Privacy under attack


I just finished reading No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State by Glenn Greenwald and was floored by the flagrant disregard and abuse of American and International privacy by the NSA and its affiliates:
"the government has the capability to activate cell phones and laptops remotely as eavesdropping devices.  Powering off the phone or laptop does not defeat the capability: only removing the battery does."  (p. 12)
"the NSA had what it called 'collection directly from the servers of these U.S. Service Providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, Paltalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple.'"  (p. 21)
"[FISA] ordered Verizon Business to turn over to the NSA 'all call detail records' for 'communications (i) between the United States and abroad; and (ii) wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls.'  That meant the NSA was secretly and indiscriminately collecting the telephone records of tens of millions of Americans, at least.  Virtually nobody had any idea that the Obama administration was doing any such thing. ... Soon after the story ran, the Associated Press confirmed from an unnamed senator what we had strongly suspected: that the bulk phone record collection program had been going on for years, and was directed at all major US telecom carriers, not just Verizon."  (p. 27, 72) 
"I realized that they were building a system whose goal was the elimination of all privacy, globally."  -Edward Snowden (p. 47)
"Obama's administration has prosecuted more government leakers under the Espionage Act of 1917 -- a total of seven -- than all previous administrations in US history combined: in fact, more than double that total."  (p. 50) 
"Through a carefully cultivated display of intimidation to anyone who contemplated a meaningful challenge, the government had striven to show people around the world that its power was constrained by neither law nor ethics, neither morality nor the Constitution."  (pp. 83-84)
Former NSA Director Keith B. Alexander's personal motto: "Collect it all"  (p. 95, 97, 169)
"the Washington Post reported in 2010 that 'every day, collection systems at the National Security Agency intercept and store 1.7 billion emails, phone calls, and other types of communications' from Americans."  (p. 99)
"the NSA has increasingly made use of a secret technology that enables it to enter and alter data in computers even if they are not connected to the Internet."  (p. 118)
"The [British] GCHQ has also conducted mass interception of communications data from the world's underwater fiber-optic cables.  Under the program name Tempora, ... the 'GCHQ and the NSA are consequently able to access and process vast quantities of communications between entirely innocent people'. The intercepted data encompass all forms of online activity, including 'recordings of phone calls, the content of email messages, entries on Facebook, and the history of any internet user's access to websites.'"  (p. 119)
"The NSA routinely receives -- or intercepts -- routers, servers, and other computer network devices being exported from the Unites States before they are delivered to the international customers.  The agency then implants backdoor surveillance tools, repackages the devices with a factory seal, and sends them on.  The NSA thus gains access to entire networks and all their users. ... Among other devices, the agency intercepts and tampers with routers and servers manufactured by Cisco to direct large amounts of Internet traffic back to the NSA's repositories. (There is no evidence in the documents that Cisco is aware of, or condoned, these interceptions.)"  (pp. 148-150)
"The key program used by the NSA to collect, curate, and search such data, introduced in 2007, is X-KEYSCORE, and it affords a radical leap in the scope of the agency's surveillance powers.  The NSA calls X-KEYSCORE its 'widest reaching' system for collecting electronic data ... the program captures 'nearly everything a typical user does on the internet,' including the text of emails, Google searches, and the names of websites visited.  X-KEYSCORE even allows 'real-time' monitoring of a person's online activities, enabling the NSA to observe emails and browsing activities as they happen."  (p. 153, see also 157, 159)
[2011-03-14 internal NSA memo] "BLARNEY began delivery of substantially improved and more complete Facebook content.  This is a major leap forward in NSA's ability to exploit Facebook using FISA and FAA authorities.  This effort was initiated in partnership with the FBI ... NSA is now able to access a broad range of Facebook data"  (p. 160)
[2011 presentation by GCHQ] "Many targets on Facebook lock down their profiles, so it is not possible to view all of their information... But passive offers the opportunity to collect this information by exploiting inherent weaknesses in Facebook's security model."  (p. 162)
[NSA presentation for a group of agency officials] "Put Money, National Interest, and Ego together, and now you're talking about shaping the world writ large."  (p. 167)
 "At the end of July 2013, the Pew Research Center released a poll showing that ... Americans now considered the danger of surveillance of greater concern than the danger of terrorism."  (p. 197)
"the argument that mass surveillance has prevented terror plots -- a claim made by President Obama and a range of national security figures -- has been proved false.  As the Washington Post noted in December 2013, in an article headlined 'Officials' Defenses of NSA Phone Program May Be Unraveling,' a federal judge declared the phone metadata collection program 'almost certainly' unconstitutional, in the process saying that the Justice Department failed to 'cite a single case in which analysis of the NSA's bulk metadata collection actually stopped an imminent terrorist attack.'"  (p. 202) 
"The usefulness of the bulk collection program has been greatly exaggerated.  We have yet to see any proof that it provides real, unique value in protecting national security." - Democratic senators Ron Wyden, Mark Udall, and Martin Heinrich -- all members of the Intelligence Committee, as quoted in the New York Times 
"The collect-it-all system did nothing to detect, let alone disrupt, the 2012 Boston Marathon bombing.  It did not detect the attempted Christmas-day bombing of a jetliner over Detroit, or the plan to blow up Times Square, or the plot to attack the New York City subway system -- all of which were stopped by alert bystanders or traditional police powers.  It certainly did nothing to stop the string of mass shootings from Aurora to Newtown.  Major international attacks from London to Mumbai to Madrid proceeded without detection, despite involving at least dozens of operatives."  (p. 203) 
"That [mass surveillance] capability at any time could be turned around on the American people and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything -- telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn't matter.  There would be no place to hide.  If this government ever became a tyrant ... the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance ... is within the reach of the government to know.  Such is the capacity of this technology."  - Frank Church, 1975
 "Not only is ubiquitous surveillance ineffective, it is extraordinarily costly. ... It breaks our technical systems, as the very protocols of the Internet become untrusted.  ... It's not just domestic abuse we have to worry about; it's the rest of the world, too.  The more we choose to eavesdrop on the Internet and other communications technologies, the less we are secure from eavesdropping by others.  Our choice isn't between a digital world where the NSA can eavesdrop and one where the NSA is prevented from eavesdropping; it's between a digital world that is vulnerable to all attackers, and one that is secure for all users."  - Bruce Schneier, as quoted in the Atlantic, January 2014
 "Democracy requires accountability and consent of the governed, which is only possible if citizens know what is being done in their name.  The presumption is that, with rare exception, they will know everything their political officials are doing, which is why they are called public servants, working in the public sector, in public service, for public agencies.  Conversely, the presumption is that the government, with rare exception, will not know anything that law-abiding citizens are doing.  That is why we are called private individuals, functioning in our private capacity.  Transparency is for those who carry out public duties and exercise public power.  Privacy is for everyone else."  (p. 209)

Looks like it's time to add _nomap to my SSID (still doesn't reign in Apple) , tighten my anonymity protection, and switch to MaidSafe...

Black screen on Google Maps


A recent update to Google Maps caused my screen to black out with a WebGL error:

Fortunately, the solution was pretty easy: load Google Maps in Lite Mode   (source)