US intelligence chiefs have confirmed that the National Security Agency has used a “back door” in surveillance law to perform warrantless searches on Americans’ communications.
The NSA’s collection programs are ostensibly targeted at foreigners, but in August the Guardian revealed a secret rule change allowing NSA analysts to search for Americans’ details within the databases.
Now, in a letter to Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat on the intelligence committee, the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, has confirmed for the first time the use of this legal authority to search for data related to “US persons”.
“There have been queries, using US person identifiers, of communications lawfully acquired to obtain foreign intelligence targeting non-US persons reasonably believed to be located outside the United States,” Clapper wrote in the letter, which has been obtained by the Guardian.
“These queries were performed pursuant to minimization procedures approved by the Fisa court and consistent with the statute and the fourth amendment.”
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______________________________________________________________________________________Tools for Lawyers Worried That NSA Is Eavesdropping On Their Confidential Conversations
The ABA Journal reports:
Are you concerned that Big Brother (including the National Security Agency) is not only watching, but listening, recording and even transcribing your confidential client conversations?
The good news for lawyers worried about maintaining their duty of confidentiality is that there are tools and safeguards to help them. In a session entitled “N.S.A.y What? Firm and Client Data Security & Encryption in the Age of Monitoring” held at ABA Techshow on Friday, Sensei Enterprises vice president John Simek and Oracle Corporation’s Chris Ries provided tips on gadgets and best practices for lawyers to use if they wish to avoid the NSA’s massive net.
“Lawyers need to be very cognizant of their communications being intercepted by NSA,” said Simek. Even worse for lawyers is that they can’t even be certain what the law is, since the status of the NSA’s various programs and the data they collect seems to change every day. Plus, given the secretive nature of the NSA, as well as the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that oversees its surveillance warrants, lawyers can’t even be sure of what is and what is not legal.
As such, Ries and Simek said lawyers should assume all of their conversations are subject to NSA surveillance and take steps to protect confidential information. To begin with, they recommended that all emails, electronic messages and communications be encrypted. There’s no shortage of available encryption hardware and software, and they recommended lawyers use an encryption service such as Zix Corporation’s ZixCorp or the open-sourced TrueCrypt. Platform-specific devices are also available, such as Microsoft’s BitLocker to Go and Apple’s FileVault. Lawyers can also purchase encrypted hard drives, including Symantec Corporation’s PGP Whole Disk Encryption and Sophos Ltd.’s Safeguard, as well as encrypted flash drives such as IronKey from Imation Corp.
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