More evidence that bulk snooping dosent work

27 April 2015

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/25/us/politics/value-of-nsa-warrantless-spying-is-doubted-in-declassified-reports.html

But little came of the Stellarwind tips. In 2004, the F.B.I. looked at a sampling of all the tips to see how many had made a “significant contribution” to identifying a terrorist, deporting a terrorism suspect, or developing a confidential informant about terrorists.

Just 1.2 percent of the tips from 2001 to 2004 had made such a contribution. Two years later, the F.B.I. reviewed all the leads from the warrantless wiretapping part of Stellarwind between August 2004 and January 2006. None had proved useful.

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Article on IMSI Catchers and Stingrays

24 April 2015

I have been helping a proper journalist, Brady Dale, write a article on the use and abuse of Stingrays and other IMSI catchers. It turned out quite well. It is up on Motherboard.


DRIP letter part 2

27 February 2015
I got a reply to my previous email to my MP Alok Sharma, with a note from James Brokenshaw, basically reiterating the the well publicised position of the government on the DRIP act. I wont type all of this in here, but here is my response to this.

Dear Alok Sharma

Thanks for the response to my letter from James Brokenshire of the home office. This appears to be a form letter reiterating the government position, rather that a response to any of my issues. It was also good to chat briefly to you when you called at my house a couple of weeks ago.

I get the impression you don’t fully grasp the importance of this. The internet at the moment is the preferred tool of communication for many in some circumstances, but it is rapidly becoming the only way of communication for many things. For the UK to prosper it is essential that individuals and businesses can operate here in a secure manner.

I noted that your response was a physical letter, and so not subject to electronic surveillance, or retention. Why should there be such a vast difference in the government and police powers depending on the medium of communication?

I and most people would agree that the Police need to have access to electronic data and the RIPA should be the basis of that access. That a warrant is required, and it has to be specific, relevant, and proportionate.

What we object to is the “Collect it all” attitude of turning the internet into the total surveillance tool. Firstly because it is amoral and repugnant in a free society, and secondly because it does not work in catching criminals.

The DRIP act extends the current powers in crucial areas, for the government to assert otherwise is misinforming the public. (see https://www.openrightsgroup.org/blog/2014/the-drip-myth-list )

What should we do about this? The best laws are those based on clear principals, not on specific technologies. Like the Human Rights act. So when a court such as the CJEU rules that a domestic law breaches human rights the government should take note and adjust the domestic laws. Not just pass another “emergency” law to reinstate the powers that the court have ruled on.

I hope that you will consider this carefully when the DRIP act comes up for renewal, and pledge in your election manifesto not to support this law.

Kind Regards

Stuart Ward

The truth of NSA Survalence of the world

18 May 2011

In a long an detailed article in the New Yorker, Jame Mayer recounts the background of an interview she had with Thomas Drake, former senior executive at the National Security Agency. Drake now faces serious charges under the espionage acts for revealing the extent to which the NSA has been breaking US law and performing surveillance on the the whole world, as well as American Citizens without any form of warrant.

In the weeks after the attacks, rumors began circulating inside the N.S.A. that the agency, with the approval of the Bush White House, was violating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act—the 1978 law, known as FISA, that bars domestic surveillance without a warrant. Years later, the rumors were proved correct. In nearly total secrecy, and under pressure from the White House, Hayden sanctioned warrantless domestic surveillance. The new policy, which lawyers in the Justice Department justified by citing President Bush’s executive authority as Commander-in-Chief, contravened a century of constitutional case law. Yet, on October 4, 2001, Bush authorized the policy, and it became operational by October 6th.


The Electronic Police State

12 May 2009

I came across this item on slashdot, pointing at a review of state surveillance rankings. The press release ranked the countries like this:

Here are the 52 states and their rankings:
1. China
2. North Korea
3. Belarus
4. Russia
5. United Kingdom: England & Wales
6. United States of America

But the slashdoters downloaded the raw data and analysed it like this:

1. China, with a score of 3.47
2. UK Englad/Wales, with a score of 3.18
3. US and Singapore tied for 3rd place, with a score of 3.12
5. France and Germany tied for 5th place, with a score of 3.06

And as for Israel and Russia — they are tied for 11th place, with a score of 2.82

But this is really just about what information is stored about citizens. What is really important is the oversight and control of who gets access to this.