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Jun 06 2014
Jun 06 2014
Vodafone reveals existence of secret wires that allow state surveillance
Juliette Garside, The Guardian
Thursday 5 June 2014
The company said wires had been connected directly to its network and those of other telecoms groups, allowing agencies to listen to or record live conversations and, in certain cases, track the whereabouts of a customer. Privacy campaigners said the revelations were a “nightmare scenario” that confirmed their worst fears on the extent of snooping.
Direct-access systems do not require warrants, and companies have no information about the identity or the number of customers targeted. Mass surveillance can happen on any telecoms network without agencies having to justify their intrusion to the companies involved.
Industry sources say that in some cases, the direct-access wire, or pipe, is essentially equipment in a locked room in a network’s central data centre or in one of its local exchanges or “switches”.
Vodafone is calling for all direct-access pipes to be disconnected, and for the laws that make them legal to be amended. It says governments should “discourage agencies and authorities from seeking direct access to an operator’s communications infrastructure without a lawful mandate”.
All states should publish annual data on the number of warrants issued, the company argues. There are two types – those for the content of calls and messages, and those for the metadata, which can cover the location of a target’s device, the times and dates of communications, and the people with whom they communicated.
For brevity, the Guardian has also used the term metadata to cover warrants for customer information such as name and address. The information published in our table covers 2013 or the most recent year available. A single warrant can target hundreds of individuals and devices, and several warrants can target just one individual. Governments count warrants in different ways and New Zealand, for example, excludes those concerning national security. While software companies like Apple and Microsoft have jumped to publish the number of warrants they receive since the activities of America’s NSA and Britain’s GCHQ came to light, telecoms companies, which need government licences to operate, have been slower to respond.
Vodafone Reveals Government Agencies Have Direct Access To Its Network Around The World, No Warrants Required
by Glyn Moody, TechDirt
Fri, Jun 6th 2014
The Guardian story has lots of new information, and is well-worth reading. It includes a table that shows the number of warrants issued last year for legal interception of content, on a country-by-country basis. There are some surprises here — for example, the fact that the Australian government issued 685,757 warrants for metadata, which is even more than the UK’s 514,608 warrants, despite the fact that Australia has well under half the population of the UK. There are other fascinating details in the Vodafone Law Enforcement Disclosure Report itself. For example, it contains this explanation about what exactly a warrant might encompass these days:
Each warrant can target any number of different subscribers. It can also target any number of different communications services used by each of those subscribers and — in a modern and complex all-IP environment — it can also target multiple devices used by each subscriber to access each communications service. Additionally, the same individual can be covered by multiple warrants: for example, more than one agency or authority may be investigating a particular individual. Furthermore, the legal framework in some countries requires agencies and authorities to obtain a new warrant for each target service or device, even if those services or devices are all used by the same individual of interest. Note that in the majority of countries, warrants have a time-limited lifespan beyond which they must either be renewed or allowed to lapse.
As people’s digital lives grow more complex and the number of communications devices and services used at home and work on a daily basis continues to increase, the ratio of target devices and services accessed to warrants issued will continue to increase. To illustrate this with a hypothetical example:
a single warrant targets 5 individuals;
each individual subscribes to an average of eight different communications services provided by up to eight different companies: a landline phone line, a mobile phone, two email accounts, two social networking accounts and two “cloud”; storage accounts; and
each individual owns, on average, two communications devices fitted with a SIM card (a smartphone and a tablet) in addition to a landline phone and a laptop.
In the hypothetical example above, that one warrant could therefore be recorded as more than 100 separate instances of agency and authority access to individual services on individual devices used by individual subscribers.
That means that the number of warrants listed in the Vodafone report, and collected in the Guardian table mentioned above, is likely to be a significant underestimate of the total number of acts of surveillance being conducted.
Direct access, as revealed by Vodafone, not only allows governments real-time access to enormous quantities of private communications data, but does so in a way that hides the fact that the interception is taking place at all, even to the companies involved. As Vodafone notes, introducing the requirement for a warrant for all such interception would make it much easier for companies to resist, alert the public to the sheer scale of the surveillance being carried upon them, and probably act as a natural brake on governments. Direct access to the network represents a huge exacerbation of the dangers of government surveillance: it is simply too easy to “collect it all.” Vodafone’s disclosure report is an important step towards changing that; the “other telecoms groups” mentioned above should now follow suit by issuing their own.
In The Guardian piece referenced above there’s also this information-
In Albania, Egypt, Hungary, India, Malta, Qatar, Romania, South Africa and Turkey, it is unlawful to disclose any information related to wiretapping or interception of the content of phone calls and messages including whether such capabilities exist.
Which I think serves as an introduction to this from Marcy Wheeler-
Those Cable Landings Chelsea Manning Didn’t Leak
Published June 4, 2014
While the BT/Vodaphone details are worth clicking through to read, I’m particularly interested in the focus on the base in Oman. (See an interactive map of the cable landings here.)
The Brits would have you believe – and I have no reason to doubt them – that this cable landing in Oman is one of the key points in their surveillance infrastructure.
I raise this because of a cable listing the globe’s critical infrastructure – and fearmongering surrounding it – that Chelsea Manning leaked to Wikileaks. As I noted at the time, while the cable lists a slew of cable landings as critical infrastructure sites – including the Hibernia Atlantic undersea cable landing in Dublin, which gets mentioned in the Register story – it does not list a single cable landing site in the Middle East.
Note, Bahamas’ telecom, which recent reporting has also noted is critical to NSA’s spying, also gets no mention.
That’s not surprising in the least. The cable (and the list) is classified Secret. NSA and GCHQ’s prime collection points are (as the Register notes) classified several levels above Top Secret.
And while the list provided some indication of what sites were significant by their absence, it’s likely that the sites that were listed were the relatively unimportant sites.
At trial, Manning’s lawyers repeatedly point out that she had chosen not to leak stuff from JWICS, which would be classified at a higher level. The stuff she leaked, which she got on SIPRNET, was by definition less sensitive stuff.
I don’t mean to suggest this reflects on the relative value of what either Edward Snowden or Chelsea Manning leaked. I think it is a good indication, though, of how unfounded a lot of the fear mongering surrounding this particular leaked cable was.
Jun 06 2014
“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.
Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.
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The scale of the surveillance industrial complex turned out to be so vast that even the NSA couldn’t comprehend all the rules it was breaking. One year later, we can finally examine not just the code-named programs but the future of information itself
America’s first real debate about the 21st century surveillance state began one year ago. There had, of course, been no previous shortage of hearings, op-eds and panels mulling the appropriate “balance between privacy and security” in the post-9/11 era. But for the masses who lacked a security clearance, these had the character of a middle school playground conversation about sex – a largely speculative discussion among participants who’d learned a few of the key terms, but with only the vaguest sense of the reality they described. Secrecy meant abstraction, and in a conflict between abstract fears and the all-too-visible horror of a burning skyscraper, there could be little question which would prevail. The panoptic infrastructure of surveillance developed well out of public view.
A more meaningfully informed public debate finally became possible via a series of unprecedented disclosures about the global surveillance apparatus operated by the National Security Agency – disclosures for which the word “leak” seems almost preposterously inadequate. It was a torrent of information, and it gave even the most dedicated newshounds a glimmer of what intelligence officials mean when they complain about “drinking from the fire hose” of planet-spanning communications networks.
New York Times Editorial Board: The Rush to Demonize Sgt. Bergdahl
Four months ago, Senator John McCain said he would support the exchange of five hard-core Taliban leaders for the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. “I would support,” he told CNN. “Obviously I’d have to know the details, but I would support ways of bringing him home and if exchange was one of them I think that would be something I think we should seriously consider.”
But the instant the Obama administration actually made that trade, Mr. McCain, as he has so often in the past, switched positions for maximum political advantage. “I would not have made this deal,” he said a few days ago. Suddenly the prisoner exchange is “troubling” and “poses a great threat” to service members. Hearings must be held, he said, and sharp questions asked.
This hypocrisy now pervades the Republican Party and the conservative movement, and has even infected several fearful Democrats. When they could use Sergeant Bergdahl’s captivity as a cudgel against the administration, they eagerly did so, loudly and in great numbers. And the moment they could use his release to make President Obama look weak on terrorism or simply incompetent, they reversed direction without a moment’s hesitation to jump aboard the new bandwagon.
Maybe it’s me, but the predictable right-wing cries of outrage over the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rules on carbon seem oddly muted and unfocused. I mean, these are the people who managed to create national outrage over nonexistent death panels. Now the Obama administration is doing something that really will impose at least some pain on some people. Where are the eye-catching fake horror stories?
For what it’s worth, however, the attacks on the new rules mainly involve the three C’s: conspiracy, cost and China. That is, right-wingers claim that there isn’t any global warming, that it’s all a hoax promulgated by thousands of scientists around the world; that taking action to limit greenhouse gas emissions would devastate the economy; and that, anyway, U.S. policy can’t accomplish anything because China will just go on spewing stuff into the atmosphere.
I don’t want to say much about the conspiracy theorizing, except to point out that any attempt to make sense of current American politics must take into account this particular indicator of the Republican Party’s descent into madness. There is, however, a lot to say about both the cost and China issues.
Richard (RJ) Eskow: Obama Could Appoint a ‘People’s Fed’ Board — and Transform the Economy
The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve was created to represent the economic sectors and portions of our population most directly affected by the central bank’s actions. Instead it’s comprised almost entirely of economists and lawyers who are associated with Northeastern institutions and the Washington, D.C., political class.
With the current vacancies on the Board, President Obama has a chance to change that. He has an opportunity to shift the Fed’s direction in a way that would be both economically transformative and politically popular. He has an opportunity to make the central bank an institution which reflects and serves the people who created it.
It’s also what the law requires.
Mary Bottari and Jay Riestenberg: Who Is Behind the National Right to Work Committee and Its Anti-Union Crusade?
As the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2014 session comes to a close, one of the major cases left for a decision is Harris vs. Quinn, which could affect millions of public sector workers in the United States.
The case originates in Illinois, where home health care workers have been successfully organized by public sector unions. Now, a small group of these workers, represented by lawyers from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, have sued and their lawyers contend that the agency fees, or the fair share dues that even non-union members of a bargaining unit are required to pay to unions that bargain for higher wages on their behalf, violate the First Amendment. Agency fees are barred in so-called “right to work” states, which have much less unionization and lower wages and benefits.
Robert Reich: Seattle is Right
By raising its minimum wage to $15, Seattle is leading a long-overdue movement toward a living wage. Most minimum wage workers aren’t teenagers these days. They’re major breadwinners who need a higher minimum wage in order to keep their families out of poverty.
Across America, the ranks of the working poor are growing. While low-paying industries such as retail and food preparation accounted for 22 percent of the jobs lost in the Great Recession, they’ve generated 44 percent of the jobs added since then, according to a recent report from the National Employment Law Project. Last February, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that raising the national minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 would lift 900,000 people out of poverty.
Seattle estimates almost a fourth of its workers now earn below $15 an hour. That translates into about $31,000 a year for a full-time worker. In a high-cost city like Seattle, that’s barely enough to support a family.
Jun 06 2014
Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when
we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.
This Day in History
Jun 06 2014
This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.
Find the past “On This Day in History” here.
Click on image to enlarge
June 6 is the 157th day of the year (158th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 208 days remaining until the end of the year.
On this day in 1933, eager motorists park their automobiles on the grounds of Park-In Theaters, the first-ever drive-in movie theater, located on Crescent Boulevard in Camden, New Jersey.
The drive-in theater was the creation of Camden, New Jersey, chemical company magnate Richard M. Hollingshead, Jr., whose family owned and operated the R.M. Hollingshead Corporation chemical plant in Camden. In 1932, Hollingshead conducted outdoor theater tests in his driveway at 212 Thomas Avenue in Riverton. After nailing a screen to trees in his backyard, he set a 1928 Kodak projector on the hood of his car and put a radio behind the screen, testing different sound levels with his car windows down and up. Blocks under vehicles in the driveway enabled him to determine the size and spacing of ramps so all automobiles could have a clear view of the screen. Following these experiments, he applied August 6, 1932, for a patent of his invention, and he was given U.S. Patent 1,909,537 on May 16, 1933. That patent was declared invalid 17 years later by the Delaware District Court.
Hollingshead’s drive-in opened in New Jersey June 6, 1933, on Admiral Wilson Boulevard at the Airport Circle in Pennsauken, a short distance from Cooper River Park. It offered 500 slots and a 40 by 50 ft (12 by 15 m) screen. He advertised his drive-in theater with the slogan, “The whole family is welcome, regardless of how noisy the children are.” (The first film shown was the Adolphe Menjou film Wife Beware.) The facility only operated three years, but during that time the concept caught on in other states. The April 15, 1934, opening of Shankweiler’s Auto Park in Orefield, Pennsylvania, was followed by Galveston’s Drive-In Short Reel Theater (July 5, 1934), the Pico in Los Angeles (September 9, 1934) and the Weymouth Drive-In Theatre in Weymouth, Massachusetts (May 6, 1936). In 1937, three more opened in Ohio, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, with another 12 during 1938 and 1939 in California, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Texas and Virginia. Michigan’s first drive-in was the Eastside, which opened May 26, 1938, in Harper Woods near Detroit.
Early drive-in theaters had to deal with noise pollution issues. The original Hollingshead drive-in had speakers installed on the tower itself which caused a sound delay affecting patrons at the rear of the drive-in’s field. Attempts at outdoor speakers next to the vehicle did not produce satisfactory results. In 1941, RCA introduced in-car speakers with individual volume controls which solved the noise pollution issue and provided satisfactory sound to drive-in patrons.