Senators rally around Feinstein, demand answers from CIA
March 12 2014 wired.com
In an impassioned Senate floor speech yesterday, the California Democrat accused the CIA of criminal activity for allegedly searching computers used by Senate staffers. The CIA set up the computers at a secure location in northern Virginia so Senate Intelligence Committee staff could access classified documents pertaining to the CIA’s detainee program. When some of them found an incriminating document the CIA hadn’t intended to release, the CIA started poking around.
“The CIA’s search may also have violated the Fourth Amendment, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, as well as Executive Order 12333, which prohibits the CIA from conducting domestic searches or surveillance,” Feinstein said during her speech. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), head of the Judiciary Committee, immediately followed up with, “I cannot think of any speech by any member by either party as important as the one the senator from California just gave.”
He called it “likely criminal conduct” on the intelligence agency’s part. And, like Feinstein, he suggested it was a breach of the separation of powers doctrine.
Feinstein’s statements criticizing the CIA have particular significance because she is perhaps the biggest senatorial cheerleader for domestic surveillance, including the telephone snooping program in which metadata from calls to, from and within the United States is forwarded in bulk to the National Security Agency without probable cause warrants. A federal judge declared such snooping unlawful last year but stayed the decision pending appeal. The case is before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Feinstein told NBC’s Meet the Press in January that “A lot of the privacy people, perhaps, don’t understand that we still occupy the role of the Great Satan,” Feinstein told NBC. “New bombs are being devised. New terrorists are emerging, new groups, actually, a new level of viciousness.”
For Alex Abdo, a staff attorney with the ACLU, Feinstein appears to be talking out of both sides of her mouth now that the tables appear to have turned.
“The particular irony is that one of the NSA’s staunchest defenders appears now to recognize the cost of unlawful surveillance.,” Abdo says.
Mark Jaycox, a staff attorney with the Electric Frontier Foundation, agrees. He also said the allegations by Feinstein “should serve as a catalyst for the senator to be concerned with the NSA’s spying on innocent Americans.”
Such spying was “wrong” and “so is spying on innocent Americans. The senator should take notice,” he writes in an e-mail.
Many, including Human Rights Watch, are using the flap to demand Congress declassify the results of the Senate’s torture investigation. And if the whole affair makes Feinstein a little more sympathetic to other targets of domestic intelligence spying, that wouldn’t be so bad, either.
NSA intercepts mostly were of Average Joes
By Barton Gellman, Julie Tate & Ashkan Soltani of THE WASHINGTON POST
Ordinary Internet users, American and non-American alike, far outnumber legally targeted foreigners in the communications intercepted by the National Security Agency from U.S. digital networks, according to a four-month investigation by The Washington Post.
Nine of 10 account holders found in a large cache of intercepted conversations, which former NSA contractor Edward Snowden provided to the Post, were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else.
Nearly half of the surveillance files contained names, e-mail addresses or other details that the NSA marked as belonging to U.S. citizens or residents. NSA analysts masked, or “minimized,” more than 65,000 such references to protect Americans’ privacy, but the Post found nearly 900 additional e-mail addresses, unmasked in the files, that could be strongly linked to U.S. citizens or residents.
There are discoveries of considerable intelligence value in the intercepted messages — and collateral harm to privacy.
Among the most valuable contents are fresh revelations about a secret overseas nuclear project, double-dealing by an ostensible ally, a military calamity that befell an unfriendly power, and the identities of aggressive intruders into U.S. computer networks.
For example, months of tracking communications across more than 50 alias accounts led directly to the 2011 capture in Abbottabad of Muhammad Tahir Shahzad, a Pakistan-based bomb builder, and Umar Patek, a suspect in a 2002 terrorist bombing on the Indonesian island of Bali.Many other files, described as useless by the analysts but nonetheless retained, have a startlingly intimate, even voyeuristic quality. They tell stories of love and heartbreak, illicit sexual liaisons, mental-health crises, political and religious conversions, financial anxieties and disappointed hopes. The daily lives of more than 10,000 account holders who were not targeted are catalogued and recorded.
The cache Snowden provided came from domestic NSA operations under broad authority granted by Congress.
The Post reviewed roughly 160,000 intercepted e-mail and instant-message conversations, some of them hundreds of pages long, and 7,900 documents taken from more than 11,000 online accounts.
Facebook’s Plan to Monopolize The Internet In India Should Be Defeated
Posted yesterday by Karl Mehta (@karlmehta) techcrunch.com
Despite rebranding its free Internet.org ‘walled garden’ of apps plan in India under the new name of “Free Basics,” Facebook remains in direct violation of an open Internet. Facebook’s first attempt with Indian carrier Airtel was rolled-back soon after its release in April thanks to huge public outrage on social media, ironically.
India’s prolific tech entrepreneur Vishal Gondal has posted his thoughts and has rightfully called it evil.
Facebook thinks that by adopting a seemingly innocuous name such as “Free Basics” and launching a massive advertisement campaign all over India (including daily full-page ads in newspapers and countless billboards), it can advance its Internet-splitting plan in the days leading up to the final decision from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).
Furthermore, Mark Zuckerberg has resorted to deceptive narratives to promote his efforts.
In this September 25th post, he presents how rural- and development friendly Internet.org and Free Basics are and suggesting the farmer couldn’t have benefited without their program.
However, the farmer in question has been on Facebook and the full Internet for at least 2 years before Internet.org was launched, where he could access a million times more information.
Here’s his page — active since 2013.
Facebook has never even advertised its own core product in India this heavily. Why would it spend this much cash on a “charity endeavor,” as they’re misleadingly framing it?
The primary mobile apps Facebook is pushing through “Free Basics” are their own, and all other apps, as innovative and helpful as they might be, would be subject to guidelines and an approval process created by Facebook.
In such a digitally emerging country like India, Facebook would essentially play gatekeeper, as millions of first-time Internet users on mobile would only experience a “Facebook version of the Internet.”
The competitive advantages for Facebook’s own apps and others it allows into “Free Basics” are so drastic that even Indian startups that Facebook has approached to bring onboard — and that would obviously benefit significantly from doing so — have declined in order to remain ethical and support a fair ecosystem, as Quartz has reported.
I’ve seen this “charity-with-hidden-agenda” model before in India, Africa, and other developing countries where politicians and international companies using non-profits as fronts to their commercial and political agenda to exploit the poor in the name of free goods and subsidies.
As Naveen Patnaik, Chief Minister of the Indian state Odisha, said: “If you dictate what the poor should get, you take away their rights to choose what they think is best for them.”
Let India’s poor choose what they want to use. Either open up “Free Basics” to every app and enforce a data cap, or just let the poor pay for the services themselves. Free market guru C.K. Prahalad showed the world in his seminal Gates-recommended book TheFortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid that the poor are viable customers.
My recent book, co-authored with Carol Realini, Financial Inclusion at theBottom of the Pyramid also contains dozens of examples of great innovations brought to the bottom of the pyramid at “radical affordability” without any need for preferential treatment given to one service over another.
And definitely not to the extent that one vendor dominates an entire region, thwarts innovation, and restricts consumer choice. Facebook is in critical need for its next one billion as its growth slows down in the United States, but stooping down to such desperate measures to gain market-share is unacceptable.
In Zuckerberg’s recent op-ed in Times of India, he asks, “who could possibly be against this?”
Nearly every Indian startup is against it including the very companies he is trying to recruit for “Free Basics,” dozens of Indian elected officials, the founder of the Internet Sir Tim Berners-Lee, and countless others in India and abroad in support of net neutrality have all voiced their concern against internet.org’s walled-garden.