Tag Archives: NSA

Assange circa 2007: NSA is funding academia

In a post over 6 years ago, Assange claimed to have found a link between the NSA and academia.

“During my investigation I discovered that many of the NSA’s research funding covers were essentially transparent. U.S intelligence agencies, in finding the ideological playing field to themselves, have little need of complex funding concealment. Efforts to hide the true source of intelligence derived academic funding are now minimal. Research funding cover names, at least for the NSA, are not directed at counter-intelligence, they are shields against cursory third-party social opprobium and apparently largely voluntary. I will mention a specific example” wrote Assange.

The NSA it appears, made no attempt at concealing their identity when distributing grants. Assange specifically pointed out an NSA grant-code prefix, MDA904, that could be used to identify research funded by the NSA. Several papers such as “Video Grammar for Locating People” and “Finding Person X: Correlating Names with Visual Appearances” were given as examples by Assange. Additionally, a paper from 2012 we discovered from Google Scholar writes on the footer, “Both authors were partially supported by NSA grant MDA 904-91-H-0055″.

Many of the papers, despite their esoteric nature, have direct applications to the surveillance programs conducted by the NSA. It’s easy to understand from the abstract of one of the papers that “a comprehensive approach for finding specific persons in broadcast news videos by exploring various clues such as names occurred in the transcript, face information, anchor scenes, and most importantly, the timing pattern between names and people” can be useful for the NSA.

The fact that many scholars willingly pursued research that had profound negative consequences for the rest of the world reflects a growing philosophy of growth and technological advancement without proper evaluation of the social implications. If the greatest minds in our society continue to fuel the advancement of the NSA efforts, expect the practices from the NSA to grow in sophistication and scale.

For more information, visit Assange’s post from 2007 here.

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Anti-NSA Stop Watching Us rally attracts thousands

This past Saturday thousands of protesters rallied in Washington in front of the Capitol Reflecting Pool to voice their displeasure with the mass surveillance programs orchestrated by the NSA. The main goal of the rally was to push Congress to reform “…Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, the state secrets privilege, and the FISA Amendments Act to make clear that blanket surveillance of the Internet activity and phone records of any person residing in the U.S. is prohibited by law and that violations can be reviewed in adversarial proceedings before a public court;” (source)

October 26th marked the 12-year anniversary that the Patriot Act was signed. The rally was organized by StopWatching.us, a group of over 100 organizations and companies that are pushing U.S Congress for increased accountability and reform. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, Mozilla, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Libertarian Party are some of the organizations that are a part of the coalition.

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For more information about the rally, you can visit the Stop Watching Us website here.

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Free Snowden website launches to help him cover legal costs

The Free Snowden website launched today to help the whistleblower cover his legal costs. The Journalistic Source Protection Defence Fund trustees commissioned the website which provides a plethora of detail about Snowden’s revelations, threats from the US government, and his arduous journey to finally reaching asylum in Russia.

We’ve covered the Snowden debacle closely when it broke back in June (see here). Snowden handed over documents to Glenn Grunwald, at the time journalist for The Guardian who recently left to pursue a “once in a lifetime opportunity”. Snowden’s documents revealed  warantless mass surveillance from the US, UK, Israel, and Germany on both domestic and international citizens – including organizations such as the UN and and EU.

Snowden is currently residing in Russia with Wikileaks reporter Sarah Harrisson, where he was granted a year-long asylum which is to end on July 31, 2014.

For more information and to donate, visit the Free Snowden website.

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Lavabit temporarily reopens for 72 hours

Encrypted e-mail service Lavabit, which closed down over 2 months ago, is reopening its services temporarily until Thursday. The founder of Lavabit, Ladar Levison, is giving his customers 72 hours to access their accounts before it shuts down permanently. Levison was able  to acquire a new SSL key to ensure data going to and from the site remains encrypted.

In a statement on Rally.org, Levison writes, “To begin this process, the user will first be allowed to change their password during a 72 hour period, beginning tonight at 7:00 PM Central. This step was created due to recent events in the news that have lead people to believe that their account information may have been compromised. If users are indeed concerned that their account information has been compromised, this will allow them to change their account password on a website with a newly secured SSL key. Following the 72 hour period, Thursday, October 17th, the website will then allow users to access email archives and their personal account data so that it may be preserved by the user.”

Lavabit was used by Edward Snowden to leak the NSA scandal and was coerced by the US government to terminate its operations back in August.

via Guardian

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Australian government briefed on PRISM prior to leaks from Snowden

The Australian Attorney’s General Department prepared a censored brief to then attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, two months prior to the leaks from Edward Snowden.

Snowden released slides in June revealing that the NSA was collecting real-time data from major tech companies including Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and Facebook.  Australia’s foreign affairs minister at the time, Bob Carr, said that they would examine the implications of PRISM on the security and privacy of Australians.

No news has been reported on the new governments decision to implement the changes to the telecom security legislation proposed by the former government.

via zdnet

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