PRISM, Utah, now Credit Cards and data sent to UK

UPDATE – There have been mistakes already as well, innocents were monitored and their transmissions were listened to as well:

The National Security Agency has at times mistakenly intercepted the private email messages and phone calls of Americans who had no link to terrorism, requiring Justice Department officials to report the errors to a secret national security court and destroy the data, according to two former U.S. intelligence officials. (Read the rest here.)

Editor’s Note – It just keeps coming, scandal after scandal, revelation after revelation – all Obama Administration related, all of them, and yet, only this latest episode does he claim knowledge of it. At this rate, Congress will be totally incapable of performing any of its duties beyond investigating Obama scandals.

Do you trust your government now?

Wait…they already are at LEVEL: OVERWHELMED, just like the entire nation now. Saul Alinsky would be so proud, but even the NY Times and Alan Colmes are no longer proud…wait for it, wait for it…here comes the next shoe…

Worse than we thought, government tracked credit card transactions, shared phone records with UK

By Becket Adams – The Blaze

You may want to sit down for this.

It appears that along with online information, the U.S. government has tracked credit card purchases and, in some cases, shared phone data with the U.K., according to The Wall Street Journal and The Daily Beast.

It was revealed earlier this week that the feds have been monitoring Verizon, Sprint Nextel, and AT&T customers and that the National Security Administration had established a massive program, code-named PRISM, that indicates the monitoring of Americans.

Now the Wall Street Journal’s sources claim NSA operations also encompass purchase information from credit-card providers.

“It couldn’t be determined if any of the Internet or credit-card arrangements are ongoing, as are the phone company efforts, or one-shot collection efforts,” the WSJ notes.

What is known at this time, however, is that the NSA has established with credit-card companies the same type of relationship it has established with tech companies. That is, the NSA asks for the data and they get it.

Also, according to The Daily Beast’s Eli Lake, at least “one foreign government has gained access to sensitive data collected by the National Security Agency from U.S. telecommunications companies in dragnet court warrants demanding the secret transfer of U.S. customers’ calling records.”

The collected information, referred to as “metadata,” does not include conversation content or the names of people associated with accounts. It does, however, record when and where calls are made and for how long.

And in a few “discreet cases,” as Lake puts it, “the NSA has shared unedited analysis of these records with its British counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarters.”

Furthermore, in 2010, GCHQ actually gained access to the NSA’s PRISM program, The Guardian reports.

“The documents showed the British generated 197 intelligence reports from access to the system in 2012,” Lake notes.

“With advances in computer science, intelligence services can now mine vast amounts of data collected by telecom companies, Internet service providers, and social-media sites for patterns that can illuminate terrorist networks and help solve crimes,” he adds, citing intelligence officers.

“These metadata … reside in vast hard drives that belong to the NSA. Analysts there can then take a phone number or email address and uncover suspected terrorists’ associates, find their locations, and even learn clues about their possible targets.”

A former senior U.S. intelligence official told The Daily Beast, “My understanding is if the British had a phone number, we might run the number through the database for them and provide them with the results.”

“I do not know of cases where the U.S. government has shared this kind of metadata with the United Kingdom, but I would be surprised if this never happened,” Peter Wood, the CEO of First Base Technologies, said in the same report. “Both countries cooperate very closely on counterterrorism.”

Proof: DHS is monitoring social media, bloggers, and…why?

By Scott W. Winchell

Its official; the Department of Homeland Security did award the HS HODC-10-00080 contract to General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems Division as the Contracting Officer’s Technical Representative (COTR) for DHS. What does that mean?

It means that the DHS project – Media Monitoring Capability Mission – is actually underway as we all suspected. What the project should be called is the “Cover our asses, identify our enemies, and spin baby, spin, capability mission.”

Its similar to the system for data collection that the Obama 2012 Campaign is doing on Facebook now:

Barack Obama‘s re-election team are building a vast digital data operation that for the first time combines a unified database on millions of Americans with the power of Facebook to target individual voters to a degree never achieved before…

For the past nine months a crack team of some of America’s top data wonks has occupied an entire floor of the Prudential building in Chicago devising a digital campaign from the bottom up. The team draws much of its style and inspiration from the corporate sector, with its driving ambition to create a vote-garnering machine that is smooth, unobtrusive and ruthlessly efficient. (Read the rest here.)

MMCM Contract Documents – On December 15, 2010, the contract was awarded. Two links below show documents related to the project:

  1. Raw Story posted the FOIA request fulfillment document here on the actual contract. (Names redacted, 285 pages)
  2. DHS Analysts’s desktop binder that details the project. (40 pages)

What the MMC Mission purports to do:

First – to continually update existing National Situation Summaries (NSS) and International Situation Summaries (ISS) with the most recent, relevant, and actionable open source media information.

Second – to constantly monitor all available open source information with the goal of expeditiously alerting the NOC Watch Team and other key Department personnel of emergent situations.

Third – to receive, process, and distribute media captured by DHS Situational Awareness Teams (DSAT) or other streaming media available to the NOC such as Northern Command’s (NORTHCOM) Full Motion Video (FMV) and via open sources.

What does it mean to the public?

Ostensibly, reading the actual words printed, it sounds like a great way for DHS to stay abreast of the mountains of information available from open sources that should be known by its staff and management. As public servants, its wise to be more conversant in all aspects of all events to make sure that the proper resources are being allocated, dangers are mitigated, and life-saving efforts can be maximized. Sounds great – our tax dollars going to a good thing; our government being wise and efficient.

Well, enough of that bilge. What it more likely means are one or all of the following scenarios:

  1. Making sure that any DHS spokesperson, whether from FEMA, or any other agency, does not have a James Clapper moment. The Director of National Intelligence was blind-sided by the media about a major story he did not get briefed on, but definitely should have known;
  2. Covering their collective posteriors because the intelligence gathering and analysis performed in recent years has been eclipsed by open-source investigators who are much less constrained in acquiring important information;
  3. Allowing appointees and other politicians a way to spin information to misdirect, change the focus of, or just plain old twist the facts for a given incident;
  4. Protect the reputation and image of the department and its requisite divisions and leaders;
  5. Monitor those of us who monitor them, and identify political adversaries, assign strong negative names and labels to political movements, collect the names of all “subversive” individuals as defined by political forces, and control baby, control…the imagination just carries you away, does it not?

Those summaries above need to be looked at in more detail, the following shows what information is actually being studied and monitored and why:

Leverage Operationally Relevant Data

Leveraging news stories, media reports and postings on social media sites concerning HomelandSecurity, Emergency Management, and National Health for operationally relevant data, information, analysis, and imagery is the first mission component. The traditional and social media teams review a story or posting from every direction and interest, utilizing thousands of reporters, sources, still/video cameramen, analysts, bloggers and ordinary individuals on scene. Traditional Media outlets provide unmatched insight into the depth and breadth of the situation, worsening issues, federal preparations, response activities, and critical timelines. At the sametime, Social Media outlets provide instant feedback and alert capabilities to rapidly changing or newly occurring situations. The MMC works to summarize the extensive information from these resources to provide a well rounded operational picture for the Department of Homeland Security.

Support NOC in Identifying Relevant Operational Media

Supporting the NOC by ensuring they have a timely appreciation for evolving Homeland Security news stories and media reports of interest to the public and DHS/other federal agencies involved in preparations and response activities is the second key component. DHS and other federal agencies conducting joint operations may be affected by other evolving situations in that area. These situations may be related; have a cause and effect relationship; or be unrelated but have a detrimental effect. Through coordination with the NOC Duty Director (NDD), Senior Watch Officer (SWO) the MMC works to ensure the NOC Watch Team is aware of such stories and news events and has time to analyze any effect on operations.

Timely reporting of current information is an integral element in maintaining complete operational awareness by Homeland Security Personnel. The MMC understand it is vital that critical information is relayed to key Department decision makers in as expeditious a manner aspossible.

Increase Situational Awareness of the DHS Secretary

Mitigating the likelihood that the Secretary and DHS Executive staffs are unaware of a breaking Homeland Security news story or media report is the third component. The Secretary and executive staff members are subject to press questions regarding domestic and international events and may or may not be informed of the most current media coverage. The MMC understands critical information requirements and monitors news coverage with the perspective of how the breaking story may be related to current and other important ongoing situations and DHS activities. The on-duty MMC analyst alerts DHS personnel and related federal agencies of updated news stories through distributed Items of Interest (see section 3.9.6). Recognizing that local media coverage is potentially sensationalizing an incident, the MMC strives to comprehend the media’s message and identify sensitive situations that must be brought to the attention of the Secretary.

Facebook

It is clear to many Facebook aficionados that the DHS work has been more than just gleaning information.

There are reliable reports where:

  • If you type certain words on your wall, it will automatically “friend” you on the DHS page, without permission, and you cannot “un-friend” yourself;
  • If you type anything that has the word DHS or a few other key words, your post will show up on the DHS FB page;
  • Politicians are using it as well, ask the Romney people. If you post “I love Mitt Romney” on your wall, that post will appear on Romney’s FB page;
  • Then there are other weird anomalies, and many FB folks are “pruning” their friends lists for these very reasons, no privacy!

Wake up America, DHS and others may be watching you and gleaning information from you, and as we have seen repeatedly with the current administration, it will or could be used against you. Remember, the Defense Authorization Act of 2012 has reset a lot of the rules on detention for American citizens. The pieces and parts for total control are coming into place.

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Denise Simon contributed to this article. She is the Director of Research at SUA.

Big Brother Google

Editor’s Note– The internet is more important to the everyday person than the ubiquitous coffee pot. Google has captured the lion’s share of all searches on computers, iPads, and smart phones, and the data captured is immense to say the least. But, just how much do we know of what Google is really doing with all the data they collect through tracking our searches? How do they have the right to sell information about you and your activities? Those are your data, not theirs, and if money is to be made off it, is it not yours?

Google operates in the background whether you know it or not and collects history for data-mining and then both shares and sells that data to anyone that comes asking. What is most disturbing is just how Google has betrayed our trust by passing along internet tracking histories to the government with our knowledge. Your likely reaction may be so what, I dont use the internet for any hidden objectives, but that is not what is at issue here.

Google is effectively watching and cataloging everything we do on the internet and then using that information to target you for internet sales, or who knows what else. The possibilities are endless and bode of a “big brother’ watching you, but to what end? Its a slippery slope, and somewhere in the future, this information may be used against the individual for easily imagined reasons, both monetary and nefarious.

America, stop being sheep and protect yourself and your domain, most of all your freedom. Here are two articles to help you understand what is taking place:

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Google’s new privacy policy: The good, bad, scary

By Larry Dignan

ZD Net

Summary: I’m all for breaking down data silos, but when Google knows more about me than my wife I get a bit worried.

Google has updated its privacy policy in a way that breaks down product silos, but allows the search giant to mine data across all of its services.

In a blog post, Google outlined the changes. These changes are the enterprise Holy Grail in many respects. Companies everywhere want to break down product walls to get a 360 degree view of customers. The difference with Google is reach and it is actually succeeding. In a nutshell, Google is:

  • Making its privacy policies easier to read.
  • Aggregating data across products for Google and user experience.
  • And arguing that it’s easier to take your data and go somewhere else.
  • Here’s how this boils down for this Google user between work and personal uses.

The good: Anything that simplifies privacy policies makes sense—even if you may not agree with them. Google has 70 privacy documents today. That will be boiled down to one privacy policy.

The bad: Unified user experience aside, it was kind of nice to have my YouTube personas different from say, Gmail and Google+. Philosophically it makes sense. Emotionally I’m not so sure I’m on board the one for all approach.

The scary: Google will know more about you than your wife does. Everything across your screens will be integrated and tracked. Google noted that it collects information you provide, data from your usage, device information and location. Unique applications are also noted. Sure you can use Google’s dashboard and ad manager to cut things out, but this policy feels Big Brother-ish. Google is watching you as long as you are logged in. It’s also unclear whether this privacy policy move will be considered bundling in some way by regulators. This unified experience hook appears to be at least partially aimed at juicing Google+. Google responded with clarification: Google noted that it already has all that data, but it’s now integrating that information across products. It’s a change in how Google will use the data not what it collects. In other words, Google already knows more about you than your wife.

The bottom line here is that you should start perusing Google’s terms of service and privacy policies pronto.

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Stop BIG Brother From Spying on YOU: Top Three Search Engines That Don’t Track You

By Nelson Doyle

Web Upon

Google is by far the biggest and most popular internet search engine on the internet, but it might not be the safest. Here are the top three search engines which do not track you or save your searches like Google does.

It has been recently reported that Google has entered into a secret partnership deal with the NSA (National Security Agency) to try to prevent cyber-attacks and hackers from accessing their servers. Maybe, that is all it is, but most deals are not just one-way, but could also mean that the NSA now has access to the search entries of Google’s users. How does that settle with you, the users? (Google and the NSA news article)

I believe that if you are not doing anything illegal, then it is your privacy which should be protected by the companies which you do business with and by the government which works for you “The People” or at least here in the United States of America. It is very disturbing that government agencies could spy and collect informational data on my searches and possibly build a profile on me the user. They have no business getting into my business unless they have really good cause for doing so, and then they should inform me that they are doing so.

Thank goodness, Google isn’t the only search engine on the web. There are others that serve up the search results which I need to have when researching data for writing a new article. These search engines do not collect information about their users or install cookies on the hard drive and best of all, most do not save the search queries of their users. This helps protect the users’ privacy while conducting searches online.

Stop Big Brother from spying on you by changing the way which you search online. Currently Big Brother has easy access to the majority of searches conducted across the internet, because Google and the main stream media has done a fantastic job making Google the most popular internet search engine on the web, but now, Google is teaming up with the National Security Agency in a closed door and closed lipped deal, which could potentially make it easier for the government to spy on you without you even knowing it every time you use Google for your internet searches.

Ixquick

Ixquick earns the top spot on this Top 3 List, because it has really gone far and beyond any security measures to protect the online community’s privacy while conducting internet searches online. It is the first fully certified search engine to stop using ID cookies and software; it does not store search data that users use in their searches; it does not collect your IP Address; it does not share or sell user’s information to third parties; and only 2 cookies which this search does use are both anonymous thus meaning it cannot be traced back to a particular user. Read here for more details.

Gibiru

One of the very first things that searchers will see on this site is the company’s motto “The Unofficial Search Engine Proxy For Humans Who Don’t Want to Be Tracked By Big Brother” and this is great information to know before using this search engine. Gibiru has put their stated goal in plain and simply terms which anyone can understand “Gibiru don’t Track You”. So search on and keep your privacy in your control – if you allow someone in, then you have no privacy to protect.

HideMyAss

Hidemyass is a search engine proxy which allows users to conduct searches of their choice and serves up the top 100 Google results which have been stripped down to disallow any Google cookies from being placed on the user’s hard drive. This search engine does not use tracking cookies or spyware and does not store searches for more than 48 hours.