The Strangers Who Got Snowden’s Secrets in the Mail

The story of Edward Snowden’s disclosure of NSA secrets to the press has been told and retold in books, films, and countless articles. Left unreported has been the quiet role of two journalists who literally had Snowden material mailed to them in a cardboard box.

Fuente: The Strangers Who Got Snowden’s Secrets in the Mail


¿Qué tenía el trabajo universitario que provocó una alerta de seguridad porque equivalía a “exportar armas nucleares a un gobierno hostil”? – El Mostrador

¿Por qué una agencia de espías de Estados Unidos no quería que los universitarios discutieran su trabajo en público? El caso es que no lograron acallarlos y, gracias a ello, tenemos la web.

Fuente: ¿Qué tenía el trabajo universitario que provocó una alerta de seguridad porque equivalía a “exportar armas nucleares a un gobierno hostil”? – El Mostrador


Se cumple el aniversario de la filtración masiva de datos del Hacking Team | R3D: Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales

Hace un año, más de mil 500 correos electrónicos y 400 GB de información de la empresa italiana Hacking Team, dedicada a la venta de software para vigilancia, fueron hechos públicos.

Fuente: Se cumple el aniversario de la filtración masiva de datos del Hacking Team | R3D: Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales


La reforma de la NSA se queda a medio camino un año después | Internacional | EL PAÍS

La reforma de la NSA se queda a medio camino un año después | Internacional | EL PAÍS.


Algunos de los cambios anunciados por Obama no se han materializado

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Centro de datos de la NSA, en Utah. / RICK BOWMER (AP)

El teléfono de J. Kirk Wiebe suena desde hace unos meses con menos frecuencia. Wiebe fue uno de los primeros filtradores de la Agencia Nacional de Seguridad. Tras jubilarse en 2001, denunció, junto a dos veteranos exanalistas, que la NSA tenía cada vez más acceso a datos personales. Lograron poca atención y fueron perseguidos en la justicia. Pero en junio de 2013, adquirieron notoriedad gracias a las revelaciones deEdward Snowden sobre los largos tentáculos de la NSA: empezaron a dar muchas más charlas en Estados Unidos y Europa sobre su experiencia e influencia.

“Snowden nos había visto diciendo que intentamos ir por los canales internos del Gobierno y no conseguimos nada”, subraya Wiebe en alusión a que, tras fracasar ellos, Snowden optase por filtrar secretos a la prensa en vez de formular una queja interna en la NSA.

Pero ahora, al año y medio de las filtraciones de Snowden y al año de anunciarse la reforma de los programas de vigilancia, se habla mucho menos del joven exanalista refugiado en Rusia y del espionaje masivo. “La excitación ha bajado un poco, pero a la gente sigue sin gustarle [la NSA]”, agrega en una entrevista telefónica Wiebe, de 70 años, 30 de ellos en la agencia. La percepción pública sobre la NSA apenas ha variado: en octubre de 2013, un 54% tenía una opinión favorable; en enero de este año, un 51% (sobre todo jóvenes), según una encuesta del centro Pew.

Al año y medio de las filtraciones de Snowden y al año de anunciarse la reforma de los programas de vigilancia, se habla mucho menos del joven exanalista refugiado en Rusia y del espionaje masivo

Sin embargo, buena parte del debate en EE UU sobre los límites de la recopilación masiva de datos ha quedado eclipsado. El contexto ha cambiado, lo que puede propiciar retrocesos: crecen las voces que, ante el auge del yihadismo, se oponen a restringir los programas de vigilancia, y reclaman que las autoridades tengan plenos poderes para desbloquear la encriptación de teléfonos móviles.

La reforma de la NSA se ha quedado, por ahora, a medio camino. En enero de 2014, el presidente de EE UU, Barack Obama, anunció un conjunto de cambios para limitar la interceptación de datos sin mermar la protección de la seguridad nacional. Su objetivo era atenuar las preocupaciones de ciudadanos estadounidenses y gobiernos extranjeros aliados sobre posibles injerencias a la privacidad.


When it comes to surveillance, there is everything to play for | James Ball | Comment is free | theguardian.com

When it comes to surveillance, there is everything to play for | James Ball | Comment is free | theguardian.com.

Against a backdrop of hacks and terror attacks, it’s possible that surveillance powers will be further strengthened
Man looking through binoculars
‘Major players are starting to regard privacy as a selling point: Google and others are encrypting ever more of their traffic.’ Photograph: Tom Jenkins

Looking back at 2014 from the perspective of a surveillance reformer is a short and dispiriting task: almost nothing good happened.


The NSA and Me – The Intercept

The NSA and Me – The Intercept.

By James Bamford

The tone of the answering machine message was routine, like a reminder for a dental appointment. But there was also an undercurrent of urgency. “Please call me back,” the voice said. “It’s important.”

What worried me was who was calling: a senior attorney with the Justice Department’s secretive Office of Intelligence Policy and Review. By the time I hung up the payphone at a little coffee shop in Cambridge, Mass., and wandered back to my table, strewn with yellow legal pads and dog-eared documents, I had guessed what he was after: my copy of the Justice Department’s top-secret criminal file on the National Security Agency. Only two copies of the original were ever made. Now I had to find a way to get it out of the country—fast.

It was July 8, 1981, a broiling Wednesday in Harvard Square, and I was in a quiet corner of the Algiers Coffee House on Brattle Street. A cool, souk-like basement room, with the piney aroma of frankincense, it made for a perfect hideout to sort through documents, jot down notes, and pore over stacks of newspapers while sipping bottomless cups of Arabic coffee and espresso the color of dark chocolate.

1967-Hawaii-Boat-21

The author in Hawaii, 1967

For several years I had been working on my first book, The Puzzle Palace, which provided the first in-depth look at the National Security Agency. The deeper I dug, the more troubled I became. Not only did the classified file from the Justice Department accuse the NSA of systematically breaking the law by eavesdropping on American citizens, it concluded that it was impossible to prosecute those running the agency because of the enormous secrecy that enveloped it. Worse, the file made clear that the NSA itself was effectively beyond the law—allowed to bypass statutes passed by Congress and follow its own super-classified charter, what the agency called a “top-secret birth certificate” drawn up by the White House decades earlier.

Knowing the potential for such an unregulated agency to go rogue, I went on to write two more books about the NSA, Body of Secrets, in 2001, and The Shadow Factory, in 2008. My goal was to draw attention to the dangers the agency posed if it is not closely watched and controlled—dangers that would be laid bare in stark detail by Edward Snowden years later.


We wanted the web for free – but the price is deep surveillance | Technology | The Observer

We wanted the web for free – but the price is deep surveillance | Technology | The Observer.

Advertising has become the online business model but by its very nature it involves corporations spying on users to produce more targeted results
Pop ups 'have become the most hated tool in the advertiser's toolkit'.

Pop ups ‘have become the most hated tool in the advertiser’s toolkit’. Photograph: Observer

‘Be careful what you wish for,” runs the adage. “You might just get it.” In the case of the internet, or, at any rate, the world wide web, this is exactly what happened. We wanted exciting services – email, blogging, social networking, image hosting – that were “free”. And we got them. What we also got, but hadn’t bargained for, was deep, intensive and persistent surveillance of everything we do online.

We ought to have known that it would happen. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, after all. Online services cost a bomb to provide: code has to be written (by programmers who have to be paid); servers have to be bought or rented, powered, housed, cooled and maintained; bandwidth has to be paid for; and so on. So there were basically only two business models that could have supported our desires.

One model involved us paying for stuff. But we (or most of us, anyway) proved deeply resistant to this idea. We had the fantasy that everything online should be free, after we’d paid an ISP for a connection to the net. So paying for stuff was a non-starter.

The companies that provided the “free” services therefore had to find another business model. And in the end they found one: it was calledadvertising or, rather, putting advertisers in touch with the users of “free” services. And it turned out that the only way to do this involved intensive surveillance of everything those users did online.

Which brings us to where we are today, a world in which, as the security guru Bruce Schneier puts it: “The business model of the internet is surveillance. We build systems that spy on people in exchange for services. Corporations call it marketing.”


New NSA chief says 'sky not falling down' after Snowden revelations | World news | theguardian.com

New NSA chief says ‘sky not falling down’ after Snowden revelations | World news | theguardian.com.

Michael Rogers says some terrorists have made changes to the way they communicate but talks down damage from revelations

 

 

Admiral Michael Rogers, the new head of the NSA.

Admiral Michael Rogers, the new head of the NSA. Photograph: Lauren Victoria Burke/AP

 

The new director of the National Security Agency, Admiral Michael Rogers, has played down the damage caused by Edward Snowden‘s revelations – in contrast to claims by his predecessor and British counterparts that it was one of the worst breaches in intelligence history.

Rogers said in an interview with the New York Times that some terrorists had made changes in the way they communicate as a result of the revelations focusing on the US spying communications agency, but overall he had concluded the sky was not falling down.

His predecessor, General Keith Alexander, described the leak of tens of thousands of documents from the NSA and British counterpart GCHQ – as well as the surveillance agencies of Australia, New Zealand and Canada– as “the greatest damage to our combined nations’ intelligence systems that we have ever suffered”. British intelligence has spoken of areas of the world having “gone dark” and of disruption caused to intelligence-gathering.

The outgoing head of MI6, Sir John Sawers, giving evidence to a parliamentary committee, said Britain’s enemies were rubbing their hands with glee and “al-Qaida is lapping it up”.

Rogers said the agency had overheard terrorist groups “specifically referencing data detailed” by Snowden’s revelations. “I have seen groups not only talk about making changes, I have seen them make changes,” he said. But he added: “You have not heard me as the director say, ‘Oh, my God, the sky is falling.’ I am trying to be very specific and very measured in my characterisations.”


Privacy under attack: the NSA files revealed new threats to democracy | Technology | The Guardian

Privacy under attack: the NSA files revealed new threats to democracy | Technology | The Guardian.

Thanks to Edward Snowden, we know the apparatus of repression has been covertly attached to the democratic state. However, our struggle to retain privacy is far from hopeless

US National Security Agency
The US National Security Agency threat operations centre in Fort Meade, Maryland, in 2006. Photograph: Paul Richards/AFP/Getty Images

In the third chapter of his History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon gave two reasons why the slavery into which the Romans had tumbled under Augustus and his successors left them more wretched than any previous human slavery. In the first place, Gibbon said, the Romans had carried with them into slavery the culture of a free people: their language and their conception of themselves as human beings presupposed freedom. And thus, says Gibbon, for a long time the Romans preserved the sentiments – or at least the ideas – of a freeborn people. In the second place, the empire of the Romans filled all the world, and when that empire fell into the hands of a single person, the world was a safe and dreary prison for his enemies. As Gibbon wrote, to resist was fatal, and it was impossible to fly.

The power of that Roman empire rested in its leaders’ control of communications. The Mediterranean was their lake. Across their European empire, from Scotland to Syria, they pushed roads that 15 centuries later were still primary arteries of European transportation. Down those roads the emperor marched his armies. Up those roads he gathered his intelligence. The emperors invented the posts to move couriers and messages at the fastest possible speed.

Using that infrastructure, with respect to everything that involved the administration of power, the emperor made himself the best-informed person in the history of the world.

That power eradicated human freedom. “Remember,” said Cicero to Marcellus in exile, “wherever you are, you are equally within the power of the conqueror.”

The empire of the United States after the second world war also depended upon control of communications. This was more evident when, a mere 20 years later, the United States was locked in a confrontation of nuclear annihilation with the Soviet Union. In a war of submarines hidden in the dark below the continents, capable of eradicating human civilisation in less than an hour, the rule of engagement was “launch on warning”. Thus the United States valued control of communications as highly as the Emperor Augustus. Its listeners too aspired to know everything.

We all know that the United States has for decades spent as much on its military might as all other powers in the world combined. Americans are now realising what it means that we applied to the stealing of signals and the breaking of codes a similar proportion of our resources in relation to the rest of the world.

The US system of listening comprises a military command controlling a large civilian workforce. That structure presupposes the foreign intelligence nature of listening activities. Military control was a symbol and guarantee of the nature of the activity being pursued. Wide-scale domestic surveillance under military command would have violated the fundamental principle of civilian control.

Instead what it had was a foreign intelligence service responsible to the president as military commander-in-chief. The chain of military command absolutely ensured respect for the fundamental principle “no listening here”. The boundary between home and away distinguished the permissible from the unconstitutional.

The distinction between home and away was at least technically credible, given the reality of 20th-century communications media, which were hierarchically organised and very often state-controlled.

When the US government chose to listen to other governments abroad – to their militaries, to their diplomatic communications, to their policymakers where possible – they were listening in a world of defined targets. The basic principle was: hack, tap, steal. We listened, we hacked in, we traded, we stole.

In the beginning we listened to militaries and their governments. Later we monitored the flow of international trade as far as it engaged American national security interests.


How Edward Snowden went from loyal NSA contractor to whistleblower | World news | The Guardian

How Edward Snowden went from loyal NSA contractor to whistleblower | World news | The Guardian.

He was politically conservative, a gun owner, a geek – and the man behind the biggest intelligence leak in history. In this exclusive extract from his new book, Luke Harding looks at Edward Snowden’s journey from patriot to America’s most wanted
Edward Snowden illustrationView larger picture

Click for full picture. Image by Kyle Bean for the Guardian

In late December 2001, someone calling themselves TheTrueHOOHA had a question. He was an 18-year-old American male with impressive IT skills and a sharp intelligence. His real identity was unknown. Everyone who posted on Ars Technica, a popular technology website, did so anonymously.

  1. The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man
  2. by Luke Harding
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TheTrueHOOHA wanted to set up his own web server. It was a Saturday morning, a little after 11am. He posted: “It’s my first time. Be gentle. Here’s my dilemma: I want to be my own host. What do I need?”

Soon, regular users were piling in with helpful suggestions. TheTrueHOOHA replied: “Ah, the vast treasury of geek knowledge that is Ars.” He would become a prolific contributor; over the next eight years, he authored nearly 800 comments. He described himself variously as “unemployed”, a failed soldier, a “systems editor”, and someone who had US State Department security clearance.

His home was on the east coast of America in the state of Maryland, near Washington DC. But by his mid-20s he was already an international man of mystery. He popped up in Europe – in Geneva, London, Ireland, Italy and Bosnia. He travelled to India. Despite having no degree, he knew an astonishing amount about computers. His politics appeared staunchly Republican. He believed strongly in personal liberty, defending, for example, Australians who farmed cannabis plants.

At times he could be rather obnoxious. He called one fellow-Arsian, for example, a “cock”; others who disagreed with his sink-or-swim views on social security were “fucking retards”.

His chat logs cover a colourful array of themes: gaming, girls, sex, Japan, the stock market, his disastrous stint in the US army, his negative impressions of multiracial Britain (he was shocked by the number of “Muslims” in east London and wrote, “I thought I had gotten off of the plane in the wrong country… it was terrifying”), the joys of gun ownership (“I have a Walther P22. It’s my only gun but I love it to death,” he wrote in 2006). In their own way, the logs form a Bildungsroman.

Then, in 2009, the entries fizzle away. In February 2010, TheTrueHOOHA mentions a thing that troubles him: pervasive government surveillance. “Society really seems to have developed an unquestioning obedience towards spooky types… Did we get to where we are today via a slippery slope that was entirely within our control to stop? Or was it a relatively instantaneous sea change that sneaked in undetected because of pervasive government secrecy?”

TheTrueHOOHA’s last post is on 21 May 2012. After that, he disappears, a lost electronic signature amid the vastness of cyberspace. He was, we now know, Edward Snowden.


Obama pretende cerrar la controversia del espionaje de la NSA | Internacional | EL PAÍS

Obama pretende cerrar la controversia del espionaje de la NSA | Internacional | EL PAÍS.


La sede de la NSA en Fort Meade, Maryland. / NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY / HANDO (EFE)

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El presidente de Estados Unidos, Barack Obama, tratará de cerrar definitivamente este viernes la controversia que se ha generado alrededor del espionaje de la Agencia Nacional de Seguridad (NSA) filtrados por Edward Snowden con el anuncio de los cambios que tiene previsto ejecutar en el funcionamiento y la estructura de la agencia de espionaje. Hasta ahora, sólo la canciller alemana, Angela Merkel, una de las más notables damnificadas por la vigilancia del Gobierno de EE UU, y el Primer Ministro británico, David Cameron, dirigente del principal aliado en las prácticas de la NSA -Obama llamó a Merkel la semana pasada y el jueves habló con Cameron-, conocen el resultado de una reforma que pretende, según la Casa Blanca, dotar de más transparencia a las actividades de los servicios de Inteligencia pero garantizando la equidistancia y el equilibrio entre la seguridad y la protección del derecho a la privacidad.

Poco ha trascendido del alcance de la revisión, más allá de que es muy probable que el presidente modifique de forma radical el programa de recopilación masiva de llamadas, de acuerdo con la información recogida por varios medios de comunicación estadounidenses y adopte varias de las recomendaciones que el comité presidencial de expertos, nombrado en agosto, entregó a la Casa Blanca a finales de diciembre, entre ellas una supervisión más férrea de la ejecución de los programas de la NSA o el traslado a una tercera agencia o a una empresa privada del control de las bases de metadatos obtenidas gracias a los programas de recopilación de llamadas.

El goteo de filtraciones se ha convertido en la mayor pesadilla de la segunda legislatura de Obama que haempañado casi la totalidad de la actividad política del presidente a lo largo de 2013. Snowden sigue en Rusia, en un claro recuerdo del fracaso de la diplomacia estadounidense por obtener su extradición; el Congreso -cuyo apoyo va a ser determinante en la ejecución de las reformas que proponga Obama respecto de la vigilancia de ciudadanos estadounidenses y en el interior de EE UU- ha encontrado otro foco de disputa y división en torno a la necesidad de mantener o suprimir parte de los programas de la NSA; la constatación del espionaje a líderes extranjeros ha maniatado a la Administración en materia de política exterior.

La magnitud y la discrecionalidad de la vigilancia ejercida por el Gobierno de EE UU ha minado la credibilidad de Obama, cuestionando seriamente su reputación como adalid de los derechos civiles y de la transparencia gubernativa que preconizó al llegar a la Casa Blanca. De la saga del espionaje, el control de la comunicación personal de los líderes políticos es, quizás, el capítulo que más titulares y controversia ha suscitado.

La destilación diaria de nuevos programas y prácticas de la NSA ha hecho perder la perspectiva de la dimensión y la transcendencia de una actividad que, realmente parece no tener límites. La que sigue es una recopilación exhaustiva de todas las informaciones sobre el espionaje de la agencia y sus consecuencias que han aparecido en la prensa de todo el mundo desde que el 5 de junio, The Guardian revelara el contenido de los primeros documentos sustraídos por Snowden.