Watch How Casually False Claims are Published: New York Times and Nicholas Lemann Edition

Like most people, I’ve long known that factual falsehoods are routinely published in major media outlets. But as I’ve pointed out before, nothing makes you internalize just how often it really happens, how completely their editorial standards so often fail, like being personally involved in a story that receives substantial media coverage. I cannot count how many times I’ve read or heard claims from major media outlets about the Snowden story that I knew, from first-hand knowledge, were a total fabrication.We have a perfect example of how this happens from the New York Times today, in a book review by Nicholas Lemann, the Pulitzer-Moore professor of journalism at Columbia University as well as a long-time staff writer for The New Yorker.

Fuente: Watch How Casually False Claims are Published: New York Times and Nicholas Lemann Edition

Three New Scandals Show How Pervasive and Dangerous Mass Surveillance Is in the West, Vindicating Snowden

While most eyes are focused on the presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, three major events prove how widespread, and dangerous, mass surveillance has become in the West. Standing alone, each event highlights exactly the severe threats that motivated Edward Snowden to blow his whistle; taken together, they constitute full-scale vindication of everything he’s done.

Fuente: Three New Scandals Show How Pervasive and Dangerous Mass Surveillance Is in the West, Vindicating Snowden

Don’t let WhatsApp nudge you into sharing your data with Facebook | John Naughton | Opinion | The Guardian

The popular messaging app built its reputation on putting users first. Now its corporate owners are looking for payback at our expense

Fuente: Don’t let WhatsApp nudge you into sharing your data with Facebook | John Naughton | Opinion | The Guardian

The CIA Is Investing in Firms That Mine Your Tweets and Instagram Photos

SOFT ROBOTS THAT can grasp delicate objects, computer algorithms designed to spot an “insider threat,” and artificial intelligence that will sift through large data sets — these are just a few of the technologies being pursued by companies with investment from In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture capital firm, according to a document obtained by The Intercept.

Fuente: The CIA Is Investing in Firms That Mine Your Tweets and Instagram Photos

La clave de cifrado global de BlackBerry, en manos de la polícia

Problemas para BlackBerry. Mientras Apple lucha en los tribunales -y fuera de ellos- para proteger la privacidad de los usuarios, Vice News desvela, a través de documentos por un caso de asesinato, cómo la Policía Canadiense habría obtenido la clave de cifrado global de BlackBerry, haciendo de la seguridad del sistema… algo prácticamente inservible y al servicio de las fuerzas y cuerpos de seguridad de Canadá. ¿Y lo peor del asunto? según fuentes de Vice, poseen esta clave desde 2010.

Fuente: La clave de cifrado global de BlackBerry, en manos de la polícia

We cannot trust our government, so we must trust the technology | US news | The Guardian

Apple’s battle with the FBI is not about privacy v security, but a conflict created by the US failure to legitimately oversee its security service post Snowden

Fuente: We cannot trust our government, so we must trust the technology | US news | The Guardian

El escándalo de espionaje pone en apuros al Gobierno de Merkel | Internacional | EL PAÍS

El escándalo de espionaje pone en apuros al Gobierno de Merkel | Internacional | EL PAÍS.

La colaboración entre los servicios secretos de Alemania y EE UU desata una tormenta política


La canciller alemana, Angela Merkel, en un acto en Berlín el 29 de abril. / JOHN MACDOUGALL (AFP)

El escándalo va creciendo hasta convertirse en una seria amenaza para la canciller Angela Merkel. Todo comenzó hace una semana, con la publicación de que los servicios secretos alemanes habían colaborado con sus colegas estadounidenses para espiar a algunas empresas y políticos. Pero el goteo de revelaciones ha ido subiendo la temperatura política en Alemania hasta que el jueves estalló una bomba de gran potencial destructivo para las relaciones de Berlín con sus socios europeos.

Según el Süddeutsche Zeitung, los estadounidenses se valieron de las instalaciones del BND —los servicios secretos alemanes— para espiar a altos funcionarios de instituciones tan relevantes como la Presidencia de la República Francesa, el Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores francés o la Comisión Europea. Consultados por EL PAÍS, los portavoces del Gobierno ni confirman ni desmienten la información con el argumento de que no pueden interferir en una investigación parlamentaria.

La información, publicada también por las cadenas de televisión NDR y WDR, ha sacudido la política berlinesa. Ya no se trata solo de que los espías alemanes dieran alguna información aislada a la Agencia Nacional de Seguridadestadounidense, la famosa NSA. Las denuncias son ahora más graves. A la sospecha cada vez más fundada de queel ministro del Interior, Thomas de Maizière, mintió al Parlamento sobre el caso, se une la acusación de haber vulnerado la ley para pasar información sobre socios y teóricos amigos en un periodo indeterminado que podría ir de 2002 hasta 2013.

La líder alemana tiene ahora que decidir si cede a la presión y deja caer alguna cabeza. Podría ser la del presidente del BND, Gerhard Schindel. O incluso la del propio De Maizière, uno de sus hombres de confianza, que lo ha sido todo en los tres Gabinetes Merkel: primero jefe de la Cancillería, luego ministro de Defensa y en la última legislatura, titular de Interior.

Cover-up claims over revelation that Germany spied on EU partners for US | World news | The Guardian

Cover-up claims over revelation that Germany spied on EU partners for US | World news | The Guardian.

 The German secret service’s monitoring station in Bad Aibling, Bavaria.
The German secret service’s monitoring station in Bad Aibling, Bavaria. Photograph: Diether Endlicher/EPA

Germany has been spying and eavesdropping on its closest partners in the EU and passing the information to the US for more than a decade, a parliamentary inquiry in Berlin has found, triggering allegations of lying and cover-ups reaching to the very top of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration.

There was outrage in Germany two years ago over the revelations by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden of US and British surveillance activities in Europe. The fresh disclosures are embarrassing for Berlin, which stands accused of hypocrisy in its protests about America spying on its allies.

“You don’t spy on your friends,” said Merkel when it was made known to her that her mobile phone was being monitored by the US National Security Agency (NSA). Since then, both sides have been embroiled in arguments about data privacy, with much talk among officials and diplomats of a collapse of German trust in the Americans.

But according to reports on a confidential Bundestag committee of inquiry into the NSA scandal, under a 2002 pact between German intelligence (BND) and theNSA, Berlin used its largest electronic eavesdropping facility in Bavaria to monitor email and telephone traffic at the Élysée Palace, the offices of the French president, and of key EU institutions in Brussels including the European commission.

Thomas de Maizière, the interior minister and a Merkel confidant, is in the firing line for allegedly lying about or covering up the German collaboration with the Americans. The minister has denied the allegations robustly and promised to answer before the parliamentary inquiry “the sooner the better”.

The best-selling tabloid Bildzeitung depicted de Maiziere as Pinocchio this week and accused him of “lying with impunity”. From 2005-9 he served as Merkel’s chief of staff, the post in Berlin that exercises authority over the BND. He is said to have been told of the spying activities in 2008.

German media reports are asserting that if De Maizière knew what was going on he has covered it up, and that if he did not know he was failing in his job while the BND ranged out of political control.

According to the newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and the public broadcasters WDR and NDR, citing information from the closed parliamentary inquiry, the BND’s biggest listening post at Bad Aibling in Bavaria “was abused for years for NSA spying on European states”.

Privacy fears over 'smart' Barbie that can listen to your kids | Technology | The Guardian

Privacy fears over ‘smart’ Barbie that can listen to your kids | Technology | The Guardian.

Hello Barbie toy
 Hello Barbie listens to children using cloud-based voice recognition technology, to understand them and talk back. Photograph: Mattel

A “smart” Barbie doll that can have “conversations” with children should not go on sale, privacy advocates have said.

Billed as the world’s first “interactive doll”, the toy uses voice recognition technology similar to that employed by Apple’s Siri and Google’s Now digital assistants to understand what a child is saying to Barbie and respond.

However, privacy advocates are worried about the use of voice recognition technology that sends recordings of children to third-party companies for processing, potentially revealing his or her intimate thoughts and details.

“If I had a young child, I would be very concerned that my child’s intimate conversations with her doll were being recorded and analysed,” said Professor Angela Campbell of Georgetown University law school.

“In Mattel’s demo, Barbie asks many questions that would elicit a great deal of information about a child, her interests, and her family. This information could be of great value to advertisers and be used to market unfairly to children.”

Western Spy Agencies Secretly Rely on Hackers for Intel and Expertise – The Intercept

Western Spy Agencies Secretly Rely on Hackers for Intel and Expertise – The Intercept.

Featured photo - Western Spy Agencies Secretly Rely on Hackers for Intel and Expertise

The U.S., U.K. and Canadian governments characterize hackers as a criminal menace, warn of the threats they allegedly pose to critical infrastructure, and aggressively prosecute them, but they are also secretly exploiting their information and expertise, according to top secret documents.

In some cases, the surveillance agencies are obtaining the content of emails by monitoring hackers as they breach email accounts, often without notifying the hacking victims of these breaches. “Hackers are stealing the emails of some of our targets… by collecting the hackers’ ‘take,’ we . . .  get access to the emails themselves,” reads one top secret 2010 National Security Agency document.

These and other revelations about the intelligence agencies’ reliance on hackers are contained in documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden. The documents—which come from the U.K. Government Communications Headquarters agency and NSA—shed new light on the various means used by intelligence agencies to exploit hackers’ successes and learn from their skills, while also raising questions about whether governments have overstated the threat posed by some hackers.

By looking out for hacking conducted “both by state-sponsored and freelance hackers” and riding on the coattails of hackers, Western intelligence agencies have gathered what they regard as valuable content:

Recently, Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) and Menwith Hill Station (MHS) discovered and began exploiting a target-rich data set being stolen by hackers. The hackers’ sophisticated email-stealing intrusion set is known as INTOLERANT. Of the traffic observed, nearly half contains category hits because the attackers are targeting email accounts of interest to the Intelligence Community. Although a relatively new data source, [Target Offices of Primary Interest] have already written multiple reports based on INTOLERANT collect.

The hackers targeted a wide range of diplomatic corps, human rights and democracy activists and even journalists:

INTOLERANT traffic is very organized. Each event is labeled to identify and categorize victims. Cyber attacks commonly apply descriptors to each victim – it helps herd victims and track which attacks succeed and which fail. Victim categories make INTOLERANT interesting:

A = Indian Diplomatic & Indian Navy
B = Central Asian diplomatic
C = Chinese Human Rights Defenders
D = Tibetan Pro-Democracy Personalities
E = Uighur Activists
F = European Special Rep to Afghanistan and Indian photo-journalism
G = Tibetan Government in Exile

In those cases, the NSA and its partner agencies in the United Kingdom and Canada were unable to determine the identity of the hackers who collected the data, but suspect a state sponsor “based on the level of sophistication and the victim set.”

Latest FBI Claim of Disrupted Terror Plot Deserves Much Scrutiny and Skepticism – The Intercept

Latest FBI Claim of Disrupted Terror Plot Deserves Much Scrutiny and Skepticism – The Intercept.


Featured photo - Latest FBI Claim of Disrupted Terror Plot Deserves Much Scrutiny and Skepticism

The Justice Department on Wednesday issued a press release trumpeting its latest success in disrupting a domestic terrorism plot, announcing that “the Joint Terrorism Task Force has arrested a Cincinnati-area man for a plot to attack the U.S. Capitol and kill government officials.” The alleged would-be terrorist is 20-year-old Christopher Cornell (above), who is unemployed, lives at home, spends most of his time playing video games in his bedroom, still addresses his mother as “Mommy” and regards his cat as his best friend; he was described as “a typical student” and “quiet but not overly reserved” by the principal of the local high school he graduated in 2012.

The affidavit filed by an FBI investigative agent alleges Cornell had “posted comments and information supportive of [ISIS] through Twitter accounts.” The FBI learned about Cornell from an unnamed informant who, as the FBI put it, “began cooperating with the FBI in order to obtain favorable treatment with respect to his criminal exposure on an unrelated case.” Acting under the FBI’s direction, the informant arranged two in-person meetings with Cornell where they allegedly discussed an attack on the Capitol, and the FBI says it arrested Cornell to prevent him from carrying out the attack.

Family members say Cornell converted to Islam just six months ago and claimed he began attending a small local mosque. Yet The Cincinnati Enquirer could not find a single person at that mosque who had ever seen him before, and noted that a young, white, recent convert would have been quite conspicuous at a mosque largely populated by “immigrants from West Africa,” many of whom “speak little or no English.”

The DOJ’s press release predictably generated an avalanche of scary media headlines hailing the FBI. CNN: “FBI says plot to attack U.S. Capitol was ready to go.” MSNBC: “US terror plot foiled by FBI arrest of Ohio man.” Wall St. Journal: “Ohio Man Charged With Plotting ISIS-Inspired Attack on U.S. Capitol.”

Just as predictably, political officials instantly exploited the news to justify their powers of domestic surveillance. House Speaker John Boehner claimed yesterday that “the National Security Agency’s snooping powers helped stop a plot to attack the Capitol and that his colleagues need to keep that in mind as they debate whether to renew the law that allows the government to collect bulk information from its citizens.” He warned: “We live in a dangerous country, and we get reminded every week of the dangers that are out there.” 

The whale that swallowed New Zealand's election campaign | World | The Guardian

The whale that swallowed New Zealand’s election campaign | World | The Guardian.

A spectacular exposé alleging prime minister John Key and his National party colleagues were involved in dirty tricks campaigns has created the most significant political maelstrom in nearly six years in office and blown the government’s re-election strategy dramatically off course, writes Toby ManhireJohn Key

John Key, New Zealand’s prime minister. Photograph: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty

At the beginning of the month, the New Zealand National party looked all but unassailable. The centre-right party, led by the enormously popular trader-turned-politician John Key, seemed firmly in control as they approached a September election, helped by an opposition in disarray. If a third term was not yet guaranteed – New Zealand’s proportional electoral system makes landslide victories improbable – it was clear it would take some remarkable turn of events to shift the momentum.

What a difference a book makes. Investigative journalist Nicky Hager’s “Dirty Politics: How attack politics is poisoning New Zealand’s political environment” has blown the National party strategy dramatically off course, propelling the campaign into uncharted territory. Its allegations have dominated news bulletins for the 10 days since its publication, as accusations of dirty tricks, smear campaigns and conspiracy sally in every direction.

Many predicted Hager’s book, details of which remained a secret until launch to forestall any injunction, would return to the subject of an earlier work, New Zealand’s role in the Five Eyes spying network. But instead of leaks from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, Hager had something which, in domestic political terms at least, would prove even more explosive: a cache of correspondence from the computer of Cameron Slater, a vigorous, venomous rightwing blogger better known by his site’s title, Whale Oil.



The Insidiousness of Facebook Messenger's Mobile App Terms of Service | Sam Fiorella

The Insidiousness of Facebook Messenger’s Mobile App Terms of Service | Sam Fiorella.

Sam Fiorella


How much access to your (and your friends’) personal data are you prepared to share for access to free mobile apps? I suspect the amount is significantly less than that which you actually agreed to share when blindly accepting the Terms of Service.

Case in point: Facebook’s Messenger App, which boasts over 1,000,000,000 downloads, requires the acceptance of an alarming amount of personal data and, even more startling, direct control over your mobile device. I’m willing to bet that few, if any, of those who downloaded this app read the full Terms of Service before accepting them and downloading the app.


The Facebook Messenger app is a standalone version of the instant chat feature within the social network. You can easily access this within the Facebook app on your mobile device, but opening the full application also requires more memory, bandwidth, and battery life. As a result, Facebook offers this one feature as a standalone app in which you can instantly chat with your Facebook friends without having to launch the full Facebook app.

If you’re one of those 1,000,000,000 people who have downloaded this app, take a moment to read the following. I’ve posted, word for word, a few of the most aggressive app permission you’ve accepted.

    • Allows the app to change the state of network connectivity

  • Allows the app to call phone numbers without your intervention. This may result in unexpected charges or calls. Malicious apps may cost you money by making calls without your confirmation.

  • Allows the app to send SMS messages. This may result in unexpected charges. Malicious apps may cost you money by sending messages without your confirmation.

  • Allows the app to record audio with microphone. This permission allows the app to record audio at any time without your confirmation.

  • Allows the app to take pictures and videos with the camera. This permission allows the app to use the camera at any time without your confirmation.

  • Allows the app to read you phone’s call log, including data about incoming and outgoing calls. This permission allows apps to save your call log data, and malicious apps may share call log data without your knowledge.

  • Allows the app to read data about your contacts stored on your phone, including the frequency with which you’ve called, emailed, or communicated in other ways with specific individuals.

  • Allows the app to read personal profile information stored on your device, such as your name and contact information. This means the app can identify you and may send your profile information to others.

  • Allows the app to access the phone features of the device. This permission allows the app to determine the phone number and device IDs, whether a call is active, and the remote number connected by a call.

  • Allows the app to get a list of accounts known by the phone. This may include any accounts created by applications you have installed.

Hacking Online Polls and Other Ways British Spies Seek to Control the Internet – The Intercept

Hacking Online Polls and Other Ways British Spies Seek to Control the Internet – The Intercept.

By 390
Featured photo - Hacking Online Polls and Other Ways British Spies Seek to Control the Internet

The secretive British spy agency GCHQ has developed covert tools to seed the internet with false information, including the ability to manipulate the results of online polls, artificially inflate pageview counts on web sites, “amplif[y]” sanctioned messages on YouTube, and censor video content judged to be “extremist.” The capabilities, detailed in documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, even include an old standby for pre-adolescent prank callers everywhere: A way to connect two unsuspecting phone users together in a call.

The tools were created by GCHQ’s Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG), and constitute some of the most startling methods of propaganda and internet deception contained within the Snowden archive. Previously disclosed documents have detailed JTRIG’s use of “fake victim blog posts,” “false flag operations,” “honey traps” and psychological manipulation to target online activists, monitor visitors to WikiLeaks, and spy on YouTube and Facebook users.

But as the U.K. Parliament today debates a fast-tracked bill to provide the government with greater surveillance powers, one which Prime Minister David Cameron has justified as an “emergency” to “help keep us safe,” a newly released top-secret GCHQ document called “JTRIG Tools and Techniques” provides a comprehensive, birds-eye view of just how underhanded and invasive this unit’s operations are. The document—available in full here—is designed to notify other GCHQ units of JTRIG’s “weaponised capability” when it comes to the dark internet arts, and serves as a sort of hacker’s buffet for wreaking online havoc.

Newly Obtained Emails Contradict Administration Claims on Guardian Laptop Destruction – The Intercept

Newly Obtained Emails Contradict Administration Claims on Guardian Laptop Destruction – The Intercept.

By 162
Featured photo - Newly Obtained Emails Contradict Administration Claims on Guardian Laptop DestructionDocuments obtained from the Obama administration from an Associated Press FOIA request

On July 20, 2013, agents of the U.K. government entered The Guardian newsroom in London and compelled them to physically destroy the computers they were using to report on the Edward Snowden archive. The Guardian reported this a month later after my partner, David Miranda, was detained at Heathrow Airport for 11 hours under a British terrorism law and had all of his electronic equipment seized. At the time, the Obama administration—while admitting that it was told in advance of the Heathrow detention—pretended that it knew nothing about the forced laptop destruction and would never approve of such attacks on press freedom. From the August 20, 2013, press briefing by then-deputy White House press secretary Josh Earnest:

Q: A last one on the NSA—The Guardian newspaper, following on everything that was discussed yesterday—The Guardian is saying that British authorities destroyed several hard drives, because they wanted to keep secrets that Edward Snowden had leaked from actually getting out.  They were stored in The Guardian‘s—they had some hard drives there at their offices.  British authorities went in there and destroyed these hard drives. Did the American government get a heads up about that the way you did about the person being detained?

MR. EARNEST:  I’ve seen the published reports of those accusations, but I don’t have any information for you on that.

Q: And does the U.S. government think it’s appropriate for a government, especially one of our allies, to go in and destroy hard drives? Is that something this administration would do?

MR. EARNEST: The only thing I know about this are the public reports about this, so it’s hard for me to evaluate the propriety of what they did based on incomplete knowledge of what happened.

Q: But this administration would not do that, would not go into an American media company and destroy hard drives, even if it meant trying to protect national security, you don’t think?

MR. EARNEST: It’s very difficult to imagine a scenario in which that would be appropriate.

But emails just obtained by Associated Press pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act request (FOIA) prove that senior Obama national security officials— including Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and then-NSA chief Keith Alexander—not only knew in advance that U.K. officials intended to force The Guardian to destroy their computers, but overtly celebrated it.

The "Cuban Twitter" Scam Is a Drop in the Internet Propaganda Bucket – The Intercept

The “Cuban Twitter” Scam Is a Drop in the Internet Propaganda Bucket – The Intercept.

Featured photo - The “Cuban Twitter” Scam Is a Drop in the Internet Propaganda BucketA woman uses her cellphone as she sits on the Malecon in Havana, Cuba. Image credit: Franklin Reyes/AP

This week, the Associated Press exposed a secret program run by the U.S. Agency for International Development to create “a Twitter-like Cuban communications network” run through “secret shell companies” in order to create the false appearance of being a privately owned operation. Unbeknownst to the service’s Cuban users was the fact that “American contractors were gathering their private data in the hope that it might be used for political purposes”–specifically, to manipulate those users in order to foment dissent in Cuba and subvert its government. According to top-secret documents published today by The Intercept, this sort of operation is frequently discussed at western intelligence agencies, which have plotted ways to covertly use social media for ”propaganda,” “deception,” “mass messaging,” and “pushing stories.”

These ideas–discussions of how to exploit the internet, specifically social media, to surreptitiously disseminate viewpoints friendly to western interests and spread false or damaging information about targets–appear repeatedly throughout the archive of materials provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Documents prepared by NSA and its British counterpart GCHQ–and previously published by The Intercept as well as some by NBC News–detailed several of those programs, including a unit devoted in part to “discrediting” the agency’s enemies with false information spread online.

The documents in the archive show that the British are particularly aggressive and eager in this regard, and formally shared their methods with their U.S. counterparts. One previously undisclosed top-secret documentprepared by GCHQ for the 2010 annual “SIGDEV” gathering of the “Five Eyes” surveillance alliance comprising the UK, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and the U.S.–explicitly discusses ways to exploit Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other social media as secret platforms for propaganda.