A Conversation on Privacy With Edward Snowden, Noam Chomsky, and Glenn Greenwald Alex Emmons, The Intercept NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden joined MIT professor Noam Chomsky and The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald on Friday for a discussion on privacy rights hosted by the University of Arizona College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. The panel was moderated by Nuala …
Mar 31 2016
Mar 14 2016
President Barack Obama became the first president to address the annual technology and music festival, South by South West (SXSW), in Austin, Texas. Without mentioning the FBI’s battle with Apple over access to an encrypted i-Phone, his attempt at “healing the rift” between the tech industry and the government fell more than flat and he …
Aug 28 2015
The hacking of the “infidelity” web site Ashley Madison and the publishing of its member list set off a firestorm of curiosity here in puritanical USA and may even have caused a couple of suicides. But, truthfully, is this anyone’s business? And just who has this hurt?
Email from a Married, Female Ashley Madison User
By Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept
Ever since I wrote on Thursday about the Ashley Madison hack and resulting reactions and consequences, I’ve heard from dozens of people who used the site. They offer a remarkably wide range of reasons for having done so. I’m posting below one email I received that I find particularly illuminating, which I very lightly edited to correct a few obvious typographical errors:
Thank you for the kindness and humanity you have manifested to those of us whose data is now a source of public mockery and shame on AM.
I am female, hold a job with a lot of responsibility, have three kids, one with special needs, and a husband with whom I have not been intimate for several years due to his cancer treatments.
I also used to write about marriage law policy, encouraging traditional marriage for the good of children. My institution has a morality clause in all contracts.
Mine is a loveless, sexless, parenting marriage. I will care for my husband if his cancer spreads, we manage good will for the sake of the children, but we cannot talk about my emotional or sexual needs without him fixating on his death and crying.
I went on AM out of loneliness and despair, and found friendship, both male and female, with others trapped in terrible marriages trying to do right by their children.
My experiences have led me to soften my views of marriage as my own marriage is a deeply humbling, painful longterm commitment.
I expect to be ridiculed by colleagues, to lose my job, and to be publicly shamed, especially as a hypocrite. Yes, I used a credit card. In my case, I will get no sympathy from the right or the left as I do not fit into either of their simplistic paradigms.
I have received email from Trustify that I have been searched, and it is soliciting me to purchase its services. And I am receiving lots of spam with racy headings.
That is my story. When my outing happens, I suppose I might as well take a stand for those who are trapped in bad marriages. Many of us are doing the best we can, trying in our own imperfect way to cope with alienation, lovelessness, and physical deprivation.
I do not want to hurt my children or husband. I truly wish I had a good one and I want happy marriages for others. I did what I did trying to cope. Maybe it was a bad idea but again, I have met some very decent people on AM, some of whom are now dear friends.
Thank you again.
As I argued last week, even for the most simplistic, worst-case-scenario, cartoon-villain depictions of the Ashley Madison user – a spouse who selfishly seeks hedonistic pleasure with indifference toward his or her own marital vows and by deceiving the spouse – that’s nobody’s business other than those who are parties to that marriage or, perhaps, their family members and close friends. But as the fallout begins from this leak, as people’s careers and reputations begin to be ruined, as unconfirmed reports emerge that some users have committed suicide, it’s worth remembering that the reality is often far more complex than the smug moralizers suggest.
Who is anyone to judge?
May 21 2014
“No place to hide”
Chris Hayes talks with Glenn Greenwald about his new book and new NSA revelations from his book “No Place to Hide.”
Hating on Glenn Greenwald
Chris Hayes gets journalist Glenn Greenwald to open up about his tendency alienate liberals.
May 20 2014
President Barack Obama has said that he wanted to reform how the NSA collects and stores metadata. What he says and what he does, again, are two different things.
The “Consult with Congress” Stage of USA Freedumb
By Marcy Wheeler, emptywheel
Remember how, in the days after President Obama announced his principles for reforming the dragnet, his Senior Administration Official pretended that any efforts to make the scope of the program worse would come from Congress? [..]
Well, it looks like the Administration isn’t so passive after all. They’re working with House leadership to gut the bill.
TROUBLE FOR USA FREEDOM? – House leadership and Obama administration officials met with committee members Sunday to negotiate changes to key NSA reform legislation, parting late in the evening without reaching a final resolution, said a congressional staffer close to the process. Still, it seems clear that the USA FREEDOM Act, approved by the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees little more than a week ago, will not reach the House floor intact. Some passages have been watered down already, the staffer acknowledged, declining to go into specifics. The bill is set for “possible consideration” this week, according to the schedule circulated by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s office.
Word of the talks caused some of the bill’s most ardent privacy and civil liberties backers to cry foul and say they could withdraw support. Areas of concern to watchdogs include possible removal of transparency language allowing companies to tell their customers about the broad numbers of lawful intercept requests they receive; and a debate on whether the search terms used by the NSA to search communications records should be narrowly defined in statute.
“The version we fear could now be negotiated in secret and introduced on the House floor may not move us forward on NSA reform,” said human rights organization Access. “I am gravely disappointed if the House leadership and the administration chose to disrupt the hard-fought compromise that so many of us were pleased to support just two weeks ago,” said Kevin Bankston, policy director of the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute.
And while it’s not clear these secret changes would broaden the scope outside of counterterrorism (though I think that’s possible already), it does seem clear the Administration is pushing for these changes because the already weak bill is too strong for them.
Congress is no better.
Advocates fear NSA bill is being gutted
By Kate Tummarello, The Hill
To win the support of NSA defenders, lawmakers abandoned some reform provisions in Sensenbrenner’s original bill. One of the major changes was dropping the appointment of a constitutional advocate to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which approves the NSA’s spying requests, and substituting it for a panel of experts.
The bill was also stripped of language that would have allowed tech companies to publish more specific information about the number and types of government requests for user data they receive.
During Judiciary consideration, an amendment to allow less specific reporting was added back into the bill, but some worry that provision is in danger now because the administration thinks it’s already reached a deal that allows tech companies to publish more information about the NSA requests.
While pro-reform advocacy groups and members hailed the House bill as a positive first step, many lamented the revisions and said the legislation will be in trouble on the floor if it undergoes further changes.
A Deep Dive into the House’s Version of Narrow NSA Reform: The New USA Freedom Act
By Mark Jaycox, Electronic Freedom Foundation
Here’s how the House version of the USA Freedom Act compares to the Senate’s version, what the new House version of the USA Freedom Act does, and what it sorely lacks.
The Senate’s Version of USA Freedom Act
As we mentioned when the original USA Freedom Act was first introduced, it proposed changes to several NSA activities and limited the bulk collection of all Americans’ calling records. It would fix a key problem with Section 702 (.pdf) of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act (FISAA), bring more transparency to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court (FISA court), and introduce a special advocate to champion civil liberties in the FISA court.
The House’s New Version of the USA Freedom Act:
The new USA Freedom Act concentrates on prohibiting the collection of all Americans’ calling records using Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Other sections of the bill would allow the FISA Court to assign amici, or non-parties who can brief issues before the court; create new government reports about the spying powers; and create new company reports detailing how many accounts and customers are affected by FISA Court orders.
First and foremost, the bill introduces a different conceptual approach to prohibiting mass spying under Section 215. Unlike the Senate version, which tries to stop the mass collection of calling records by mandating that the records sought “pertain to” an agent of a foreign power or their activities-an approach that we’ve worried about because “pertains to” and “relevant” are so similar-the House version mandates that a “specific selection term” (currently defined as uniquely describing a person, entity, or account) be the “basis for the production” of the records. The overall language may be stronger than in the old USA Freedom Act, but “specific selection term” must be further defined as “entity” could be construed expansively. After the order is filed, the government can obtain up to “two hops“-which may be too expansive for many investigations-from the selection term.
The bill also tries to tighten the “minimization procedures” that apply to government collection of records using Section 215 and other spying authorities like national security letters and the FISA Pen Register/Trap and Trace (PR/TT) provision. But the procedures only touch the FBI, not other agencies-like the NSA-that may be obtaining records using Section 215. In addition, the House version uses language we’ve seen in Section 702’s minimization procedures. If you remember, those procedures are horrendous. They allow for the overcollection, overretention, and oversharing of Americans’ communications “mistakenly” collected. The House must draft stronger minimization language to completely ensure improper information about untargeted users is not collected. For instance, simply inserting the word “acquisition” or “collection” would help.
End the NSA’s Mass Spying
Tell Congress: Support the USA FREEDOM Act. Stop the FISA Improvements Act & Other Fake Reforms.
There’s a powerful reform proposal moving through Congress. H.R. 3361, the House’s version of the USA FREEDOM Act, would limit bulk collection of phone records and add transparency to the egregious NSA spying.
If it passes, the USA FREEDOM Act will be the most meaningful reform of government surveillance in decades. While the USA FREEDOM Act doesn’t address every issue with NSA surveillance, it’s a powerful first step.
But certain members of Congress don’t want reform. Representatives Mike Rogers and Dutch Ruppersberger have introduced a bill that attempts to make NSA spying worse. And Senator Dianne Feinstein is promoting the FISA Improvements Act, a bill posing as reform that attempts to legalize the worst aspects of NSA surveillance.
We can’t let NSA apologists preserve the status quo. Demand real reform. Stop mass spying.
May 16 2014
This administration, especially the Department of Justice really hates your Fourth Amendment rights and is doing everything in its power to narrow your right to privacy as much as it can.
DOJ Says Americans Have No 4th Amendment Protections At All When They Communicate With Foreigners
by Make Masnick, Techdirt
We’ve already questioned if it’s really true that the 4th Amendment doesn’t apply to foreigners (the Amendment refers to “people” not “citizens”). But in some new filings by the DOJ, the US government appears to take its “no 4th Amendment protections for foreigners” to absurd new levels. It says, quite clearly, that because foreigners have no 4th Amendment protections it means that any Americans lose their 4th Amendment protections when communicating with foreigners. They’re using a very twisted understanding of the (already troubling) third party doctrine to do this. As you may recall, after lying to the Supreme Court, the Justice Department said that it would start informing defendants if warrantless collection of information under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act (FAA) was used in the investigation against them.
Last October, it finally started alerting some defendants, leading courts to halt proceedings and re-evaluate. As two of those cases have moved forward, the DOJ is trying to defend those cases, and one way it’s doing so is to flat out say that Americans have no 4th Amendment protections when talking to foreigners.
The Supreme Court has long held that when one person voluntarily discloses information to another, the first person loses any cognizable interest under the Fourth Amendment in what the second person does with the information. . . . For Fourth Amendment purposes, the same principle applies whether the recipient intentionally makes the information public or stores it in a place subject to a government search. Thus, once a non-U.S. person located outside the United States receives information, the sender loses any cognizable Fourth Amendment rights with respect to that information. That is true even if the sender is a U.S. person protected by the Fourth Amendment, because he assumes the risk that the foreign recipient will give the information to others, leave the information freely accessible to others, or that the U.S. government (or a foreign government) will obtain the information.
This argument is questionable on so many levels. First, it’s already relying on the questionable third party doctrine, but it seems to go much further, by then arguing that merely providing information to a foreign person means that it’s okay for the US government to snoop on it without a warrant.
The official US position on the NSA is still unlimited eavesdropping power
by Jameel Jaffer, the ACLU at The Guardian
One year after Snowden, the government is defending – in not-so-plain sight – the ‘paramount’ power to spy on every call and email between you and your friends abroad
The government’s argument is not simply that the NSA has broad authority to monitor Americans’ international communications. The US government is arguing that the NSA’s authority is unlimited in this respect. If the government is right, nothing in the Constitution bars the NSA from monitoring a phone call between a journalist in New York City and his source in London. For that matter, nothing bars the NSA from monitoring every call and email between Americans in the United States and their non-American friends, relatives, and colleagues overseas.
In the government’s view, there is no need to ask whether the 2008 law violates Americans’ privacy rights, because in this context Americans have no rights to be violated.
Marcy Wheeler at emptywheel points out that former Sen Russ Feingold warned us back in 2008 about the abuses that could occur under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act (FAA).
May 13 2014
Journalist, author and constitutional lawyer Glenn Greenwald’s new book “No Place To Hide” was released this week and Glenn has been on the interview circuit discussing the book, Edward Snowden and the next set of revelations about the NSA spying. In an interview with GQ magazine, he talks about what a whirlwind this last year has been as the hottest story in the world has unfolded:
Glenn Greenwald is trying to lose fifteen pounds. “Um, it’s been a little crazy these past nine months,” he says. “And I will eat French fries or potato chips if they’re in front of me.” On his porch, perched on a jungle mountaintop in Rio, the morning is fresh. Greenwald, in board shorts and a collared short-sleeve shirt, has done his daily hour’s worth of yoga and attached himself to one of his five laptops as his dozen dogs yap and wag to begin the day’s circus in his monkey-and-macaw paradise.
To put it simply, Greenwald has had one hell of a dizzying run. The Bourne plotline is familiar now: In late 2012, a shady contact calling himself Cincinnatus reached out via e-mail with the urgent desire to reveal some top-secret documents. As a blogger, author, and relentless commentator on all things related to the NSA, Greenwald had been here before. He figured it was a setup, or nut job, and disregarded the message. The source then contacted Greenwald’s friend Laura Poitras, an Academy Award-nominated documentary filmmaker, and sent along a sample of encrypted documents. Poitras got in touch with Greenwald immediately: Not only did this seem like a potential jackpot, she said, but Cincinnatus wouldn’t go ahead until Greenwald had been looped in.
Soon, per the source’s instructions, they were on a plane to Hong Kong. Greenwald and Poitras did exactly as they were told, showing up at the Mira hotel at 10:20 a.m. on June 3, in front of a giant plastic alligator, looking for a man holding a Rubik’s Cube. “I thought he would be a 60-year-old senior NSA guy,” says Greenwald. And then here’s this pale, stringbeany kid with glasses, “looking all of twentysomething.” This, of course, was the 29-year-old NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Once they retired to his hotel room, he turned over an estimated tens of thousands of documents, the vast majority of them classified “Top Secret,” comprising arguably the biggest leak of classified material in U.S. history. After days of intensive work with Greenwald and Poitras, Snowden fled-just minutes ahead of the press-only to reappear in Moscow.
This left Greenwald with the most exhilarating and daunting task of his career: to figure out how to curate and publish the vast Snowden archive in his Brazilian self-exile. Once he began, his work triggered an avalanche of articles that branded him a hero, a traitor, a collaborator. In one fell swoop, he had piqued and scandalized and provoked the world into a deeper debate about not just surveillance and privacy but power and truth. The odyssey eventually led him from The Guardian, where the first articles appeared revealing the NSA’s secret surveillance of Verizon records, to his central position in Pierre Omidyar’s $250 million muckraking gambit known as First Look Media and The Intercept, where Greenwald is figurehead, main attraction, and blogitor-in-chief.
The Guardian has a excerpt from the book describing the first hectic days following the first meeting with Mr.Snowden in Hong Kong:
On Thursday 6 June 2013, our fifth day in Hong Kong, I went to Edward Snowden’s hotel room and he immediately said he had news that was “a bit alarming”. An internet-connected security device at the home he shared with his longtime girlfriend in Hawaii had detected that two people from the NSA – a human-resources person and an NSA “police officer” – had come to their house searching for him.
Snowden was almost certain this meant that the NSA had identified him as the likely source of the leaks, but I was sceptical. “If they thought you did this, they’d send hordes of FBI agents with a search warrant and probably Swat teams, not a single NSA officer and a human-resources person.” I figured this was just an automatic and routine inquiry, triggered when an NSA employee goes absent for a few weeks without explanation. But Snowden suggested that perhaps they were being purposely low-key to avoid drawing media attention or setting off an effort to suppress evidence.
Whatever the news meant, it underscored the need for Laura Poitras – the film-maker who was collaborating with me on the story – and I to quickly prepare our article and video unveiling Snowden as the source of the disclosures. We were determined that the world would first hear about Snowden, his actions and his motives, from Snowden himself, not through a demonisation campaign spread by the US government while he was in hiding or in custody and unable to speak for himself.
Our plan was to publish two more articles on the NSA files in the Guardian and then release a long piece on Snowden himself, accompanied by a videotaped interview, and a printed Q&A with him.
Poitras had spent the previous 48 hours editing the footage from my first interview with Snowden, but she said it was too detailed, lengthy, and fragmented to use. She wanted to film a new interview right away; one that was more concise and focused, and wrote a list of 20 or so specific questions for me to ask him. I added several of my own as Poitras set up her camera and directed us where to sit.
Glenn joined Democracy Now!‘s Amy Goodman to discuss the book in the first part of a two day interview.
Transcript can be read here
Transcript can be read here
May 07 2014
Last weekend the journalist and constitutional lawyer Glenn Greenwald teamed up with Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian to debate state surveillance with former NSA and CIA chief Michael Hayden and Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz. Greenwald and Ohanian will argued against the motion “be it resolved state surveillance is a legitimate defense of our freedoms.” The event was organized by Munk Debates and held in Toronto, Canada.
Glenn just devastated Hayden and Dershowitz.
Apr 14 2014
Investigative journalists Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras returned to the United States on Friday for the first time since exposing the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance operations. They arrived in New York City to accept the Polk Award for national security reporting.
Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras of The Guardian became a story of their own amid speculation they could be arrested upon arriving at Kennedy Airport. They were instead confronted by only reporters and photographers before fighting through traffic en route to a midtown Manhattan hotel to receive a George Polk Award for national security reporting.
In remarks before an audience of other journalists and editors, the pair credited the courage of Snowden, the former NSA contractor who leaked the information for their story.
“This award is really for Edward Snowden,” Poitras said.
Greenwald said, “I hope that as journalists we realize not only the importance of defending our own rights, but also those of our sources like Edward Snowden.”
The pair shared the award with The Guardian’s Ewen MacAskill and Barton Gellman, who has led The Washington Post’s reporting on National Security Agency surveillance. Revelations about the spy programs were first published in the two newspapers in June.
In an announcement this afternoon, the Pulitzer Prize committee has awarded the Pulitzer Prize for public service to The Washington Post and the Guardian for their stories based on National Security Agency documents leaked by the former government contractor Edward J. Snowden. The citation did not mention Mr. Greenwald, Ms. Poitras or Mr. Gerlman.
Full transcript can be read here
LAURA POITRAS: So, I’m really incredibly honored to be here and thankful to the Polk committee for giving me a really good excuse to come home. This is the first time I’ve been home since I boarded a plane with Glenn and Ewen to go to Hong Kong, and so it’s really spectacular to be here. And it’s also quite disorienting. Last May, you know, the field, what we looked at, was a lot of uncertainty, risk, concern for everyone, and so it’s really extraordinary to be here and receive this award. But I think that it’s important also that we remember that when we actually do this reporting, the enormous risks that journalists take on and especially that sources take on, and in the case of Snowden, putting his life on the line, literally, to share this information to the public, not just the American public, but to the public internationally. [..]
GLENN GREENWALD: First of all, thank you so much to the Polk committee and Long Island University for this award. The reporting that we’ve done has received a lot of support and a lot of praise and the like, but it’s also received some very intense criticism, primarily in the United States and the U.K. And so, to be honored and recognized by our journalistic colleagues this way-speaking for myself, at least-means a great deal. I’m also really honored to be able to share the award with the people that I call my journalistic colleagues, who are on stage here with me, the people that James Clapper calls “accomplices.” You know, it really is true that the story could not have been told without numerous people, committed to telling it, involved every step of the way. [..]
And then, finally, you know, I think journalism in general is impossible without brave sources. I know our journalism, in particular, would have been impossible without the incredible courage of Edward Snowden. And it’s really remarkable that the reporting that we’ve done has won all sorts of awards, not just in the United States, but around the world, and he, in particular, has received immense support, incredible amounts of praise from countries all over the world and all sorts of awards, and the fact that for the act of bringing to the world’s attention this system of mass surveillance that had been constructed in the dark, he’s now threatened with literally decades in prison, probably the rest of his life, as a result of what the United States government is doing, I think, is really odious and unacceptable. And I hope that, as journalists, we realize how important it is not only to defend our own rights, but also those of our sources like Edward Snowden. And I think each one of these awards just provides further vindication that what he did in coming forward was absolutely the right thing to do and merits gratitude, and not indictments and decades in prison. Thanks very much.