Private Surveillance Is a Lethal Weapon Anybody Can Buy: Is it too late to rein it in?
Sharon Weinberger, The New York Times, July 19, 2019
. . . One thing is clear: The private surveillance industry is growing. A firm that creates a catalog of these technologies, once named the “Little Black Book of Electronic Surveillance,” changed the name in 2016 to the “Big BlackBook.” It had doubled in size in its first three years. The 2017 edition includes 150 vendors.
The genesis of this global spy bazaar can be traced back to the frenetic weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, when Congress rushed through the Patriot Act, a law that vastly expanded the American government’s wiretapping authorities. In the process, lawmakers inadvertently created a market for companies interested in providing services and technologies to collect and analyze the new trove of data. . . .
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National Security and Medical Information
Electronic Frontier Foundation (no date)
When exploring medical privacy issues, it's very useful to have an overview of the laws that affect control and privacy of medical information. We encourage you to read our legal overview.
The government has many options for obtaining your medical records on the grounds of national security. And if your medical records are swept up in a national security investigation, you likely won't be asked to consent and potentially won't ever know your medical records were accessed.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule that went into effect in 2003 included a national security exception that permits doctors, hospitals, and any other "covered entity" to disclose individual health information "to authorized federal officials for the conduct of lawful intelligence, counter-intelligence, and other national security activities authorized by the National Security Act." This exception overrides the normal requirement that your authorization is needed before your medical information can be disclosed for anything other than your treatment, bill payment, or your health care provider’s business operations.
This national security exception appears to allow covered entities to disclose health records, at their own discretion, to any federal agency that plays a role in intelligence, counter-intelligence, and national security activities. This includes but isn't limited to the CIA, the FBI, and the NSA.
For example, a hospital could disclose any or all of the patient medical records in its possession to the NSA on the hospital’s own initiative, and could even allow the NSA or other federal agencies to access the hospital’s health record system on a permanent, ongoing basis. This could be done without a court order, without any procedural or substantive protections or barriers, and even without any request from the agency. . . .
Bio-terrorism, Central Intelligence Agency, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Federal, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Health Records, Intelligence Community, Medical, Medical Records, Military, National Security, National Security Act, National Security Agency, Notice of Privacy Practices (NPP), Patriot Act, President, Privacy, Section 215 of the Patriot Act, Secret Service, Surveillance
Letter from ACLU and 40 other groups requesting that Congress review Section 215 of the Patriot Act
March 18, 2019
The Honorable Jerrold Nadler
Committee on the Judiciary
U.S. House of Representatives
2138 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable Doug Collins
Ranking Member Committee on the Judiciary
U.S. House of Representatives
2138 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Chairman Nadler and Ranking Member Collins:
The undersigned organizations, which are dedicated to preserving privacy, civil liberties, and advancing transparency and accountability, write to request that you hold hearings and make public information critical to permit an informed debate over the reauthorization of Section 215 and other provisions of the Patriot Act, which are set to expire December 15, 2019. . . .
Access Now, ADC American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, American Civil Liberties Union, American Library Association, Americans for Prosperity, Arab American Institute, Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, Call Detail Records, Carpenter v. United States 138 S.Ct. 2206, Cell Phones, Center for Democracy & Technology, Civil Liberties, Civil Rights, Color Of Change, Committee on the Judiciary, Consumer Action, Council on American-Islamic Relations, CREDO Action, Committee on Oversight and Reform, Defending Rights & Dissent, Demand Progress, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Electronic Privacy Information Center, Fight for the Future, First Amendment, FISA Amendments Act, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, Free Press Action, FreedomWorks, Government Accountability Project, Government Information Watch, Government Transparency, Human Rights Watch, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, Indivisible, Liberty Coalition, Million Hoodies Movement for Justice, Muslim Justice League, Muslim Public Affairs Council, NAACP, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, National Coalition Against Censorship, National Immigration Law Center, National Security, National Security Agency, New America's Open Technology Institute, Open the Government, Patriot Act, PEN America, Privacy, Project on Government Oversight, Restore The Fourth Inc., Section 215 of the Patriot Act, Section 702 of FISA Amendments Act, TechFreedom, Telephones, Transparency International, “Unique Identifiers", USA Freedom Act, US House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
Court Denies EFF Effort to Obtain Classified Significant Surveillance Court Opinions
Electronic Frontier Foundation, Aaron Mackey,March 28, 2019
A federal court’s ruling earlier this week has blunted a key provision of the surveillance reform law that required the government to be more transparent about legal decisions made by the United States secret surveillance court.
After Edward Snowden revealed the government’s ongoing mass collection of Americans’ telephone phone records in 2013, Congress responded by passing the USA Freedom Act in 2015. In addition to limiting the NSA’s surveillance authority, Congress also clearly intended to end the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court’s (FISC) ability to keep the decisions it made behind closed doors secret.
Since its inception in the 1970s, the government has asked the FISC to decide what constitutional or other legal protections, if any, Americans and others enjoy while seeking approval of the government’s secret mass surveillance programs. Though we were not happy with many aspects of the final USA Freedom language, EFF was pleased that the final language did require that the government review and declassify “each decision, order, or opinion” that contained significant interpretations of the Constitution or other laws and to make them “publicly available to the greatest extent practicable.” We believe this language, along with statements from Members of Congress during the debate, clearly require the FISC to release decisions both from before 2015 as well as after. . . .
California, District Court, Edward Snowden, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, Freedom of Information Act Requests, Government Transparency, Law, Lawsuits, National Security, National Security Agency, Phone Records, Privacy, Secret Law, Surveillance, USA Freedom Act
Disputed N.S.A. Phone Program Is Shut Down, Aide Says
New York Times, Charlie Savage, March 4, 2019
WASHINGTON — The National Security Agency has quietly shut down a system that analyzes logs of Americans’ domestic calls and texts, according to a senior Republican congressional aide, halting a program that has touched off disputes about privacy and the rule of law since the Sept. 11 attacks.
The agency has not used the system in months, and the Trump administration might not ask Congress to renew its legal authority, which is set to expire at the end of the year, according to the aide, Luke Murry, the House minority leader’s national security adviser.
In a raw assertion of executive power, President George W. Bush’s administration started the program as part of its intense pursuit for Qaeda conspirators in the weeks after the 2001 terrorist attacks, and a court later secretly blessed it. The intelligence contractor Edward J. Snowden disclosed the program’s existence in 2013, jolting the public and contributing to growing awareness of how both governments and private companies harvest and exploit personal data.
The way that intelligence analysts have gained access to bulk records of Americans’ phone calls and texts has evolved, but the purpose has been the same: They analyze social links to hunt for associates of known terrorism suspects. . . .
George W. Bush Administration, Edward Snowden, National Security Agency, New York Times, Phone Records, Patriot Act, Privacy, Section 215 of the Patriot Act, Security, USA Freedom Act
Is Big Tech Merging With Big Brother? Kinda Looks Like It
Wired, David Samuels Opinion, 1.23.19 07:00 AM
A FRIEND OF mine, who runs a large television production company in the car-mad city of Los Angeles, recently noticed that his intern, an aspiring filmmaker from the People’s Republic of China, was walking to work.
WHEN HE OFFERED to arrange a swifter mode of transportation, she declined. When he asked why, she explained that she “needed the steps” on her Fitbit to sign in to her social media accounts. If she fell below the right number of steps, it would lower her health and fitness rating, which is part of her social rating, which is monitored by the government. A low social rating could prevent her from working or traveling abroad.
China’s social rating system, which was announced by the ruling Communist Party in 2014, will soon be a fact of life for many more Chinese.
By 2020, if the Party’s plan holds, every footstep, keystroke, like, dislike, social media contact, and posting tracked by the state will affect one’s social rating.
Personal “creditworthiness” or “trustworthiness” points will be used to reward and punish individuals and companies by granting or denying them access to public services like health care, travel, and employment, according to a plan released last year by the municipal government of Beijing. High-scoring individuals will find themselves in a “green channel,” where they can more easily access social opportunities, while those who take actions that are disapproved of by the state will be “unable to move a step.” . . .
Amazon, Amazon Web Services, Azure Government Cloud Service, Big Brother, Central Intelligence Agency, China, Democratic Party, Dragon Fly, Facebook, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Google, GovCloud, Intelligence Community GovCloud, Joint Enterprise Defense Initiative, Microsoft, National Security, National Security Agency, Privacy, Security Classifications, Silican Valley, Social Rating System, Surveillance, Venezuela, Washington Post, Wired, Yahoo
N.S.A. Purges Hundreds of Millions of Call and Text Records
The New York Times, Charlie Savage, June 29, 2018
WASHINGTON — The National Security Agency has purged hundreds of millions of records logging phone calls and texts that it had gathered from American telecommunications companies since 2015, the agency has disclosed. It had realized that its database was contaminated with some files the agency had no authority to receive.
The agency began destroying the records on May 23, it said in a statement. Officials had discovered “technical irregularities” this year in its collection from phone companies of so-called call record details, or metadata showing who called or texted whom and when, but not what they said.
The agency had collected the data from a system it created under the USA Freedom Act. Congress enacted that law in 2015 to end and replace a once-secret program that had systematically collected Americans’ domestic calling records in bulk. The National Security Agency uses the data to analyze social links between people in a hunt for hidden associates of known terrorism suspects. . . .
Congress, Edward Snowden, Federal, George W. Bush Administration, National Security Agency, New York Times, Patriot Act, Privacy, Section 215 of the Patriot Act, Stellarwind, Surveillance, USA Freedom Act
The Intercept July 23 2014, 2:45 p.m.
Jeremy Scahill, Ryan Devereaux
The Obama administration has quietly approved a substantial expansion of the terrorist watchlist system, authorizing a secret process that requires neither “concrete facts” nor “irrefutable evidence” to designate an American or foreigner as a terrorist, according to a key government document obtained by The Intercept.
The “March 2013 Watchlisting Guidance,” a 166-page document issued last year by the National Counterterrorism Center, spells out the government’s secret rules for putting individuals on its main terrorist database, as well as the no fly list and the selectee list, which triggers enhanced screening at airports and border crossings. The new guidelines allow individuals to be designated as representatives of terror organizations without any evidence they are actually connected to such organizations, and it gives a single White House official the unilateral authority to place entire “categories” of people the government is tracking onto the no fly and selectee lists. It broadens the authority of government officials to “nominate” people to the watchlists based on what is vaguely described as “fragmentary information.” It also allows for dead people to be watchlisted. . . . .
Blacklisting, Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, "Known or Suspected Terrorists", "Known Terrorists", Law Enforcement, March 2103 Watchlisting Guidance, National Counterterrorism Center, National Security Agency, No Fly List, Obama Administration, Police, "Reasonable Suspicion", Secondary Security Screening Selection, "Suspected Terrorists", Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, Terrorist Screening Center, Traveler Redress Inquiry Program, Watchlisting, Watchlist Sharing
NEWS and publications
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