H/t reader kevin a.
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Just days after admitting that some 500 millions of its email accounts were hacked (allegedly Russians, of course), the Yahoo confessional continues as Reuters reports, somewhat stunningly that, Yahoo secretly built software to search all of its customers’ incoming emails for US intel officials. Yahoo’s reaction to this: we are “a law abiding company.”
Yahoo Inc last year secretly built a custom software program to search all of its customers’ incoming emails for specific information provided by U.S. intelligence officials, according to people familiar with the matter.
The company complied with a classified U.S. government directive, scanning hundreds of millions of Yahoo Mail accounts at the behest of the National Security Agency or FBI, said two former employees and a third person apprised of the events.
– IRS Deleted Backups Of 24,000 Lois Lerner Emails Months After Subpoena (ZeroHedge, June 25, 2015):
According to the IG’s deputy Timothy Camus, two “lower-graded” employees at the IRS center in Martinsburg, West Virginia, erased 422 computer backup tapes that contained as many as 24,000 emails to and from former IRS official Lois Lerner. It gets better: the tapes were erased in March 2014, months after congressional investigators requested all of Lerner’s emails, and months after Zero Hedge, among many others, said to simply track down the server back ups. And the punchline: according to George, the workers might be incompetent, a lead investigator said Thursday, but there is no evidence they were part of a criminal conspiracy to destroy evidence.
– First Hillary, Now Chuck Hagel: Former Secretary Of Defense Also Used Private Email (ZeroHedge, March 10, 2015):
For all the administration’s scaremongering about hackers hacking into every possible electronic source that is connected to the internet (and in the case of StuxNet, those that aren’t as Iran found out the hard way), it appears that the biggest culprit when it comes to lax communication security was the administration itself. And not just Hillary: moments ago NBC revealed that none other than former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, who as a reminder resigned in November following intense scapegoating by Obama who needed to a sacrificial calf following the disastrous midterm elections, also used a personal, non-supervised email address.
According to an NBC investigation, the White House emailed former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel at a private email address during his time in charge of the Pentagon, according to an investigation by the News-4 I-Team.
– Amid Probe, NY Governor Cuomo Orders Mass Deletion Of Government Emails (ZeroHedge, Feb 26, 2015):
In an Onion-esque story almosty too unbelievable to be real, IB Times reports, in a memo obtained by Capital New York, Cuomo officials announced that mass purging of email records is beginning across several state government agencies. The timing of the announcement, which followed through on a 2013 proposal, is worth noting: The large-scale destruction of state documents will be happening in the middle of a sprawling federal investigation of public corruption in Albany.
Many probably felt relief in thinking that such records are now often digitized and therefore not at risk of being accidentally incinerated. Yet as Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration is showing this week, many records are vulnerable to another form of destruction: deliberate deletion.
– State Department Hacked, Shuts Down Worldwide Email System (ZeroHedge, Nov 16, 2014):
As the G-20 meeting comes to a ‘successful’ end with back-patting congratulations having agreed to create $2 trillion more GDP out of thin air (or maybe hookers and blow), it appears that someone – or more than one – among these nations was less than diplomatic towards every nations’ best friend – America. As AP reports, The State Department has taken the unprecedented step of shutting down its entire unclassified email system as technicians repair possible damage from a suspected hacker attack. Earlier attacks have been blamed on Russian or Chinese attackers, although their origin has never been publicly confirmed.
– US judge rules Microsoft must handover personal data stored abroad (RT, Aug 31, 2014):
Microsoft has been told it must handover emails stored abroad to US prosecutors by a New York court. However, the software giant says it will fight the ruling, saying that an email deserves the same privacy protection as a paper letter sent by mail.
The company says they will not release any emails to US authorities, while it appeals the ruling, made by Chief Judge Loretta Preska of the US District Court in Manhattan. She said that Microsoft must hand over information, regardless of where it was stored.
– ‘Snooper’s charter’: UK govt pushes for access to social media (RT, June 26, 2014):
Britain’s Home Secretary is pushing for new spying powers to access social media and email accounts. Theresa May argues that it’s a “matter of life and death,” and has dismissed claims the government wants to spy on citizens.
The British Home Office is pushing for changes to the law that would radically expand powers to monitor citizens. The communications data bill, which has been branded ‘the snooper’s charter’ by opponents, would allow authorities access to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.
In addition, services like Facetime and Skype would also be accessible to the UK authorities.
Just ask the NSA:
June 20, 2014
– Lois Lerner Emails: Nothing Digital Ever Dies (Digital Journal, June 19, 2014):
In 2007, while co-writing a magazine piece with Silicon Valley author and entrepreneur Michael S. Malone on best Information Age practices for politicians, I coined a phrase Malone instantly dubbed “the Cannon Codicil.”
Postulating that electronic messages, like diamonds, last for forever, Cannon’s codicil simply holds that “Nothing digital ever dies.”
Although inspired by the water torture Democrats were then inflicting on Karl Rove over his missing Republican National Committee emails, mostly I was being metaphysical. But now, with the Internal Revenue Service claiming it has lost tens of thousands of emails from Lois Lerner and six of her IRS subordinates, the question in Washington is whether such a thing is technologically possible.
– Congressman Asks NSA To Restore Two Years Of “Lost” Lois Lerner IRS Emails (ZeroHedge, June 14, 2014):
Yesterday, the republican campaign to get to the bottom of IRS’ targeting of conservative groups was dealt an absolutely idiotic blow when the IRS, in all seriousness, announced that it had lost two years worth of emails to and from the chief subject of the investigation: former agency official Lois Lerner.
As House Ways and Means Commitee chairman Dave Camp said, “The fact that I am just learning about this, over a year into the investigation, is completely unacceptable and now calls into question the credibility of the IRS’s response to congressional inquiries,” he said in a statement. “There needs to be an immediate investigation and forensic audit by Department of Justice as well as the Inspector General.”
According to NRO, the agency informed Camp that a computer crash resulted in the loss of e-mails between January 2009 and April 2011 sent between Lerner and outside agencies such as the White House and the Department of Justice. “Those messages are particularly relevant given revelations earlier this week that the agency in 2010 transmitted a database to the FBI containing confidential taxpayer information, potentially in violation of federal law.”
– The Only Email System The NSA Can’t Access (Forbes, May 19, 2014):
When the NSA surveillance news broke last year it sent shockwaves through CERN, the particle physics laboratory in Switzerland. Andy Yen, a PhD student, took to the Young at CERN Facebook group with a simple message: “I am very concerned about the privacy issue, and I was wondering what I could do about it.”
There was a massive response, and of the 40 or so active in the discussion, six started meeting at CERN’s Restaurant Number 1, pooling their deep knowledge of computing and physics to found ProtonMail, a gmail-like email system which uses end-to-end encryption, making it impossible for outside parties to monitor.
Encrypted emails have actually been around since the 1980s, but they are extremely difficult to use. When Edward Snowden asked a reporter to use an end-to-end encrypted email to share details of the NSA surveillance program the reporter couldn’t get the system to work, says Yen.
– Eric Holder Admits That, If It Wanted, NSA Could Collect Internet Searches & Emails Just Like Phone Metadata (TechDirt, April 9, 2014):
During a recent House Judiciary Committee hearing concerning oversight, Rep. Zoe Lofgren decided to quiz Attorney General Eric Holder about the federal government’s surveillance efforts, starting off with a rather simple question. She notes that the bulk phone record collection program is considered to be legal by its supporters, based on Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows for the collection of “business records.” So, she wonders, is there any legal distinction between phone records and, say, internet searches or emails? In other words, does the DOJ believe that it would be perfectly legal for the US government to scoop up all your search records and emails without a warrant? Holder clearly does not want to answer the question, and first tries to answer a different question, concerning the bulk phone records program, and how the administration is supposedly committed to ending it. But eventually he’s forced to admit that there’s no legal distinction:
– Cyber attack that sent 750k malicious emails traced to hacked refrigerator, TVs and home routers (The Age/AFP, Jan 20, 2014):
Call it the attack of the zombie refrigerators.
Computer security researchers say they have discovered a large “botnet” which infected internet-connected home appliances and then delivered more than 750,000 malicious emails.
– How The NSA Spies On Your Google And Yahoo Accounts (ZeroHedge, Oct 30, 2013):
It’s quite simple really, and as the WaPo explains, the NSA “has secretly broken into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the world, according to documents obtained from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and interviews with knowledgeable officials. By tapping those links, the agency has positioned itself to collect at will from among hundreds of millions of user accounts, many of them belonging to Americans. The NSA does not keep everything it collects, but it keeps a lot.”
In a nutshell – 181,280,466 new records in 1 month:
– India Moves to Ban Gmail (Liberty Blitzkrieg, Aug 31, 2013):
The fallout from the Snowden revelations continue. While India has already been attempting to fight economic reality with import duties on gold in an desperate move to reduce buying, they are now also trying to take further control of their technology infrastructure. Although this may appear to be a good thing on the surface, perhaps it is merely a move to further consolidate their own domestic snooping powers, which we already know they are trying to do.
In the latest news, it is being reported that the government will soon ask its employees to stop using Google’s Gmail due to the presence of the company’s servers within the U.S.
More from The Times of India:
BANGALORE/NEW DELHI: The government will soon ask all its employees to stop using Google’s Gmail for official communication, a move intended to increase security ofconfidential government information after revelations of widespread cyberspying by the US.
A senior official in the ministry of communications and information technology said the government plans to send a formal notification to nearly 5 lakh employees barring them from email service providers such as Gmail that have their servers in the US, and instead asking them to stick to the official email service provided by India’s National Informatics Centre.
– GOOGLE: If You Send To Gmail, You Have ‘No Legitimate Expectation Of Privacy’ (San Francisco Chronicle, Aug 13, 2013):
If you happen to send an email to one of the 400 million people who use Google’s Gmail service, you shouldn’t have any expectation of privacy, according to a court briefing obtained by the Consumer Watchdog website.
In a motion filed last month by Google to have a class action complaint dismissed, Google’s lawyers reference a 1979 ruling, holding that people who turn over information to third parties shouldn’t expect that information to remain private.
From the filing (emphasis added):
– NSA loophole allows warrantless search for US citizens’ emails and phone calls (Guardian, Aug 9, 2013):
The National Security Agency has a secret backdoor into its vast databases under a legal authority enabling it to search for US citizens’ email and phone calls without a warrant, according to a top-secret document passed to the Guardian by Edward Snowden.
The previously undisclosed rule change allows NSA operatives to hunt for individual Americans’ communications using their name or other identifying information. Senator Ron Wyden told the Guardian that the law provides the NSA with a loophole potentially allowing “warrantless searches for the phone calls or emails of law-abiding Americans”.
– Snowden’s Email Service Provider Shuts Down Following Government Pressure (ZeroHedge, Aug 8, 2013):
Secure and free web-based email service provider Lavabit shut down today. What makes Lavabit different from countless other email providers who have shuttered over the years is that according to BoingBoing, Lavabit is the email service supposedly used by Edward Snowden. Which would explain the nebulous tone in the farewell letter posted on the company’s front page by owner Ladar Levison. It also explains why Lavabit was shut down by the US government, although that was mostly inferred from the letter which due to legal limitations does not expound on the official reasons for the shut down – one can imagine. It certainly explains the following punchline in Levison’s letter: “This experience has taught me one very important lesson: without congressional action or a strong judicial precedent, I would _strongly_ recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States.“We wholeheartedly agree.
Lavabit’s farewell letter:
My Fellow Users,
I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit. After significant soul searching, I have decided to suspend operations. I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot. I feel you deserve to know what’s going on–the first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise. As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests.
– Battle Royale on Piers Morgan: Glenn Greenwald, James Risen and Jeffrey Toobin (Liberty Blitzkrieg, Aug 3, 2013):
“That’s the thing I don’t understand about the climate in Washington these days. People want to have debates on television and elsewhere, but then you want to throw the people that start the debates in jail.”
– James Risen, New York Times Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist (he now faces jail time)
The above quote occurred during an excellent discussion between Glenn Greenwald, James Risen and Jeffrey Toobin on Piers Morgan’s show. While pretty much everyone on planet earth knows who Glenn Greenwald is at this point, most people do not know who James Risen is. This is a situation that must change. Mr. Risen is at the center of another very important case that threatens the future of freedom of the press in these United States.
In his book State of War, James Risen published information leaked to him by former CIA agent Jeffrey Sterling, who is currently being charged under the Espionage Act by President Transparency, Barrack Obama. While a lower court had previously ruled Mr. Risen should be afforded reporter privilege to not testify against Mr. Sterling, a federal appeals court last month saw it differently in a 2-1 decision.
– BT and Vodafone among telecoms companies passing details to GCHQ (Guardian, Aug 2, 2013):
Some of the world’s leading telecoms firms, including BT and Vodafone, are secretly collaborating with Britain’s spy agency GCHQ, and are passing on details of their customers’ phone calls, email messages and Facebook entries, documents leaked by the whistleblower Edward Snowden show.
BT, Vodafone Cable, and the American firm Verizon Business – together with four other smaller providers – have given GCHQ secret unlimited access to their network of undersea cables. The cables carry much of the world’s phone calls and internet traffic.
– The NSA IS Reading Your E-mails (The New American, July 31, 2013):
The London Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald revealed in a July 31 exposé that the NSA has indeed been collecting the full text of every American’s e-mails without a warrant under the “XKeyscore” program, flatly contradicting the claims of congressional opponents of the Amash amendment last week.
The Amash amendment would have denied the NSA the ability to snoop on Americans without a warrant or National Security letter under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. The amendment by Michigan congressman Justin Amash failed by a mere seven-vote margin in the House of Representatives. In the wake of the vote, Amash has promised to sponsor legislation to ban the NSA from collecting telephone and Internet data on American citizens.
Using NSA PowerPoint presentations provided by whistleblower and former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, Greenwald explained: “One presentation claims the [XKeyscore] program covers ‘nearly everything a typical user does on the internet,’ including the content of emails, websites visited and searches, as well as their metadata.” Greenwald added: “Analysts can also use XKeyscore and other NSA systems to obtain ongoing ‘real-time’ interception of an individual’s internet activity.”
– Facebook Says Technical Flaw Exposed 6 Million Users (New York Times, June 21, 2013):
SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook has inadvertently exposed six million users’ phone numbers and e-mail addresses to unauthorized viewers over the last year, the company said late Friday.
Facebook blamed the data leaks, which began in 2012, on a technical flaw in its huge archive of contact information collected from its 1.1 billion users worldwide. As a result of the problem, Facebook users who downloaded contact data for their list of friends obtained additional information that they were not supposed to have.
– Some Obama political appointees using secret email accounts; White House defends practice (Washington Post/AP, June 4, 2013):
WASHINGTON — Some of President Barack Obama’s political appointees are using secret government email accounts to conduct official business, The Associated Press found, a practice that complicates agencies’ legal responsibilities to find and turn over emails under public records requests and congressional inquiries.White House spokesman Jay Carney on Tuesday acknowledged the practice and said it made eminent sense for Cabinet secretaries and other high-profile officials to have what he called alternative email accounts that wouldn’t fill with unwanted messages. Carney said all their email accounts, public and otherwise, were subject to congressional oversight and requests by citizens under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.
“There’s nothing secret,” Carney said.
The AP reviewed hundreds of pages of government emails released under the federal open records law and couldn’t independently find instances when material from any of the secret accounts it identified was turned over. Congressional oversight committees told the AP they were unfamiliar with the few nonpublic government addresses that AP identified so far, including one for Secretary Kathleen Sebelius of the Health and Human Services Department.
– Judge Orders Google To Give Customer Data To FBI (Huffingtion Post, June 1, 2013):
SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge has ruled that Google Inc. must comply with the FBI’s warrantless demands for customer data, rejecting the company’s argument that the government’s practice of issuing so-called national security letters to telecommunication companies, Internet service providers, banks and others was unconstitutional and unnecessary.
FBI counter-terrorism agents began issuing the secret letters, which don’t require a judge’s approval, after Congress passed the USA Patriot Act in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.