened to Donald Trump can happen to any of us. It is time to take this threat seriously and put the intel agencies back into a properly monitored corral. Otherwise, we will lose this Republic.

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Living in a World Bereft of Privacy – Consortiumnews

Posted by M. C. on December 8, 2019

This low-level and laughably amateur attempt at extortion is risible. Unfortunately, the threat from our governments spying on us all is not.

Even back then we knew that computers could be captured by adversaries and turned against you – keystroke loggers, remote recording via microphones, cameras switched on to watch you, and many other horrors.

Living in a World Bereft of Privacy

By Annie Machon
in Brussels
Special to Consortium News

A few days ago I first received a menacing email from someone calling herself Susana Peritz. She told me “she” had hacked my email, planted malware on my computer, and had then filmed me getting my jollies while watching “interesting” porn online. Her email had caught my attention because it mentioned in the subject line a very old password, attached to a very old email address I had not used for over a decade. The malware must have been planted on a defunct computer.

Putting aside the fact that I am far more concerned about GCHQ or the NSA hacking my computer (as should we all be), this did rather amuse me.

Apparently, I must pay this “Susana” $1000 via Bitcoin or, shock, have my alleged pleasures shared with my acquaintances. And just last night I received another courteous request for cash from someone calling themselves Jillie Abdulrazak, but the price has now been inflated to $3000.

Why am I not concerned? Well, I can safely say – hand on heart – that I have never watched online porn. But this got me thinking about how or why I could have been singled out for this mark of a blackmailer’s esteem, and that brings me on to some rather dark thoughts.

It is perfectly possible that a rare, unguarded moment of long-distance online love might have been captured (but by whom?). That would probably be over a decade ago and would certainly have been using the old email account which was attached to the particular password at the time.

However, even those memories have been denied me – I distinctly remember that I have been too paranoid for too long and have always covered the built-in computer camera lens. Anything that could possibly have been recorded could only be audio – a saucy phone call at most. There can be no video of my younger self, alas.

I have had good reason to be paranoid. In the late 1990s I supported my former partner and fellow MI5 intelligence officer, David Shalyer, in his whistleblower exploits to expose the crimes and incompetence of the UK spy agencies at the time. This resulted in us literally going on the run across Europe, living in hiding for a year in la France profonde, and another two years in exile in Paris before he voluntarily returned to the UK in 2000 to face the music and inevitably, under the terms of the UK’ draconian 1989 Official Secrets Act, being sent to prison for exposing the crimes of British spies.

From those years, knowing what we knew about the spies’ capabilities even then, the sense of being always potentially watched has never rubbed off.

The Bigger Picture

So, knowing absolutely that I have never watched any online porn and that I always keep my computer camera lens covered, “Susana” and “Jillie” can go whistle. You have tried to shake down the wrong paranoid ex-MI5 whistleblower, darlings. And my tech people are now hunting you.

Any possible audio could, I suppose, be spliced in some way to some dodgy video to make this the stuff of a blackmailer’s dreams. That, surely, will be easy to “forensicate” – and indeed I have other friends who can do this, at world class level.

Alternatively, the former love at the time could have recorded the audio for his own nefarious personal usage for some nebulous time in the future. And if that future is now, after he had shown himself a long time ago to be chronically dishonest, why do this in 2018 when we have been separated for years?

He may have possibly continued to used the old email account himself to watch vile material – he certainly had the password back then and perhaps he uses it to distance himself from his own porn habit (fapware, as the geeks call it)? If that is the case, he is even less honorable than I had considered him to be.

Or perhaps this is some type of dark LoveInt operation by the spooks, in some failed attempt to frighten or embarrass me?

But there is, of course, a bigger, more political picture.

Ever since I worked as an intelligence officer for MI5, before going on the run with Shayler during the whistleblowing years in the late 1990s, I have been painfully aware of the tech capabilities of the spies. Even back then we knew that computers could be captured by adversaries and turned against you – keystroke loggers, remote recording via microphones, cameras switched on to watch you, and many other horrors.

The whistleblowing of Edward Snowden back in 2013 has confirmed all this and more on an industrial, global scale – we are all potentially at risk of this particular invasion of our personal privacy. I have kept my computer and mobile camera lenses covered for all these years precisely because of this threat.

One specific Snowden disclosure, which has received little mainstream media traction, was a programme called OPTIC NERVE. This was a GCHQ program (funded by American money) that allowed the spooks to intercept in real time video conferencing calls. It turned out, horror, that 10 percent of them were of a salacious nature, and the spooks were shocked!

I have spoken about privacy and surveillance at conferences around the world and have many, many times had to debate the supposition that “if you are doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide.”

However, most people would like to keep their intimate relationships private. In this era of work travel and long distance relationships, more of us might well have intimate conversations and even video play via the internet. In an adult, consensual and mutually pleasurable context, we are doing nothing wrong and we have nothing to hide, but we surely don’t want the spooks to be watching us or listening in, any more than we would want the criminals capturing images and trying to shake us down for money.

This low-level and laughably amateur attempt at extortion is risible. Unfortunately, the threat from our governments spying on us all is not.

Annie Machon is a former intelligence officer in the UK’s domestic MI5 Security Service.

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Google Admits That ‘Others’ Can Access The Camera On Samsung & Android Smartphones – Collective Evolution

Posted by M. C. on November 29, 2019

You hear about this now because Edward Snowdon paid the price.

  • Tape the front facing camera on your device while you’re not using it.
  • You may want to put some sticky tac over the microphone when you’re not using it as well.
  • Turn off your phone when not in use.
  • Simply use your phone less, and when not on it, put it in a different room.
  • You may want to be extra cautious when changing, or plotting to overthrow your government.
  • You can actually buy nifty little sliding covers to block your camera for your phone and computer.

https://www.collective-evolution.com/2019/11/23/google-admits-that-people-could-access-the-camera-on-samsung-android-smartphones/

In Brief

  • The Facts:Hackers have successfully been able to access the front facing cameras on Google and Samsung phones without permission from the user and regardless of whether or not the phone was unlocked. They were able to take pictures and record video.
  • Reflect On:Why should you care? This is an outright invasion of our right to privacy. If we continue to willingly give up all our rights, soon we won’t have any left.

As handy as they are, our smartphones are literally portable tracking devices. Equipped with GPS technology, people can easily be located and for most android users a record of where they’ve been each day since they’ve had their fancy phones is stored online. If that’s not creepy enough, the microphones on our phones are also able to record our conversations because they are listening even when we don’t think they are. Finally, you know those handy front-facing cameras often used to capture the perfect selfie? Recently, researchers have revealed how this camera can be used to spy on users, who would have thought?

The security research team from Checkmarx has uncovered a major vulnerability that is affecting Google and Samsung smartphones and has a potential to impact the hundreds of millions of android users across the globe. Apparently it’s now fixed, but the researchers discovered a way for a hack attacker to take control of the front facing camera and remotely take photos, record video, listen in on your conversations and more. All happening silently in the background without your awareness.

And, although it’s important to note that the following is merely speculation, if hackers have the ability to do this, then you better believe that the NSA and other high level government agencies are able to do the same thing.  This isn’t something new, Edward Snowden, NSA whistleblower, and many others like him have talked about and have explained how our phones are actually used to spy on us.

What Did The Checkmarx Security Research Team Find?

Their research began on the Google camera app on the Pixel 2XL and Pixel3 smartphones, they found a few vulnerabilities which were initiated by allowing an attacker to remotely bypass user permissions. Apparently facial recognition, fingerprint and password security, are not as secure as we’ve been led to believe.

“Our team found a way of manipulating specific actions and intents,” Erez Yalon, director of security research at Checkmarx said, “making it possible for any application, without specific permissions, to control the Google Camera app. This same technique also applied to Samsung’s Camera app.”

Davey Winder, from Forbes.com explains how an attacker is able to exploit the Google Camera app vulnerabilities,

 

Checkmarx created a proof of concept (PoC) exploit by developing a malicious application, a weather app of the type that is perennially popular in the Google Play Store. This app didn’t require any special permissions other than basic storage access. By just requesting this single, commonplace permission, the app would be unlikely to set off user alarm bells. We are, after all, conditioned to question unnecessary and extensive permission requests rather than a single, common one. This app, however, was far from harmless. It came in two parts, the client app running on the smartphone and a command and control server that it connects to in order to do the bidding of the attacker. Once the app is installed and started, it would create a persistent connection to that command and control server and then sit and wait for instructions. Closing the app did not close that server connection. What instructions could be sent by the attacker, resulting in what actions?

I hope you are sitting down as it’s a lengthy and worrying list.

  • Take a photo using the smartphone camera and upload it to the command server.
  • Record video using the smartphone camera and upload it to the command server.
  • Wait for a voice call to start, by monitoring the smartphone proximity sensor to determine when the phone is held to the ear and record the audio from both sides of the conversation.
  • During those monitored calls, the attacker could also record video of the user at the same time as capturing audio.
  • Capture GPS tags from all photos taken and use these to locate the owner on a global map.
  • Access and copy stored photo and video information, as well as the images captured during an attack.
  • Operate stealthily by silencing the smartphone while taking photos and recording videos, so no camera shutter sounds to alert the user.
  • The photo and video recording activity could be initiated regardless of whether the smartphone was unlocked.”

Of course when Google was confronted about this alarming issue they seemed glad to hear about it so that they could fix the problem, telling Winder after he reached out,…

But, to each there own. Some steps you can take to protect your privacy,

  • Tape the front facing camera on your device while you’re not using it.
  • You may want to put some sticky tac over the microphone when you’re not using it as well.
  • Turn off your phone when not in use.
  • Simply use your phone less, and when not on it, put it in a different room.
  • You may want to be extra cautious when changing, or plotting to overthrow your government.
  • You can actually buy nifty little sliding covers to block your camera for your phone and computer.
  • Personally, I’ve been toying with the idea of going back to a good ol’ basic flip phone… not just for the security and privacy measures, but to avoid wasting so much time.

Be seeing you

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State Secrets and the National Security State | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on November 17, 2019

I’ve got a better idea: Let’s just dismantle America’s decades-long, nightmarish Cold War-era experiment with the totalitarian structure known as a national-security state and restore a limited-government republic to our land.

Jacob Hornberger is has thrown his hat in the Libertarian presidential candidate ring.

https://mises.org/wire/state-secrets-and-national-security-state

Inadvertently released federal documents reveal that U.S. officials have apparently secured a secret indictment against Julian Assange, the head of WikiLeaks who released secret information about the internal workings of the U.S. national-security establishment. In any nation whose government is founded on the concept of a national-security state, that is a cardinal sin, one akin to treason and meriting severe punishment.

Mind you, Assange isn’t being charged with lying or releasing false or fraudulent information about the U.S. national-security state. Everyone concedes that the WikiLeaks information was authentic. His “crime” was in disclosing to people the wrongdoing of the national-security establishment. No one is supposed to do that, even if the information is true and correct.

It’s the same with Edward Snowden, the American contractor with the CIA and the NSA who is now relegated to living in Russia. If Snowden returns home, he faces federal criminal prosecution, conviction, and incarceration for disclosing secrets of the U.S. national-security establishment. Again, his “crime” is disclosing the truth about the internal workings of the national-security establishment, not disseminating false information.

Such secrecy and the severe punishment for people who disclose the secrets to the public were among the things that came with the conversion of the federal government to a national-security state.

Recall that when the U.S. government was called into existence by the Constitution, it was a type of governmental structure known as a limited-government republic. Under that type of governmental structure, the federal government’s powers were extremely limited. The only powers that federal officials could lawfully exercise were those few that were enumerated in the Constitution itself.

Under the republic form of government, there was no enormous permanent military establishment, no CIA, and no NSA, which are the three components of America’s national-security state. That last thing Americans wanted was that type of government. In fact, if Americans had been told that the Constitution was going to bring into existence a national-security state, they never would have approved the deal and would have continued operating under the Articles of Confederation, a type of governmental system where the federal government’s powers were so few that it didn’t even have the power to tax.

Under the republic, governmental operations were transparent. There was no such thing as “state secrets” or “national security.” Except for the periodic backroom deals in which politicians would make deals, things generally were open and above-board for people to see and make judgments on.

That all changed when the federal government was converted from a limited-government republic to a national-security state after World War II. Suddenly, the federal government was vested with omnipotent powers, so long as they were being exercised by the Pentagon, the CIA, or the NSA in the name of “national security.”

Interestingly enough, the conversion of the federal government to a national-security state was not done through constitutional amendment. Nonetheless, the federal judiciary has long upheld or simply deferred to the exercise of omnipotent powers by the national-security establishment.

An implicit part of the conversion was that the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA would be free to exercise their omnipotent powers in secret. Secrecy has always been a core element in any government that is structured as a national-security state, especially when it involves dark, immoral, and nefarious powers that are being exercised for the sake of “national security.”

One action that oftentimes requires the utmost in secrecy involves assassination, which is really nothing more than legalized murder. Not surprisingly, many national-security officials want to keep their role in state-sponsored murder secret. Another example is coups initiated in foreign countries. U.S. officials bend over backwards to hide their role in such regime-change operations. And then there are the surveillance schemes whereby citizens are foreigners are spied up and monitored. Kidnapping, indefinite detention, and torture are still more examples.

Of course, these are the types of things that we ordinarily identify with totalitarian regimes. The reason for that is that a national-security state governmental system is inherent to totalitarian regimes. For example, the Nazi government, which was a national-security state too, had an enormous permanent military establishment and a Gestapo, which wielded the powers of assassination, indefinite detention, torture, and secret surveillance. And not surprisingly, to disclose the secrets of German’s national-security state involved severe punishment.

But it’s not just Nazi Germany. There are many other examples of totalitarian regimes that are based on the concept of national security and structured as a national-security state. Chile under Pinochet. The Soviet Union. Communist China. North Korea. Vietnam. Egypt. Pakistan. Iraq. Afghanistan. Saudi Arabia. Turkey, Myanmar. And the United States. The list goes on and on.

And every one of those totalitarian regimes has a state-secrets doctrine, the same doctrine that the Pentagon, CIA, and NSA have.

A newspaper in Vietnam, which of course is ruled by a communist regime, reported that a Vietnamese citizen named Phan Van Anh Vu was sentenced to 9 years in prison for “deliberately disclosing state secrets.”

A website for the Committee to Protect Journalists reported that the Chinese communist regime charged a Chinese journalist named Yang Xiuqiong with “illegally providing state secrets overseas.” The Chinese Reds have also charged a prominent environmental activist named Liu Shu with “revealing state secrets related to China’s counterespionage work.”

The military dictatorship in Myanmar convicted two Reuters reporters for violating the country’s law that prohibits the gathering of secret documents to help an enemy.

RT reports that the Russian military will “launch obligatory courses on the protection of state secrets starting next year.

US News reports that the regime in Turkey is seeking the extradition from Germany of Turkish journalist Can Dunbar, who was convicted of revealing state secrets.

Defenders of Assange and Snowden and other revealers of secrets of the U.S. national security state point to the principles of freedom of speech and freedom of the press to justify their disclosures.

I’ve got a better idea: Let’s just dismantle America’s decades-long, nightmarish Cold War-era experiment with the totalitarian structure known as a national-security state and restore a limited-government republic to our land.

Originally published by the Future of Freedom Foundation.

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

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The Realist Report: (Israeli trained) Police State in America

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Edward Snowden on the Joe Rogan Podcast – Says US Government Could Have Prevented 9/11

Posted by M. C. on October 25, 2019

https://www.wakingtimes.com/2019/10/23/edward-snowden-on-the-joe-rogan-podcast-says-us-government-could-have-prevented-9-11/

Vic Bishop

ince 2013 the real government whistleblower, Edward Snowden, has been in political asylum in Russia, where he continues to write books and tell his story of how as an employee of the NSA he discovered that the government was breaking the law in constructing a massive surveillance state. Today, the surveillance is such a ubiquitous par of our lives, that people have come to see it as a normal part of everyday life, and hardly any politician bothers to work against it. It’s here to stay, sadly.

Recently, Snowden published a book entitled Permanent Record, which was immediately attacked by the US government, prompting them to sue Snowden for all of the profits related to the book. The government does not want you to hear his message. Ironically, though, Permanent Record became an instant bestseller, and Snowden’s popularity has only increased in recent years.

In a newly released podcast by Joe Rogan, Snowden calls in from Russia, talking about his understanding of how corruption from within has led the permanent establishment of the massive and highly profitable surveillance state which has filled the coffers of defense contractors and corrupt politicians. Snowden discusses the fact that all three branches of the U.S government are corrupt and that for admirable government employees who witness government agencies breaking the law have no available channels to blow the whistle and get the truth out to the American people.

Interestingly, in the podcast Snowden also talks about his experience on 9/11 when he was working for a small business out of a house on Fort Meade near the DC metro area. He describes how the base, which is home to a vast portion of the U.S. Military’s intelligence apparatus, was immediately dispatched and the base cleared as soon as the events of the day began to unfold.

Snowden points out how strange this was, considering that all of the personnel on the base would have been more than willing to take the risk of being attacked in order to fulfill the duty they has all signed up for, that of protecting the American people. Snowden’s point here is that the intelligence agencies were essentially taken off-line at the most critical moment in the entire history of their existence.

So, why did the directors of these agencies send all of these resources home on 9/11?

Snowden continues…

“It says so much about the bureaucratic character of how the government works. The people who rise to the top of these governments. It’s about risk management for them. It’s about never being criticized for something…

 

Everybody wants to believe in conspiracy theories because it helps life make sense. It helps us believe that somebody is in control… that somebody is calling the shots, that these things all happen for a reason. There are real conspiracies… but when you look back at the 9/11 report and when you look back at the history of what actually happened, what we can prove. Not on what we can speculate on, but what are at least are the commonly agreed facts… it’s very clear to me, as someone who worked in the intelligence community… that these attacks could have been prevented.” ~Edward Snowden

He goes on to explain that the government’s excuse for not preventing the attacks was essentially due to the fact that the various intelligence agencies were unable to effectively share information, coordinate investigations, and work together. Snowden is implying that 9/11 was essentially allowed to happen so that the mass surveillance state, which is insanely profitable to certain people, could be created. And it has since been created.

Considering that the Patriot Act soon followed 9/11, and in the nearly two decades since, the massive warfare and surveillance state continues to balloon and spread its reach into American citizen’s lives and around the globe, Snowden’s assessment seems rather accurate.

The full interview is almost 3 hours long, and is posted in full here:

Read more articles by Vic Bishop.

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Without encryption, we will lose all privacy. This is our new battleground

Posted by M. C. on October 16, 2019

The US, UK and Australia are taking on Facebook in a bid to undermine the only method that protects our personal information

Edward Snowden is a US surveillance whistleblower

In every country of the world, the security of computers keeps the lights on, the shelves stocked, the dams closed, and transportation running. For more than half a decade, the vulnerability of our computers and computer networks has been ranked the number one risk in the US Intelligence Community’s Worldwide Threat Assessment – that’s higher than terrorism, higher than war. Your bank balance, the local hospital’s equipment, and the 2020 US presidential election, among many, many other things, all depend on computer safety.

And yet, in the midst of the greatest computer security crisis in history, the US government, along with the governments of the UK and Australia, is attempting to undermine the only method that currently exists for reliably protecting the world’s information: encryption. Should they succeed in their quest to undermine encryption, our public infrastructure and private lives will be rendered permanently unsafe.

In the simplest terms, encryption is a method of protecting information, the primary way to keep digital communications safe. Every email you write, every keyword you type into a search box – every embarrassing thing you do online – is transmitted across an increasingly hostile internet. Earlier this month the US, alongside the UK and Australia, called on Facebook to create a “backdoor”, or fatal flaw, into its encrypted messaging apps, which would allow anyone with the key to that backdoor unlimited access to private communications. So far, Facebook has resisted this.

If internet traffic is unencrypted, any government, company, or criminal that happens to notice it can – and, in fact, does – steal a copy of it, secretly recording your information for ever. If, however, you encrypt this traffic, your information cannot be read: only those who have a special decryption key can unlock it.

I know a little about this, because for a time I operated part of the US National Security Agency’s global system of mass surveillance. In June 2013 I worked with journalists to reveal that system to a scandalised world. Without encryption I could not have written the story of how it all happened – my book Permanent Record – and got the manuscript safely across borders that I myself can’t cross. More importantly, encryption helps everyone from reporters, dissidents, activists, NGO workers and whistleblowers, to doctors, lawyers and politicians, to do their work – not just in the world’s most dangerous and repressive countries, but in every single country.

When I came forward in 2013, the US government wasn’t just passively surveilling internet traffic as it crossed the network, but had also found ways to co-opt and, at times, infiltrate the internal networks of major American tech companies. At the time, only a small fraction of web traffic was encrypted: six years later, Facebook, Google and Apple have made encryption-by-default a central part of their products, with the result that today close to 80% of web traffic is encrypted. Even the former director of US national intelligence, James Clapper, credits the revelation of mass surveillance with significantly advancing the commercial adoption of encryption. The internet is more secure as a result. Too secure, in the opinion of some governments.

Donald Trump’s attorney general, William Barr, who authorised one of the earliest mass surveillance programmes without reviewing whether it was legal, is now signalling an intention to halt – or even roll back – the progress of the last six years. WhatsApp, the messaging service owned by Facebook, already uses end-to-end encryption (E2EE): in March the company announced its intention to incorporate E2EE into its other messaging apps – Facebook Messenger and Instagram – as well. Now Barr is launching a public campaign to prevent Facebook from climbing this next rung on the ladder of digital security. This began with an open letter co-signed by Barr, UK home secretary Priti Patel, Australia’s minister for home affairs and the US secretary of homeland security, demanding Facebook abandon its encryption proposals.

If Barr’s campaign is successful, the communications of billions will remain frozen in a state of permanent insecurity: users will be vulnerable by design. And those communications will be vulnerable not only to investigators in the US, UK and Australia, but also to the intelligence agencies of China, Russia and Saudi Arabia – not to mention hackers around the world.

End-to-end encrypted communication systems are designed so that messages can be read only by the sender and their intended recipients, even if the encrypted – meaning locked – messages themselves are stored by an untrusted third party, for example, a social media company such as Facebook.

The central improvement E2EE provides over older security systems is in ensuring the keys that unlock any given message are only ever stored on the specific devices at the end-points of a communication – for example the phones of the sender or receiver of the message – rather than the middlemen who own the various internet platforms enabling it. Since E2EE keys aren’t held by these intermediary service providers, they can no longer be stolen in the event of the massive corporate data breaches that are so common today, providing an essential security benefit. In short, E2EE enables companies such as Facebook, Google or Apple to protect their users from their scrutiny: by ensuring they no longer hold the keys to our most private conversations, these corporations become less of an all-seeing eye than a blindfolded courier.

It is striking that when a company as potentially dangerous as Facebook appears to be at least publicly willing to implement technology that makes users safer by limiting its own power, it is the US government that cries foul. This is because the government would suddenly become less able to treat Facebook as a convenient trove of private lives.

To justify its opposition to encryption, the US government has, as is traditional, invoked the spectre of the web’s darkest forces. Without total access to the complete history of every person’s activity on Facebook, the government claims it would be unable to investigate terrorists, drug dealers money launderers and the perpetrators of child abuse – bad actors who, in reality, prefer not to plan their crimes on public platforms, especially not on US-based ones that employ some of the most sophisticated automatic filters and reporting methods available.

The true explanation for why the US, UK and Australian governments want to do away with end-to-end encryption is less about public safety than it is about power: E2EE gives control to individuals and the devices they use to send, receive and encrypt communications, not to the companies and carriers that route them. This, then, would require government surveillance to become more targeted and methodical, rather than indiscriminate and universal.

What this shift jeopardises is strictly nations’ ability to spy on populations at mass scale, at least in a manner that requires little more than paperwork. By limiting the amount of personal records and intensely private communications held by companies, governments are returning to classic methods of investigation that are both effective and rights-respecting, in lieu of total surveillance. In this outcome we remain not only safe, but free.

Edward Snowden is former CIA officer and whistleblower, and author of Permanent Record. He is president of the board of directors of the Freedom of the Press Foundation

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Did Granny hear a CLICK?

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