Headlines of the day I: Spies, lies, drones, moans


After a brief lull, the flood of government and corporate snooping revelations is flowing again.

First, from CNN’s Security Clearance, the Supremes do just as we had expected:

Supreme Court allows NSA telephone surveillance to continue

The U.S. Supreme Court will allow the National Security Agency’s surveillance of domestic telephone communication records to continue for now.

The justices without comment Monday rejected an appeal from a privacy rights group, which claimed a secret federal court improperly authorized the government to collect the electronic records.

Meanwhile, Washington’s BFF is Germany is dancing to a delicate beat. From Deutsche Welle:

Merkel fronts Bundestag on NSA spying, Ukraine

Angela Merkel has said allegations over US spying in Germany have put the relationship between the two nations “to the test.” The German chancellor’s comments came as the Bundestag met to debate several telling issues.

And then there’s the second Deutsche Welle headline of the day:

Snowden letter raises new questions for Merkel

Chancellor Angela Merkel has received a letter from the man who revealed the US was listening in on her phone. Germany’s parliament is now discussing this latest twist in the National Security Agency spy scandal.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel can expect parliamentarians to ask uncomfortable questions at the special parliamentary session on the NSA affair on Monday (18.11.2013). Why, for one, is she not prepared to grant whistleblower Edward Snowden asylum in Germany? Why did she play down the National Security Agency (NSA)’s spying on the Internet and electronic communication for so long?

From Süddeutsche Zeitung, another story certain to raise anxieties about national sovereignty:

Foreign Customs: U.S. Supersedes Authority at German Airports, Seaports in Name of ‘War on Terror’

The U.S. agents appear without warning. Suddenly, they’re standing next to a flight attendant pointing someone out. That passenger shouldn’t be allowed to board the plane. Officially, these American border patrol agents are only supposed to give ‘advice’ about potentially dangerous passengers. In practice, though, they determine who can and can’t fly to the U.S.

Some good news for the corporate sector from PCWorld:

Skype, Microsoft cleared in Luxembourg NSA investigation

Luxembourg’s data protection authority cleared Microsoft and its subsidiary Skype of data protection violations related to the U.S. National Security Agency’s Prism spying program, the agency said Monday.

Meanwhile blowback in Asia continues over revelations of Aussie snooping, via Channel NewsAsia Singapore:

Indonesia recalls ambassador to Australia in spying row

Indonesia recalled its ambassador to Australia on Monday in a furious response to reports that Australian spy agencies tried to listen to the phone calls of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as well as his wife and ministers.

Whilst in Oz, other anxieties flourish. From The Guardian:

Australian MPs could be exposed to US surveillance, IT official concedes

Parliamentary security boss says no specific action taken to close Microsoft ‘back door’ following Prism revelations

Via Spiegel, the EU sends an advocate to Foggy Bottom:

Reding in Washington: EU Sends Tough Commissioner for NSA Talks

The EU is remaining firm with Washington over US spying, with officials in Brussels demanding better protection for Europeans. Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding is heading to Washington on Monday with a number of demands.

While in Germany, the University of Rostock has something for the man who caused it all. From TheLocal.de:

University seeks doctorate for Snowden

Whistleblower Edward Snowden may receive an honorary doctorate from a German university for his role in exposing the NSA spying scandal, after a dean praised his courage and civil disobedience.

And in the East, Elvis opines. From the South China Morning Post:

Former United States president Bill Clinton calls for openness on spying

Ex-president says countries should build on ‘skyscraper’ relationship

“China and America should commit to tell the whole truth of the listening we are doing to each other,” Clinton said at a forum organised by the financial magazine Caijing, adding the debate surrounding whistle-blower Edward Snowden at least had prompted everyone to start thinking about the balance between privacy and security.

Back home, USA TODAY covers another form of blowback:

NSA grapples with huge increase in records requests

The NSA will neither confirm nor deny that it has gathered information on anyone.

Süddeutsche Zeitung raises more German concerns:

Outsourcing intelligence sinks Germany further into U.S.’s pocket

When a private company is granted a government contract, it’s a stamp of approval. What about the flipside? What does it say when the government—say, the German government—does business with companies involved in abduction and torture? What does it say when German ministries share IT servicers with the CIA and the NSA? And what does it mean for Germany that those same agencies are involved in projects concerning top-secret material including ID cards, firearms registries and emails in the capitol?

And Techdirt digs up names previously censored involving the hacker who went to prison for hacking a security contractor — but not before he was duped into hacking other countries’ governments on behalf of the U.S.:

List Of Targets FBI Supposedly Asked Jeremy Hammond To Crack Revealed

from the that-didn’t-take-long dept

From The Guardian, private contractors aplenty:

Private firms selling mass surveillance systems around world, documents show

One Dubai-based firm offers DIY system similar to GCHQ’s Tempora programme, which taps fibre-optic cables

Private firms are selling spying tools and mass surveillance technologies to developing countries with promises that “off the shelf” equipment will allow them to covertly snoop on millions of emails, text messages and phone calls, according to a cache of documents published on Monday.

The database, created by Privacy International, is posted online and contains 330 firms specializing in the dark arts.

RT covers countermeasures:

Advanced system to guard Russia from hi-tech surveillance, drone attacks

Russia’s Defense Ministry has received the top-notch anti-radar system Krasukha-4. The system is designed to guard against aircraft-based electronic surveillance – including that carried out by drones.

While in Europe, the debate drones on. From EurActiv:

EU ministers discuss deployment of drones

European foreign and defence ministers will discuss how to deploy drones for civilian operations, ranging from disaster prevention to deterring human traffickers on the EU’s borders, in a two-day meeting that opens in Brussels today (18 November) .

Techdirt covers Washington’s criminal Kafka doctrine:

US Government Says CIA Black Site Prisoners’ Memory Of Their Own Torture Is Classified And Cannot Be Revealed

from the are-they-serious? dept

And in Israel, mum’s the word, report The Guardian:

Israel bars ex-agent from testifying in US lawsuit against Bank of China

Plaintiffs in long-running case that was instigated by Israel claim move is to protect economic ties with Beijing

Israel has barred a former security official from giving evidence in a landmark lawsuit in New York over the funding of terrorist organisations, in a move criticised as a capitulation to economic pressure from the Chinese government and a betrayal of US citizens caught up in Palestinian suicide bombings.

Salon covers more corporate countermeasures:

Yahoo to encrypt all data

In response to the NSA spying on digital content, the search giant is making its codes more difficult to crack

And USA TODAY reports on heightened awareness:

Snowden effect: Young people now care about privacy

Results of a Harris Poll released this morning show four out of five people have changed the privacy settings of their social media accounts, and most have made changes in the last six months.

From London, the Telegraph reports on Big Nanny:

Embarrassed husbands will have to discuss plans to watch online porn with their wives, says David Cameron

The Prime Minister says adults who want to watch porn online will have to ‘discuss’ it with their partner after mandatory filters are imposed by internet providers

The Guardian covers Chinese activism:

Activists say they have found way round Chinese internet censorship

Campaigners create ‘mirror sites’ to circumvent controls after Reuters and Wall Street journal websites are blocked

And PCWorld has the response:

China to tighten hold on Internet, citing worries about nation’s stability

China is moving to tighten its grip over social networking services even more, citing possible threats to stability.

Digital Trends covers hack attacks:

Anonymous using Adobe ColdFusion exploit to attack U.S. government

First the federal sign-up page for Obamacare falters. Now, it turns out that mysterious hacktivist group Anonymous has been penetrating U.S. government computers and networks for almost a year now.

The Mainichi has the attest in the legislataive push to complete the new anti-leaker state secrets legislation:

Japan needs powerful secrets monitor: U.S. information oversight director

Amid rising concerns over the Japanese government-sponsored state secrets bill being debated in the Diet, the head of a powerful U.S. office that scrutinizes the legitimacy of secret classification and declassification has told the Mainichi that Japan has much to gain from establishing a similarly powerful monitoring authority.

“The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration’s Information Security Oversight Office has the authority to go anywhere, and inspect anything. Because without that, without knowing that, ministries will not be forthcoming as they should be,” said John Fitzpatrick, the organization’s director.

And Network World covers another hack that exposed the personal info of investors:

Derivatives trading company struck by hackers

CME Group said the intrusion affected customers using its ClearPort clearing services

PCWorld covers another growth industry:

‘Arms dealers’ supply malware for cyberattacks, research says

Companies battling tireless cyberespionage campaigns may be up against well-organized attackers that are fed a steady stream of malware from a talented developer of cyber-arms.

And Network World finds worms in your Apples:

HP: 90% of Apple iOS mobile apps show security vulnerabilities

Testing of more than 2,000 mobile apps developed by corporations reveals serious flaws

From Techdirt, malicious prosecution:

Warner Bros. Admits To Issuing Bogus Takedowns; Gloats To Court How There’s Nothing Anyone Can Do About That

from the too-bad,-suckers dept

And for our final item, science turns to. . .well, just read the headline from Neuromarketing:

Ouija Board Neuromarketing

Every neuromarketing technique has one main purpose: get beneath consumers’ conscious reactions and see what they think subconsciously. While some neuromarketers employ high tech equipment like fMRI machines, a Canadian group says a simple device first used in 1890 may unlock our brain’s secrets. A team from the University of British Columbia’s Visual Cognition Lab thinks that, used properly, the Ouija Board can show what subjects are really thinking.

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