Monthly Archives: February 2015

Just Views Friday: Mass Surveillance: Snowden, WikiLeaks, and More…

Friday, February 13, 2015 at 7:20 pm

We’ll watch Democracy Now interview Laura Poitras and watch clips from her Oscar-nominated, documentary Citizenfour. In the film, Poitras, journalist Glenn Greenwald, and intelligence reporter Ewen MacAskill interviewed Edward Snowden. Snowden, a former National Security Agency (NSA) intelligence analyst, revealed the extent of US. Government mass surveillance practices. Our second clip will be an update on Barrett Brown. Brown is a jailed journalist and activist who has read, analyzed, and reported on private intelligence firm documents uncovered by WikiLeaks and Anonymous. For more

Join us for film and discussion of rise of mass surveillance and loss of privacy over the last four decades. We’ll discuss technology and policy behind phone and internet mass surveillance; we’ll consider the huge cost increases and invasiveness of spy agency activities, role of whistleblowers and freedom of the press, the war on terror, and how to defend our civil liberties. We encourage you to join us as there’s plenty to talk about whether you’ve seen Citizenfour or are thinking of doing so. We welcome audience participation and all points of view.

Mass surveillance is the intricate surveillance of an entire or a substantial fraction of a population in the name of terrorism. Her eis the OED definition of the word.

terrorism, n.

from French terrorisme system of the ‘Terror’ (see terror n. 3) during the French Revolution (1794), violent measures taken in order to come to political power or to maintain a government (1795), (in extended use) intolerant attitude of the partisans of certain ideologies (a1828) < classical Latin terror terror n. + French -isme -ism suffix. Compare Spanish terrorismo (1799), Italian terrorismo (1794), German Terrorismus (1796), all originally after French. Compare slightly earlier

1. Government by intimidation as directed and carried out by the party in power in France during the Revolution of 1789–94; the system of the ‘Terror’ (1793–4)

2a. gen. The unofficial or unauthorized use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims; (originally) such practices used by a government or ruling group (freq. through paramilitary or informal armed groups) in order to maintain its control over a population; (now usually) such practices used by a clandestine or expatriate organization as a means of furthering its aims.

2b. In extended or weakened use: the instilling of fear or terror; intimidation, coercion, bullying.

Mass surveillance

This brief time-line of U.S. Mass surveillance is based on the wonderful EFF time-line located here. I have expanded it with more information from other sources including wikipedia and cryptome.


“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

—The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution

1917 – 1918

Cipher Bureau and Military Intelligence Branch, Section 8 (MI-8) Military Intelligence.

1919 – 1929

The Cipher Bureau was the United States’ first peacetime cryptanalytic organization,


All cryptologic activities of the U.S. Government were centralized under a national organization called the Armed Forces Security Agency (AFSA).


President Truman Establishes the National Security Agency (NSA)

1956 – 1971

COINTELPRO (an acronym for COunter INTELligence PROgram) was a series of covert, and at times illegal, projects conducted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) aimed at surveying, infiltrating, discrediting, and disrupting domestic political organizations


ECHELON, originally a code-name, is now used in global media and in popular culture to describe a signals intelligence (SIGINT) collection and analysis network operated on behalf of the five signatory nations to the UKUSA Security Agreement. Today it is a global system for the interception of private and commercial communications

1967 – 1973

Project MINARET was a sister project to Project SHAMROCK operated by the National Security Agency (NSA), which, after intercepting electronic communications that contained the names of predesignated US citizens, passed them to other government law enforcement and intelligence organizations. Intercepted messages were disseminated to the FBI, CIA, Secret Service, Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD), and the Department of Defense.
The names were on “watch lists” of American citizens, generated by Executive Branch law enforcement and intelligence agencies, to detect communications involving the listed individuals. There was no judicial oversight, and the project had no warrants for interception.

Project SHAMROCK, considered to be the sister project for Project MINARET, was an espionage exercise, started in August 1945 that involved the accumulation of all telegraphic data entering into or exiting from the United States. The Armed Forces Security Agency (AFSA) and its successor NSA were given direct access to daily microfilm copies of all incoming, outgoing, and transiting telegrams via the Western Union and its associates RCA and ITT. NSA did the operational interception, and, if information that would be of interest to other intelligence agencies was found, the material was passed to them. “Intercepted messages were disseminated to the FBI, CIA, Secret Service, Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD), and the Department of Defense.” No court authorized the operation and there were no warrants.


United States v. U.S. District Court, 407 U.S. 297 (1972), also known as the Keith case, was a landmark United States Supreme Court decision that upheld, in a unanimous 8-0 ruling, the requirements of the Fourth Amendment in cases of domestic surveillance targeting a domestic threat.


Supreme Court Rules Warrants Are Required for Domestic Intelligence Surveillance


Senate “Church Committee” Investigation Uncovers Illegal Domestic Spying by NSA, Recommends Reforms


Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Signed Into Law, Protecting Americans from Domestic Spying


  1. Sep. 14 With GWB’s Authorization, NSA Director General Michael Hayden Begins Targeting
  2. Oct. 4 President Bush Signs Order Beginning NSA’s Domestic Spying Program. NSA Believes Authorization Allowed It to Spy on US Phone Calls and Emails Without Warrant.
  3. Oct. 5 Attorney General Told to “Just…Sign It”
  4. The USA PATRIOT Act, an Act of Congress that was signed into law by George W. Bush on October 26, 2001.
  5. Section 215 of the Patriot Act authorizes the government to obtain “any tangible thing” relevant to a terrorism investigation, even if there is no showing that the “thing” pertains to suspected terrorists or terrorist activities.


  1. AT&T Technician Discovers NSA Is Working Inside AT&T Facilities
  2. Telecommunications Companies Formally Enter Voluntarily Agreements with US to Give Data to NSA


  1. President Bush Confirms Existence of NSA Spying


  1. AT&T Whistleblower Mark Klein Comes to EFF With Evidence of AT&T’s Involvement in NSA Spying
  2. NSA Collecting All Americans’ Phone Calls for Database
  3. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Okays Dragnet Surveillance of Telephony Metadata for First Time Ever
  4. FISA Court Approvies First Section 215 (Patriot Act) Order Authorizing Mass Collection of Calling Records
  5. Wikileaks published its first document a decision to assassinate government officials signed by Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys.


  1. Protect America Act Passed by House and Senate, Expands President’s Wiretapping Abilities
  2. Senator Obama Promises Strong Opposition to FISA’s Retroactive Immunity for Telecommunications Companies
  3. Wikileaks releases March 2003 copy of Standard Operating Procedures for Camp Delta detailing the protocol of the U.S. Army at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.


  1. The House of Representatives passes the FISA Amendments Act of 2008—caves on telecom immunity
  2. Congress Passes FISA Amendments Act, Giving Telecom Companies Immunity and Expanding Wiretapping Powers
  3. ACLU Files Lawsuit Challenging Constitutionality of FISA Amendments Act


  1. Obama takes office as the 44th U.S. President
  2. Judge Walker dismisses dozens of lawsuits against telecommunication companies for their role in illegal domestic surveillance of American citizens, ruling that the companies had immunity from liability under the controversial FISA Amendments Act.
  3. Unclassified report on President’s Surveillance Program
  4. The FISA Court approves an order renewing the NSA’s mass telephone records collection program.


  1. Judge Walker Dismisses Jewel v. NSA in Northern District of California
  2. WikiLeaks released a secret 32-page U.S. Department of Defense Counterintelligence Analysis Report written in March 2008
  3. EFF files a notice of appeal to the Ninth Circuit as a result of the Northern District Court’s January dismissal.
  4. Federal Judge Rules the Government Illegally Spied on Plaintiffs in Al-Haramain
  5. Federal Judge Awards Plaintiffs in Al-Haramain $2.5 Million After Ruling Government IIlegally Spied on Them


  1. NSA Starts Construction on Massive Data Center in Utah to Hold the World’s Intercepted Communications. The 900,000 SF Utah Data Center, built at a cost of $1.5 billion will USE 1.25 million 4-terabyte hard drives, built into some 5,000 servers.
  2. FISA Court Judge Bates Finds Some of NSA Surveillance Unconstitutional in October 2011 Order.
  3. NSA Stops Internet Metadata Collection, Continues Collection of Internet Content.


  1. Three NSA Whistleblowers Back EFF’s Lawsuit Over Government’s Massive Spying Program.
  2. Citing Privacy Violations, Government Refuses to Estimate How Many Americans Have Been Spied on Under FISA Surveillance
  3. Government Admits NSA Spying Violated Constitution.
  4. April 2012, Edward Snowden began downloading sensitive Western intelligence material while working for the American computer corporation Dell. By the end of the year, Snowden had made his first contact with journalist Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian.

2013 — The Snowden era

  1. June 5 the first media report based on the leaked material, The Guardian exposed a top secret court order showing that the NSA had collected phone records from over 120 million Verizon subscribers.
  2. June 6, 2013, the second media disclosure, the revelation of the PRISM surveillance program (which collects the e-mail, voice, text and video chats of foreigners and an unknown number of Americans from Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Apple and other tech giants)
  3. Taps in to Internet Giants’ Systems to Mine User Data, Secret Files Reveal – Top-Secret Prism Program Claims Direct Access to Servers of Firms Including Google, Apple and Facebook – Companies Deny Any Knowledge of Program in Operation Since 2007 – Obama Orders US to Draw Up Overseas Target List for Cyber-Attacks”.
  4. Secret Court Order Revealing Spying of All US Verizon Calls Leaked
  5. PRISM Program Revealed: NSA Tapping Into Internet Companies’ Systems, Mass Collecting User Data.
  6. Guardian Reveals NSA Tool to Record and Analyze Spying
  7. New York Times Reveals NSA Skype Surveillance called Project Chess
  8. Washington Post Reveals Names of Programs Alleged In EFF Lawsuits
  9. Washington Post Reveals More Information About Government Partnership with Companies
  10. Guardian Reports on Microsoft’s Cooperation with US Government
  11. XKEYSCORE Revealed (involves the mass storage of international Internet metadata—including information about emails, phone calls, log-ins, and other user activity.)
  12. Guardian Reveals Telcos Involved in GCHQ and NSA Spying
  13. Reuters Reports on DEA’s Use of Data Collected by NSA
  14. Reuters Follow up: IRS also Uses Data DEA Receives from NSA
  15. Der Spiegel Reveals NSA Spied on Al Jazeera Corporation
  16. Guardian Reveals How NSA and GCHQ Attack Encryption Standards
  17. Wall Street Journal Reports on “Upstream” Collection–Key Issue in EFF’s NSA Spying Cases
  18. Secret “Black Budget” of Intelligence Community is Released as 56.2 billion in 2013 (NASA’s FY 2013 budget was $16.9 billion for comparison).
  19. New York Times Reveals AT&T Calling Records Database Used by DEA Goes Back 20 Years
  20. Guardian Reveals NSA Sharing Agreement with Israel
  21. New York Times Reports on NSA’s Mapping of Americans’ Social Networks
  22. Guardian Reveals NSA Stores Metadata of Millions of Web Users for up to a Year
  23. New York Times Reveals NSA Tracked Cell-Phone Location of Americans for up to Two Years
  24. The Guardian Reveals NSA’s Ability to Hack Tor. NSA PowerPoint Slide
  25. Washington Post Reveals NSA Collects Americans’ Address Books and Buddy Lists
  26. Washington Post Reveals How NSA Attacks Google and Yahoo!’s Data Centers
  27. New York Times Offers Comprehensive Overview of NSA’s Collections and Programs
  28. CIA Collecting Bulk International Money Transfers Using Patriot Act
  29. Washington Post Reveals How NSA Turns Browser Cookies Into Surveillance Devices
  30. The New York Times, ProPublica, and the Guardian reveal that NSA spied on online video game users. The NSA’s activities include Xbox users, and online video games like World of Warcraft.
  31. Reuters Reports on Secret NSA Contract with Computer Security Company RSA
  32. As part of a series of articles, Der Spiegel reports on an NSA catalogue documenting its spying tools, provides a thorough overview of the devices, and a profile of the NSA’s leading hacking unit called the Office of Tailored Access Operations (TAO).
  33. Guardian Reveals NSA Collects Millions of Text Messages


  1. Guardian Reveals NSA Collects Millions of Text Messages
  2. NSA Spies on Users by Obtaining Information from “Leaky” Mobile Apps
  3. NBC Reveals GCHQ Tapped Into Fiberoptic Cable to Spy on Youtube Users
  4. NBC Reveals GCHQ Used DDOS Attack Against Anonymous
  5. NBC Reveals GCHQ Used Cyber Attacks and Honey Pots Against Targets
  6. The Guardian Reveals GCHQ’s “Optic Nerve” Program
  7. The Intercept publishes leaked documents which contain details about surveillance technology the NSA developed to infect potentially millions of computers worldwide with malware.
  8. New York Times Reveals Secret “Raw Take” and “Large Content FISA” Court Orders
  9. Office of the Director of National Intelligence Responds to First Look Report on NSA Malware
  10. Washington Post Reveals the NSA’s MYSTIC program
  11. The Intercept Reports on the NSA’s Targeting of System Administrators
  12. New York Times Reveals That the NSA Breached Chinese Company Huawei’s Servers
  13. Director of National Intelligence Clapper Confirms NSA Conducted Warrantless Searches of Information Collected Under Section 702
  14. Der Spiegel Reveals That the NSA and GCHQ Infiltrated German Networks and Specfically Targeted Chancellor Angela Merkel
  15. The Intercept Reveals NSA Targeting the Bahamas’ Entire Mobile Network
  16. Washington Post Reports That the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Authorized NSA to Target 193 Countries for Surveillance
  17. New York Times Publishes In-depth Examination of Executive Order 12333 (authorizes FISA)
  18. The Intercept Reveals ICREACH, NSA’s Program That Allows Searching of Metadata by 23 Agencies
  19. Der Spiegel and The Intercept Reveal That NSA and GCHQ Hacked into German Companies in Attempt to Map Entire Internet
  20. The Intercept Reveals Broad Range of Covert Field Activities by the NSA
  21. Der Spiegel Reveals NSA Efforts to Crack Encrypted Internet Communication
  22. FBI Used the Web’s Favorite Hacking Tool to Unmask Tor Users


  1. Guardian Reports that GCHQ Collected Journalists’ Communications and Considered Reporters a Threat to Security

2015-02-13 14_44_38-Global surveillance disclosures (2013–present) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedi