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Tag Archives: Domestic Surveillance
With the vote on reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act coming up on June 1, leave it to John Oliver to have the most thorough mainstream examination of govt surveillance and the implications of the USA [[PATRIOT Act]]. Plus he does a great interview *in Russia* with Edward Snowden (warning: Oliver is a little NSFW).
Thanks Rachel for posting about the Intercept‘s new report about NSA’s search engine of harvested data. I thought readers would be interested in this DemocracyNow interview with Ryan Gallagher, the Intercept reporter who wrote this story. A particularly chilling part of the interview was when Gallagher described how the Intercept is now off-limits for Federal employees. Very creepy.
According to Classified documents obtained by The Intercept’ s Ryan Gallagher, “The National Security Agency is secretly providing data to nearly two dozen U.S. government agencies with a “Google-like” search engine built to share more than 850 billion records about phone calls, emails, cellphone locations, and internet chats.”
The documents provide the first definitive evidence that the NSA has for years made massive amounts of surveillance data directly accessible to domestic law enforcement agencies. Planning documents for ICREACH, as the search engine is called, cite the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration as key participants.
ICREACH contains information on the private communications of foreigners and, it appears, millions of records on American citizens who have not been accused of any wrongdoing. Details about its existence are contained in the archive of materials provided to The Intercept by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden…
“The ICREACH team delivered the first-ever wholesale sharing of communications metadata within the U.S. Intelligence Community,” noted a top-secret memo dated December 2007. “This team began over two years ago with a basic concept compelled by the IC’s increasing need for communications metadata and NSA’s ability to collect, process and store vast amounts of communications metadata related to worldwide intelligence targets.”
The search tool was designed to be the largest system for internally sharing secret surveillance records in the United States, capable of handling two to five billion new records every day, including more than 30 different kinds of metadata on emails, phone calls, faxes, internet chats, and text messages, as well as location information collected from cellphones. Metadata reveals information about a communication—such as the “to” and “from” parts of an email, and the time and date it was sent, or the phone numbers someone called and when they called—but not the content of the message or audio of the call…
We’ve been following [[Edward Snowden]] since his first leaks of NSA documents. But wow, this is quite the chart that ProPublica has put together. It’s really something to see all of the leaks in this visual format. Thanks ProPublica!
This is a plot of the NSA programs revealed in the past year according to whether they are bulk or targeted, and whether the targets of surveillance are foreign or domestic. Most of the programs fall squarely into the agency’s stated mission of foreign surveillance, but some – particularly those that are both domestic and broad – sweeping – are more controversial.
“With mass collection of private data, whether library records or cellphone activity, the decision on privacy has been taken away from the individual. The potential harm comes from not knowing what has been collected or how it will be used.” Great quote from Kirsten Clark, our own Regional FDLP Librarian at the University of Minnesota. This is welcome movement to curb NSA’s constitutional abuses. Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) (who originally introduced the [[Patriot_Act|USA PATRIOT Act]]) has introduced H.R. 3361, the USA FREEDOM Act — whose unwieldy full title is “Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet-collection, and Online Monitoring Act.” On board are Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, as well as groups as diverse as the National Rifle Association (NRA), civil liberties groups such as the ACLU and the American Library Association. Let’s hope this broad support from Congress and civil rights groups bodes well for passage.
And for those of you who’d like to participate in this critical constitutional rights issue, there’s a new group for librarians and library staff recently created called the RadRef Anti-Surveillance Action Group. Contact the owner if you’d like to be added to the list.
The Minnesota Library Association, working with its national chapter in Washington, is backing House legislation from Wisconsin Republican James Sensenbrenner that would restrict NSA bulk data sweeps and lift the gag order that forces librarians and other potential targets to be quiet about the requests they receive.
The post 9/11 Patriot Act not only opened library computer logs and book borrowing records to federal agents, it also barred librarians from even acknowledging or talking about government data requests. The upshot is there is no way for the public to know if the NSA or the FBI have tapped such data in Minnesota.
To Clark, that uncertainty is contrary to the spirit of intellectual freedom and research, particularly in an educational setting: “It is the chilling effect that comes from citizens knowing their information-seeking habits might be monitored, which in turn has the potential to limit learning and the freedom to read,” said Clark, regional depository librarian at the University of Minnesota Libraries, where she also serves as interim director of the social sciences and professional programs.
Sensenbrenner’s USA Freedom Act would address librarians’ concerns by raising the legal standards used to justify dragnet-style collection of business records, including library logs and — not incidentally — gun registries and other types of commercial data.
That’s why Sensenbrenner’s bill has won the support of the National Rifle Association (NRA) as well as civil liberties groups such as the ACLU and the American Library Association.