By Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill. The National Security Agency has obtained direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other US internet giants, according to a top secret document obtained by the Guardian.
The NSA access is part of a previously undisclosed program called PRISM, which allows officials to collect material including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats, the document says.
The Guardian has verified the authenticity of the document, a 41-slide PowerPoint presentation – classified as top secret with no distribution to foreign allies – which was apparently used to train intelligence operatives on the capabilities of the program. The document claims “collection directly from the servers” of major US service providers.
Although the presentation claims the program is run with the assistance of the companies, all those who responded to a Guardian request for comment on Thursday denied knowledge of any such program.
In a statement, Google said: “Google cares deeply about the security of our users’ data. We disclose user data to government in accordance with the law, and we review all such requests carefully. From time to time, people allege that we have created a government ‘back door’ into our systems, but Google does not have a back door for the government to access private user data.” Read more from this story HERE.
Documents: U.S. mining data from 9 leading Internet firms; companies deny knowledge
By Barton Gellman and Laura Poitras. The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track foreign targets, according to a top-secret document obtained by The Washington Post.
The program, code-named PRISM, has not been made public until now. It may be the first of its kind. The NSA prides itself on stealing secrets and breaking codes, and it is accustomed to corporate partnerships that help it divert data traffic or sidestep barriers. But there has never been a Google or Facebook before, and it is unlikely that there are richer troves of valuable intelligence than the ones in Silicon Valley.
Equally unusual is the way the NSA extracts what it wants, according to the document: “Collection directly from the servers of these U.S. Service Providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple.”
PRISM was launched from the ashes of President George W. Bush’s secret program of warrantless domestic surveillance in 2007, after news media disclosures, lawsuits and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court forced the president to look for new authority.
Congress obliged with the Protect America Act in 2007 and the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which immunized private companies that cooperated voluntarily with U.S. intelligence collection. PRISM recruited its first partner, Microsoft, and began six years of rapidly growing data collection beneath the surface of a roiling national debate on surveillance and privacy. Late last year, when critics in Congress sought changes in the FISA Amendments Act, the only lawmakers who knew about PRISM were bound by oaths of office to hold their tongues. Read more from this story HERE.
________________________________________________________Welcome to the Bush-Obama White House: They’re Spying on Us
By Ron Fournier. Welcome to the era of Bush-Obama, a 16-year span of U.S. history that will be remembered for an unprecedented erosion of civil liberties and a disregard for transparency. On the war against a tactic—terrorism—and its insidious fallout, the United States could have skipped the 2008 election.
It made little difference.
Despite his clear and popular promises to the contrary, President Obama has not shifted the balance between security and freedom to a more natural state—one not blinded by worst fears and tarred by power grabs. If anything, things have gotten worse.
*Killing civilians and U.S. citizens via drone.
*Seizing telephone records at the Associated Press in violation of Justice Department guidelines.
*Accusing a respected Fox News reporter of engaging in a conspiracy to commit treason for doing his job.
*Detaining terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay, despite promises to end the ill-considered Bush policy.
Even the IRS scandal, while not a matter of foreign policy, strikes at the heart of growing concerns among Americans that their privacy is government’s playpen. Read more from this story HERE.
NSA Whistleblowers: Spying Operation Has Been In Place For Years, Involves All Major U.S. Phone Companies
By Peter Svensson. Former employees of the National Security Agency say the publishing of a court order asking Verizon to hand over all its phone calling records for a three-month period opens a new window on an operation that has been in place for years and involves all major U.S. phone companies.
“NSA has been doing all this stuff all along, and it’s been all these companies, not just one” William Binney told news program Democracy Now on Thursday. “They’re just continuing the collection of this data on all U.S. citizens.”
Binney, who worked at the NSA for almost 40 years, left the agency after the attacks of 9/11 because he objected to the expansion of its surveillance of U.S. citizens.
British newspaper The Guardian late Wednesday released an order from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, requesting Verizon to give the NSA the details on every phone call on its landline and wireless networks on a daily basis between April 25 and July 19.
Binney estimates that the NSA collects records on 3 billion calls per day. Read more from this story HERE.
________________________________________________________U.S. Collects Vast Data Trove
By Siobhan Gorman, Evan Perez and Janet Hook. The National Security Agency’s monitoring of Americans includes customer records from the three major phone networks as well as emails and Web searches, and the agency also has cataloged credit-card transactions, said people familiar with the agency’s activities.
The disclosure this week of an order by a secret U.S. court for Verizon Communications Inc.’s VZ +3.46% phone records set off the latest public discussion of the program. But people familiar with the NSA’s operations said the initiative also encompasses phone-call data from AT&T Inc. T +1.56% and Sprint Nextel Corp., S +1.94% records from Internet-service providers and purchase information from credit-card providers.
The agency is using its secret access to the communications of millions of Americans to target possible terrorists, said people familiar with the effort.
The NSA’s efforts have become institutionalized—yet not so well known to the public—under laws passed in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Most members of Congress defended them Thursday as a way to root out terrorism, but civil-liberties groups decried the program. Read more from this story HERE.
NSA Whistleblowers’ startling claims: Records on 3 billion calls collected per day – and it’s not just VerizonBy Jason Howerton. The government knows who you’re calling.
Every day. Every call.
Former employees of the National Security Agency say the publishing of a court order asking Verizon to hand over all its phone calling records for a three-month period opens a new window on an operation that has been in place for years and involves all major U.S. phone companies.
“NSA has been doing all this stuff all along, and it’s been all these companies, not just one,” William Binney told news program Democracy Now on Thursday. “They’re just continuing the collection of this data on all U.S. citizens.”
Binney, who worked at the NSA for almost 40 years, left the agency after the attacks of 9/11 because he objected to the expansion of its surveillance of U.S. citizens. Read more from this story HERE.
Scope of phone records seizure causes alarm; data collection goes beyond Verizon
By Dave Boyer. The Obama administration on Thursday defended its secret seizure of the phone records of millions of U.S. citizens as part of counterterrorism efforts, while privacy advocates blasted the move as illegal and a debate erupted in Congress over the intended scope of a key surveillance law.
The revelation that the National Security Agency has been collecting phone records from Verizon Communications of all calls within the U.S. and to sources overseas raised accusations that President Obama is running a police state, in spite of his 2008 campaign promise to expand civil liberties while prosecuting the war on terror differently from his Republican predecessor.
On Thursday, the scope of the records seizure apparently expanded as former government officials familiar with the details of the domestic spying said more phone companies likely are involved and lawmakers said the court order is a routine three-month update of an ongoing program.
But a White House official said such domestic surveillance is a “critical tool in protecting the nation from terror threats.”
“It allows counterterrorism personnel to discover whether known or suspected terrorists have been in contact with other persons who may be engaged in terrorist activities, particularly people located inside the United States,” said White House deputy press secretary Joshua Earnest. Read more from this story HERE.