Posts Tagged ‘Government spying’

National Security Agency (NSA) Director Michael Rogers testifies before a House (Select) Intelligence Committee hearing

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The head of the U.S. National Security Agency declined comment Monday on reports that the United States implants spyware for surveillance purposes, saying “we fully comply with the law.”

Navy Admiral Michael Rogers was responding to reports that the NSA had embedded spyware on computer hard drives on a vast scale and that it and its British counterpart had hacked into the world’s biggest manufacturer of cellphone SIM cards. He spoke at a forum sponsored by the New America think tank.

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – The U.S. National Security Agency has figured out how to hide spying software deep within hard drives made by Western Digital, Seagate, Toshiba and other top manufacturers, giving the agency the means to eavesdrop on the majority of the world’s computers, according to cyber researchers and former operatives.

That long-sought and closely guarded ability was part of a cluster of spying programs discovered by Kaspersky Lab, the Moscow-based security software maker that has exposed a series of Western cyberespionage operations.

Kaspersky said it found personal computers in 30 countries infected with one or more of the spying programs, with the most infections seen in Iran, followed by Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Mali, Syria, Yemen and Algeria. The targets included government and military institutions, telecommunication companies, banks, energy companies, nuclear researchers, media, and Islamic activists, Kaspersky said. (

The firm declined to publicly name the country behind the spying campaign, but said it was closely linked to Stuxnet, the NSA-led cyberweapon that was used to attack Iran’s uranium enrichment facility. The NSA is the agency responsible for gathering electronic intelligence on behalf of the United States.

A former NSA employee told Reuters that Kaspersky’s analysis was correct, and that people still in the intelligence agency valued these spying programs as highly as Stuxnet. Another former intelligence operative confirmed that the NSA had developed the prized technique of concealing spyware in hard drives, but said he did not know which spy efforts relied on it.

NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines declined to comment.

Kaspersky published the technical details of its research on Monday, which should help infected institutions detect the spying programs, some of which trace back as far as 2001. (

Big Brother Is Watching - Public Domain

The control freaks that run our government always seem to want to “regulate” things that they do not like.  And so it should be no surprise that there is a renewed push to regulate independent news websites.  Sites like the Drudge Report, and The Economic Collapse Blog have been a thorn in the side of the establishment for years.  You see, the truth is that approximately 90 percent of all news and entertainment in this country is controlled by just six giant media corporations.  That is why the news seems to be so similar no matter where you turn.  But in recent years the alternative media has exploded in popularity.  People are hungry for the truth, and an increasing number of Americans are waking up to the fact that they are not getting the truth from the corporate-controlled media.  But as the alternative media has grown, it was only going to be a matter of time before the establishment started cracking down on it.  At the moment it is just the FEC and the FCC, but surely this is just the beginning.  Our “Big Brother” government ultimately wants to control every area of our lives – and this especially applies to our ability to communicate freely with one another.

The Federal Election Commission is an example of a federal rule making body that has gotten wildly out of control.  Since just about anything that anyone says or does could potentially “influence an election”, it is not difficult for them to come up with excuses to regulate things that they do not like.

And on Wednesday, the FEC held a hearing on whether or not they should regulate political speech on blogs, websites and YouTube videos…

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is holding a hearing today to receive public feedback on whether it should create new rules regulating political speech, including political speech on the Internet that one commissioner warned could affect blogs, YouTube videos and even websites like the Drudge Report.

If you do not think that this could ever happen, you should consider what almost happened at the FEC last October

In October, then FEC Vice Chairwoman Ann M. Ravel promised that she would renew a push to regulate online political speech following a deadlocked commission vote that would have subjected political videos and blog posts to the reporting and disclosure requirements placed on political advertisers who broadcast on television. On Wednesday, she will begin to make good on that promise.

“Some of my colleagues seem to believe that the same political message that would require disclosure if run on television should be categorically exempt from the same requirements when placed in the Internet alone,” Ravel said in an October statement. “As a matter of policy, this simply does not make sense.”

“In the past, the Commission has specifically exempted certain types of Internet communications from campaign finance regulations,” she lamented. “In doing so, the Commission turned a blind eye to the Internet’s growing force in the political arena.”

As our nation continues to drift toward totalitarianism, it is only a matter of time before political speech on the Internet is regulated.  It is already happening in other countries all around the globe, and control freak politicians such as Ravel will just keep pushing until they get what they want.

The way that they are spinning it this time around is that they desperately need to do something “about money in politics”

Noting the 32,000 public comments that came into the FEC in advance of the hearing, Democratic Commissioner Ellen L. Weintraub said, “75 percent thought that we need to do more about money in politics, particularly in the area of disclosure. And I think that’s something that we can’t ignore.”

And it isn’t just a few control freak Democrats that want these changes.

The Brennan Center for Justice, the Campaign Legal Center, the League of Women Voters and Public Citizen were all expected to testify in favor of more government regulation on the Internet at the hearing.

Fortunately, other organizations are doing what they can to warn the general population.  For example, the following comes from the Electronic Frontier Foundation

Increased regulation of online speech is not only likely to chill participation in the public debate, but it may also threaten individual speakers’ privacy and right to post anonymously.  In so doing, it may undermine two goals of campaign finance reform: protecting freedom of political speech and expanding political participation.

As we stated in our joint comments to the FEC back in 2005 [pdf], “the Internet provides a counter-balance to the undue dominance that ‘big money’ has increasingly wielded over the political process in the past half-century.” We believe that heightened regulation of online political speech will hamper the Internet’s ability to level the playing field.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama and the FCC are using net neutrality as an excuse to impose lots of new regulations on Internet activity.

Ajit Pai is an FCC commissioner who is opposed to this plan.  He recently sent out a tweet holding what he calls “President Obama’s 332-page plan to regulate the Internet“…

President Obama's 332-page plan to regulate the InternetRead more @

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A federal judge expressed skepticism Friday about the constitutionality of the government’s no-fly list, suggesting that those who find themselves on it ought to be allowed a meaningful opportunity to clear their names.

As of now-there is no meaningful appeal for anyone placed on the no fly list,just like there’s no relief from weapons disability at the fed level for those who made a mistake 10,15,20,30years ago to get their second amendment rights restored-which should never have been taken away in most cases.

This case will hopefully be decided for the appellant,and the courts will stop this massive overreach by the federal government.

No way in hell is the no-fly list Constitutional-it’s a secret government list of “enemies”,in the past young children have been placed on the list,and the late Sen. Kennedy was placed on the list at one time.

The list is a clear violation of the fourth amendment-among the many other things that are wrong with the list.

Editor’s note; Over the last four weeks, reporter Rachael Van Horn has been doing research into why some local physicians offices and hospitals now include a question about gun ownership. The questions is included between questions related to health history. The question is generally asked, if it is asked at all, while the patient is in the exam room and typically by a nurse who is inputting health history information into the patient’s personal health information file or on a computer. It is not asked at all physicians offices here.

Van Horn has been searching for the origin of the question, why it is being asked and since this information is being collected and most times by physicians who care for Medicaid and Medicare patients, what is being done with the information once it is collected.

The story is protracted and will be a continuing series as more information becomes available. We want to offer readers some answers about just why this question is almost always now, routinely included on programs created by healthcare information software companies who market worldwide to healthcare facilities and physician’s offices.

By Rachael Van Horn

Staff Writer

Like many people over the last several weeks, Angela Squibb of Woodward caught a small case of the flu and when her symptoms didn’t subside, she went to the doctor.

“But what surprised me, was that while they were taking my medical history, right after they asked me if any of my family had a history of cancer, diabetes etc . . . then they asked me if I had guns in my home,” Squibb said.

According to Squibb, the question made her uncomfortable.

“I felt like if I refused to answer the question, they would just make the assumption I had guns and so I just said no. I felt it wasn’t any of their business and I didn’t see how it applied to me having a cold,” she said.

Two U.S. senators are questioning whether the FBI has granted itself too much leeway on when it can use decoy cellphone towers to scoop up data on the identities and locations of cellphone users. The lawmakers say the agency now says it doesn’t need a search warrant when gathering data about people milling around in public spaces.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the chairman and ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee respectively, have written a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Department of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson about the use of the surveillance technology called an IMSI catcher, though also referred to by the trade name “Stingray.”

Cell tower simulators work by mimicking the legitimate cell towers used by companies like Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint. They catch the signals emitted from cellphones and other mobile devices and extract insight into who owns the phone, his or her location, and other details. That’s a bit like someone setting up a big blue box, posting a United States Postal Service logo on the side, copying information from the letters fooled users deposit in it, and then soon after dumping the accumulated mail into a real mail box. No one need be the wiser.

The hitch of, course, is that spoofing the U.S. Postal Service would be illegal. What Leahy and Grassley are wondering is whether what the FBI is doing crosses a legal line.

What has particularly prompted their concerns, they say, is a meeting between their Senate staffs and the FBI. In that discussion, the agency representatives, they say, indicated that FBI policy requires obtaining a search warrant before using a cell-tower simulator to go after a target. But, say the senators, FBI officials revealed that along with the carve-outs for search warrants for cell-tower spoofing that follow regular law enforcement practice — where the public is in immediate danger or where it is a fugitive being tracked — the FBI has recently granted itself an exception for “cases in which the technology is used in public places or other locations at which the FBI deems there is no reasonable expectation of privacy.”

That would seem to suggest that the FBI has determined that simply making a call while walking down a city street is enough to free federal law enforcement from its internal restrictions on digging into your phone data. The senators have given the departments until Jan. 30 to respond. The FBI did not respond to a request for comment.

Read more @


Stingrays Go Mainstream

We’ve long worried about the government’s use of IMSI catchers or cell site simulators. Commonly known as a “Stingray” after a specific device manufactured by the Harris Corporation, IMSI catchers masquerade as a legitimate cell phone tower, tricking phones nearby to connect to the device in order to track a phone’s location in real time. We’re not just worried about how invasive these devices can be but also that the government has been less than forthright with judges about how and when they use IMSI catchers. This year the public learned just how desperately law enforcement wanted to keep details about Stingrays secret thanks to a flurry of public records act requests by news organizations across the country. The results are shocking. The public learned that Harris requires police departments sign a non-disclosure agreement promising not to reference Stingrays. Federal agencies like the US Department of Justice and the US Marshals Service have instructed local cities and police to keep details of Stingray surveillance secret, with the Marshals physically intervening in one instance to prevent information from becoming public. There have been repeated instances of police agencies across the country hiding their use of IMSI catchers from the judges entrusted to provide police oversight:

  • In Sarasota, Florida internal police emails revealed officers concealed their use of Stingrays from judges, having one officer withdraw a warrant affidavit that mentioned the use of an IMSI catcher, and describing a policy of referring to Stingrays as a “source” in official documents.
  • Judges in Tacoma, Washington signed more than 170 orders unknowingly authorizing Stingray use from 2009 to 2014 because police officers did not disclose the orders would be used to operate an IMSI catcher. Judges first learned they were approving IMSI catchers from local newspaper reporting.
  • In a robbery case in Baltimore, Maryland, prosecutors abandoned their use of Stingray evidence after a judge threatened to hold a police officer in contempt for refusing to testify about the device.
  • It’s not just local police. The Wall Street Journal reported on a secret US Marshals surveillance program that attaches IMSI catchers called “DRTboxes” to airplanes to track suspects, gathering data about scores of innocent people in the process. The report prompted a letter from US senators to the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security demanding more information.