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Submission + - The NSA's New Partner in Spying: Saudi Arabia's Brutal State Police (firstlook.org)

Advocatus Diaboli writes: The National Security Agency last year significantly expanded its cooperative relationship with the Saudi Ministry of Interior, one of the world’s most repressive and abusive government agencies. An April 2013 top secret memo provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden details the agency’s plans “to provide direct analytic and technical support” to the Saudis on “internal security” matters. The Saudi Ministry of Interior—referred to in the document as MOI— has been condemned for years as one of the most brutal human rights violators in the world. In 2013, the U.S. State Department reported that “Ministry of Interior officials sometimes subjected prisoners and detainees to torture and other physical abuse,” specifically mentioning a 2011 episode in which MOI agents allegedly “poured an antiseptic cleaning liquid down [the] throat” of one human rights activist. The report also notes the MOI’s use of invasive surveillance targeted at political and religious dissidents.

Submission + - The Secret Government Rulebook For Labeling You a Terrorist (firstlook.org) 1

Advocatus Diaboli writes: The Obama administration has quietly approved a substantial expansion of the terrorist watchlist system, authorizing a secret process that requires neither “concrete facts” nor “irrefutable evidence” to designate an American or foreigner as a terrorist, according to a key government document obtained by The Intercept. ...The heart of the document revolves around the rules for placing individuals on a watchlist. “All executive departments and agencies,” the document says, are responsible for collecting and sharing information on terrorist suspects with the National Counterterrorism Center. It sets a low standard—”reasonable suspicion“—for placing names on the watchlists, and offers a multitude of vague, confusing, or contradictory instructions for gauging it. In the chapter on “Minimum Substantive Derogatory Criteria”—even the title is hard to digest—the key sentence on reasonable suspicion offers little clarity...

Submission + - Photoshopping of adult porn nets man 10-year child-porn conviction (arstechnica.com)

Advocatus Diaboli writes: A federal appeals court upheld Thursday the child pornography conviction and accompanying 10-year prison term handed to a Nebraska man who superimposed the image of an underaged girl's face onto a picture of two adults having sex. The 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals rejected (PDF) claims from 28-year-old Jeffrey Anderson that his actions were protected by the First Amendment. Anderson sent the doctored image to his 11-year-old half-sister via Facebook, resulting in the charge of distributing child pornography. Anderson had superimposed the half sister's face onto the photo, the court said.

Submission + - Obama administration says the world's servers are ours (arstechnica.com)

Advocatus Diaboli writes: "Global governments, the tech sector, and scholars are closely following a legal flap in which the US Justice Department claims that Microsoft must hand over e-mail stored in Dublin, Ireland. In essence, President Barack Obama's administration claims that any company with operations in the United States must comply with valid warrants for data, even if the content is stored overseas. It's a position Microsoft and companies like Apple say is wrong, arguing that the enforcement of US law stops at the border. A magistrate judge has already sided with the government's position, ruling in April that "the basic principle that an entity lawfully obligated to produce information must do so regardless of the location of that information." Microsoft appealed to a federal judge, and the case is set to be heard on July 31."

Submission + - Hacking Online Polls and Other Ways British Spies Seek to Control the Internet (firstlook.org)

Advocatus Diaboli writes: The secretive British spy agency GCHQ has developed covert tools to seed the internet with false information, including the ability to manipulate the results of online polls, artificially inflate pageview counts on web sites, “amplif[y]” sanctioned messages on YouTube, and censor video content judged to be “extremist.” The capabilities, detailed in documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, even include an old standby for pre-adolescent prank callers everywhere: A way to connect two unsuspecting phone users together in a call. The tools were created by GCHQ’s Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG), and constitute some of the most startling methods of propaganda and internet deception contained within the Snowden archive. Previously disclosed documents have detailed JTRIG’s use of “fake victim blog posts,” “false flag operations,” “honey traps” and psychological manipulation to target online activists, monitor visitors to WikiLeaks, and spy on YouTube and Facebook users.

Submission + - Snowden Revelations Reveal GCHQ Is Just Like 4Chan Trolls, But With More Power (techdirt.com)

An anonymous reader writes: So you misspent your teenage years as a 4chan troll and are trying to figure out what to do for a career? Given the latest revelations from the Snowden Files by Glenn Greenwald over at The Intercept, you might want to consider taking a job for the UK's equivalent to the NSA, better known as GCHQ. As Greenwald details (and the embedded document below reveals), among GCHQ's capabilities in its Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG) are a bunch of things that sound quite a bit like traditional internet trolling efforts. These include juicing internet polls to vote for GCHQ's favorite candidate (remember when moot was voted Time's Person of the Year in an online poll?) as well as flooding email inboxes or websites and even connecting two people on the phone and listening to the conversation.

Of course, this is not the first time that JTRIG has been called out by Glenn Greenwald for its sneaky online practices. Last time, Greenwald highlighted its practice of putting a bunch of false info online about someone to destroy their reputation. This just digs deeper into some of the other "tricks" in JTRIG's trick bag. Still, it is rather astounding to me just how similar many of the items sound to the kinds of things generally associated with trolling behavior. It really makes you wonder if the folks working in JTRIG are just 4chan trolls who never really had to grow up.

Submission + - Facebook Experiments Had Few Limits (wsj.com)

Advocatus Diaboli writes: "Thousands of Facebook Inc. users received an unsettling message two years ago: They were being locked out of the social network because Facebook believed they were robots or using fake names. To get back in, the users had to prove they were real. In fact, Facebook knew most of the users were legitimate. The message was a test designed to help improve Facebook's antifraud measures. In the end, no users lost access permanently. The experiment was the work of Facebook's Data Science team, a group of about three dozen researchers with unique access to one of the world's richest data troves: the movements, musings and emotions of Facebook's 1.3 billion users"

and there is more..

"Until recently, the Data Science group operated with few boundaries, according to a former member of the team and outside researchers. At a university, researchers likely would have been required to obtain consent from participants in such a study. But Facebook relied on users' agreement to its Terms of Service, which at the time said data could be used to improve Facebook's products. Those terms now say that user data may be used for research. "There's no review process, per se," said Andrew Ledvina, a Facebook data scientist from February 2012 to July 2013. "Anyone on that team could run a test," Mr. Ledvina said. "They're always trying to alter peoples' behavior." He recalled a minor experiment in which he and a product manager ran a test without telling anyone else at the company. Tests were run so often, he said, that some data scientists worried that the same users, who were anonymous, might be used in more than one experiment, tainting the results."

Submission + - Core gamers uncomfortable with change, says Peter Moore (computerandvideogames.com)

Advocatus Diaboli writes: "Core" gamers are uncomfortable with change and don't like embracing new business models, according to EA's Peter Moore. The publisher's COO told GamesIndustry that EA is excited about the future health of the industry, but conceded that some traditional gamers will take longer to convince that new innovations will be beneficial.

Submission + - U.S. justices limit police right to search cell phones (reuters.com)

Advocatus Diaboli writes: The court said on a 9-0 vote that the right of police to search an arrested suspect at the scene without a warrant does not extend in most circumstances to data held on a cell phone.

Here is a link to the actual judgement. (http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/13pdf/13-132_8l9c.pdf)

Submission + - HackingTeam Mobile Malware, Infrastructure Uncovered (threatpost.com)

msm1267 writes: Controversial spyware commercially developed by Italy’s HackingTeam and sold to governments and law enforcement for the purpose of surveillance, has a global command and control infrastructure and for the first time, security experts have insight into how its mobile malware components work.

Collaborating teams of researchers from Kaspersky Lab and Citizen Lab at the Monk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto today reported on their findings during an event in London. The breadth of the command infrastructure supporting HackingTeam’s Remote Control System (RCS) is extensive, with 326 servers outed in more than 40 countries; the report also provides the first details on the inner workings of the RCS mobile components for Apple iOS and Android devices.

Submission + - NSA Spook-Turned-Twitter-Pundit Goes Dark After Dick Pic Surfaces (gawker.com)

Advocatus Diaboli writes: A well-known conservative pundit and secrecy expert who once worked as an NSA officer has deleted all of his social media accounts after screenshots leaked this weekend that appeared to show him sending sexy messages and a shot of his soft penis to a Twitter follower who was not his wife. John Schindler is a professor at the Naval War College who has written conservative analyses on global security for Politico and Foreign Policy while scrapping with leftists and libertarians online. A former naval officer who worked as a counterterrorism operative at the NSA for more than a decade, Schindler has long defended that agency's secret surveillance efforts while attacking information activists like Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, and Glenn Greenwald.

Submission + - Emails Show Feds Asking Florida Cops to Deceive Judges (wired.com) 1

Advocatus Diaboli writes: Police in Florida have, at the request of the U.S. Marshals Service, been deliberately deceiving judges and defendants about their use of a controversial surveillance tool to track suspects, according to newly obtained emails. At the request of the Marshals Service, the officers using so-called stingrays have been routinely telling judges, in applications for warrants, that they obtained knowledge of a suspect’s location from a “confidential source” rather than disclosing that the information was gleaned using a stingray.

Submission + - How Secret Partners Expand NSA's Surveillance Dragnet (firstlook.org)

Advocatus Diaboli writes: It has already been widely reported that the NSA works closely with eavesdropping agencies in the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia as part of the so-called Five Eyes surveillance alliance. But the latest Snowden documents show that a number of other countries, described by the NSA as “third-party partners,” are playing an increasingly important role – by secretly allowing the NSA to install surveillance equipment on their fiber-optic cables. The NSA documents state that under RAMPART-A, foreign partners “provide access to cables and host U.S. equipment.” This allows the agency to covertly tap into “congestion points around the world” where it says it can intercept the content of phone calls, faxes, e-mails, internet chats, data from virtual private networks, and calls made using Voice over IP software like Skype.

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