GCHQ and European spy agencies worked together on mass surveillance The German, French, Spanish and Swedish intelligence services have all developed methods of mass surveillance of internet and phone traffic over the past five years in close partnership with Britain's GCHQ eavesdropping agency. The bulk monitoring is carried out through direct taps into fibre optic cables and the development of covert relationships with telecommunications companies. A loose but growing eavesdropping alliance has allowed intelligence agencies from one country to cultivate ties with corporations from another to facilitate the trawling of the web, according to GCHQ documents leaked by the former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.
GCHQ taps fibre-optic cables for secret access to world's communications Britain's spy agency GCHQ has secretly gained access to the network of cables which carry the world's phone calls and internet traffic and has started to process vast streams of sensitive personal information which it is sharing with its American partner, the National Security Agency (NSA). The sheer scale of the agency's ambition is reflected in the titles of its two principal components: Mastering the Internet and Global Telecoms Exploitation, aimed at scooping up as much online and telephone traffic as possible. This is all being carried out without any form of public acknowledgement or debate.
Interview with WikiLeaks Head Julian Assange SPIEGEL: Mr. Assange, WikiLeaks is back -- releasing documents proving United States surveillance of the French government, publishing Saudi diplomatic cables and posting evidence of the massive surveillance of the German government by US secret services. What are the reasons for this comeback? Assange: Yes, WikiLeaks has been publishing a lot of material in the last few months. We have been publishing right through, but sometimes it has been material which does not concern the West and the Western media -- documents about Syria, for example. But you have to consider that there was, and still is, a conflict with the United States government which started in earnest in 2010 after we began publishing a variety of classified US documents.
NSA files decoded: Edward Snowden's surveillance revelations explained Two factors opened the way for the rapid expansion of surveillance over the past decade: the fear of terrorism created by the 9/11 attacks and the digital revolution that led to an explosion in cell phone and internet use. But along with these technologies came an extension in the NSA’s reach few in the early 1990s could have imagined. Details that in the past might have remained private were suddenly there for the taking.
NSA collects millions of e-mail address books globally Rather than targeting individual users, the NSA is gathering contact lists in large numbers that amount to a sizable fraction of the world’s e-mail and instant messaging accounts. Analysis of that data enables the agency to search for hidden connections and to map relationships within a much smaller universe of foreign intelligence targets. During a single day last year, the NSA’s Special Source Operations branch collected 444,743 e-mail address books from Yahoo, 105,068 from Hotmail, 82,857 from Facebook, 33,697 from Gmail and 22,881 from unspecified other providers, according to an internal NSA PowerPoint presentation. Those figures, described as a typical daily intake in the document, correspond to a rate of more than 250 million a year.
Michigan 'Rape Insurance' Bill Passes Into Law Michigan lawmakers passed a controversial measure on Wednesday that will ban all insurance plans in the state from covering abortion unless the woman's life is in danger. The law, which takes effect in March, will force women and employers to purchase a separate abortion rider if they would like the procedure covered, even in cases of rape and incest. Supporters of the "Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act" argue that it allows people who are opposed to abortion to avoid paying into a plan that covers it. Opponents have nicknamed it the "rape insurance" initiative, because it would force some women to anticipate the possibility of being raped by purchasing the extra abortion insurance ahead of time. “This tells women who were raped … that they should have thought ahead and planned for it,” said Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing) during debates. “Make no mistake, this is anything but a citizens' initiative.
Edward Snowden on the accelerating pace of whistleblowing, and what it means for state secrecy / Boing Boing After Daniel Ellsberg's astonishingly courageous release of the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times, he waited 40 years to meet someone like Edward Snowden or Chelsea Manning, someone else inside who risked everything to expose the wrongdoing they had sworn to oppose. But Snowden only had to wait a matter of months before he learned of another leak of equal profundity: a still-anonymous insider leaked the details of the US government's secret drone assassination program in 2015, the full story of which is told in The Assassination Complex: Inside the Government's Secret Drone Warfare Program , a new book by Jeremy Scahill and his colleagues from The Intercept. Like so much of what Snowden writes, it's plainspoken, careful, and principled, a call to arms that can't be ignored. Here we see the double edge of our uniquely American brand of nationalism. We are raised to be exceptionalists, to think we are the better nation with the manifest destiny to rule.
The Snowden Leaks and the Public by Alan Rusbridger It is harder than you might think to destroy an Apple MacBook Pro according to British government standards. In a perfect world the officials who want to destroy such machines prefer them to be dropped into a kind of giant food mixer that reduces them to dust. Lacking such equipment, The Guardian purchased a power drill and angle grinder on July 20 this year and—under the watchful eyes of two state observers—ripped them into obsolescence. GCHQ tracks diplomats' hotel bookings to plant bugs, say leaked docs The latest Snowden leaks have revealed that Australia spies on the heads of state of its neighbours while the UK monitors luxury hotel bookings made by foreign diplomats, among other unsurprising revelations. Australian intelligence attempted to spy on phone calls made by the President of Indonesia, his wife and entourage while Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his ministers were targeted by the Australian Defence Signals Directorate, according to leaked NSA slides dated August 2009. One slide, entitled "IA Leadership Targets + Handsets", listing the president and the first lady as having Nokia E90-1s, with the vice-president Boediono favouring a BlackBerry Bold 9000, The Guardian reports. The slides suggest that call data records for the regional leader were harvested but that Australian spies (at least at that time) had failed in their intent of capturing the content of calls. The leaked slides are available via Cryptome.org here (PDF).
How the NSA and GCHQ Spied on OPEC Documents disclosed by whistleblower Edward Snowden reveal that both America's National Security Agency (NSA) and Britain's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) have infiltrated the computer network of the the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). In January 2008, the NSA department in charge of energy issues reported it had accomplished its mission. Intelligence information about individual petroleum-exporting countries had existed before then, but now the NSA had managed, for the first time, to infiltrate OPEC in its entirety. OPEC, founded in 1960, has its headquarters in a box-like building in Vienna. Its main objective is to control the global oil market, and to keep prices high. The 12 member states include Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Iran and Iraq.
Islamist Wave Is Driving Out Syria's Revolutionaries GAZIANTEP, Turkey -- A couple of months ago, Noureddine al-Abdo started feeling increasingly trapped inside his own house. A popular and well-known opposition activist and citizen journalist, al-Abdo once had free rein over the liberated countryside he called home, in Syria's northwestern Idlib province. "When the liberation happened, it was like a release -- we felt we were released," al-Abdo said recently. "The whole countryside of the north, from Homs to Aleppo to Bab al Hawa, I felt that it was mine." There, for more than two years, he worked tirelessly to bring news about Syria's northern region to the world. He reported regularly to international media outlets, sometimes venturing out with armed brigades of Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters.
Q&A: On the Untouchable 'Lords of Secrecy' Powerful, unaccountable, and operating far in the shadows, the Lords of Secrecy, as author Scott Horton calls them, are real, and they are in charge of our national security state. Horton, a lawyer, journalist and human rights advocate, makes the case in his book, Lords of Secrecy: The National Security Elite and America’s Stealth Foreign Policy, that because the public is allowed to know so little, it has effectively been cut out of national security decisionmaking. I had a chance to ask Horton some questions earlier this week. Here is an edited transcript: Who are the Lords of Secrecy? GCHQ Monitors Hotel Reservations to Track Diplomats When diplomats travel to international summits, consultations and negotiations on behalf of governments, they generally tend to spend the night at high-end hotels. When they check-in, in addition to a comfortable room, they sometimes get a very unique form of room service that they did not order: a thorough monitoring by the British Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ in short. Intelligence service documents from the archive of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden show that, for more than three years, GCHQ has had a system to automatically monitor hotel bookings of at least 350 upscale hotels around the world in order to target, search and analyze reservations to detect diplomats and government officials. The top secret program carries the codename "Royal Concierge," and has a logo showing a penguin wearing a crown, a purple cape and holding a wand. The penguin is apparently meant to symbolize the black and white uniform worn by staff at luxury hotels.
Twitter abuse: Why cyberbullies are targeting women 29 July 2013Last updated at 09:06 ET Women are growing more vocal about the abuse they experience online, say experts Does it matter whether this article was written by a man or a woman? The politically correct answer may be no, but for some readers it could be an important factor. The threats of sexual violence which Caroline Criado-Perez received online following her campaign for a woman to be featured on British bank notes has highlighted the prevalence of gender-based bullying across social media. Facebook was forced to change its policies in May after thousands complained about the posting of material which portrayed violence against women in a positive way on the site.