*151 million records of Americans’ calls collected by the NSA in 2016

The NSA collected 151 million records of Americans’ phone calls last year despite the USA Freedom Act of 2015. The NSA also complied with requests from government officials to reveal the identities of 1,934 U.S. persons ensnared in the foreign surveillance.

Metadata about the calls such as the number of the caller and recipient, as well as the duration and time of the call was also collected.

The annual report, issued by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, provides the first assessment of the effectiveness of the 2015 USA Freedom Act which was meant to limit dragnet surveillance of millions of Americans’ phone records.

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*NSA claims it has ceased its illegal collection of American emails

TechViews News   …..

The National Security Agency recently announced that it had stopped the practice of its warrantless surveillance program of American citizens. This supposedly ends a once-secret form of wiretapping that was started as a response by the Bush administration’s post 9-11 expansion of national security initiatives.

While originally intended as a way to track foreign suspects operating on American soil, former President Obama massively expanded the program to collect all digital communications of American citizens as well.

The National Security Agency has enjoyed relatively broad authority to monitor communications among suspected terrorists and their associates, even when those people happen to be American citizens, and even without a warrant.

The problem, according to privacy advocates, is that computers cannot tell the difference between who is a citizen and who isn’t. Computers can only tell the origin and destination of the messages. As a result, the N.S.A. argued it was necessary to scoop up ALL communications and sort out the differences out later.

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*FBI use of Stingrays to Track You is an Open Secret

TechViews news   …..

The FBI very rarely talks about the devices, and has even directed local law enforcement departments to notify them whenever media members make Freedom of Information Act requests about the use of Stingrays, in an attempt to keep their use secret.

It’s no secret that the FBI uses Stingrays—”cell-site simulator” devices which force all nearby cell phones to connect to it before rerouting traffic through a real cell phone tower—in order to track callers and suspect movements.

Any given time, on any given day, law enforcement could be scooping up your location data using a fake cell phone tower, and you would probably never know about it. In a just-surfaced video from October, however, the FBI has copped to using fake cell phone towers, known as “Stingrays.”

Stingrays work by allowing police to track the movement of a suspect, and are often used without a warrant, which was recently declared unconstitutional by the Florida Supreme Court.

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*SIGNAL message app has NOT been compromised

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Online rumors that the ‘Signal’ message app was compromised by the WikiLeaks latest information release is totally false.

As alarm bells sound around the latest document dump from WikiLeaks, misinformation has spread like wildfire. Journalists are just starting to pore over the files, but a number of security researchers and privacy advocates (including TechViews News) are hoping to quash the misconception that the encrypted chat app Signal has been compromised.

In spite of the misconceptions, some in security still see the WikiLeaks ‘Vault7’ data as a wake-up call for those who don’t yet take privacy seriously. Signal and other encrypted messaging services are still functioning exactly as originally intended as the hackers aren’t ‘breaking’ that encryption.

Ultimately, encrypted apps like Signal remain one of the most robust ways to protect your private communications — the recent WikiLeaks news didn’t change that.

So … what information was actually released?

Documents released in the 8,761 document and file dump dubbed ‘Vault 7‘ were obtained from an “isolated, high-security network” at the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Va., a press release from WikiLeaks said. The trove had been “circulated among former U.S. government hackers and contractors,” one of whom allegedly turned the archive to WikiLeaks.

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*How the FISA Court Secretly Evolved

Less than a year after the Sept. 11 attacks, the nation’s surveillance court delivered a ruling that intelligence officials consider a milestone in the history of American spying and privacy law. Called the “Raw Take” order, it weakened restrictions on sharing private information about Americans.

The administration of President George W. Bush, intent on not overlooking clues about Al Qaeda, had sought the July 22, 2002, order. It is one of several still-classified rulings by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court described in documents provided by Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor.

Previously, with narrow exceptions, an intelligence agency was permitted to disseminate information gathered from court-approved wiretaps only after deleting irrelevant private details and masking the names of innocent Americans who came into contact with a terrorism suspect.

The Raw Take order significantly changed that system, documents show, allowing counterterrorism analysts at the N.S.A., the F.B.I. and the C.I.A. to share unfiltered personal information.

The leaked documents that refer to the rulings add new details to the emerging public understanding of a secret body of law that the court has developed since 2001. The files help explain how the court evolved from its original task — approving wiretap requests — to engaging in complex analysis of the law to justify activities like the bulk collection of data about Americans’ emails and phone calls.

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*America as a Surveillance State

TechViews News   …..

Last week, The Wall Street Journal revealed that members of the intelligence community — part of the ‘deep state’, the unseen government within the government that does not change with elections — now have acquired so much data on everyone in America that they can selectively reveal it to reward their friends and harm their foes. Their principal foe today is the president of the United States.

Liberty is rarely lost overnight. The wall of tyranny often begins with benign building blocks of safety — each one lying on top of a predecessor — eventually collectively constituting an impediment to the exercise of free choices by free people, often not even recognized until it is too late.

Here is the back story.

In the pre-Revolutionary era, British courts in London secretly issued general warrants to British government agents in America. The warrants were not based on any probable cause of crime or individual articulable suspicion; they did not name the person or thing to be seized or identify the place to be searched. They authorized agents to search where they wished and seize what they found.

The use of general warrants was so offensive to our Colonial ancestors that it whipped up more serious opposition to British rule and support for the revolutionaries than the “no taxation without representation” argument did. And when it came time for Americans to write the Constitution, they prohibited general warrants in the Fourth Amendment, the whole purpose of which was to guarantee the right to be left alone by forcing the government to focus on bad guys and prohibit it from engaging in fishing expeditions. But the fishing expeditions would come.

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*The NSA’s PRISM Program Continues to Scoop Up Your Personal Data

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The NSA’s PRISM program, which collects and mines metadata on anybody the NSA has “51% confidence” is a foreign national. Despite a federal judge ruling that the practice was unconstitutional, the question remains … will anything change?

The Political Problem

Find a politician railing against NSA surveillance, then see where they voted on the Patriot Act, the law that made all this NSA spying possible in the first place. You’ll find a lot of people who happily voted for the act and its renewal are suddenly very disturbed about the consequences of the law they passed.

A huge part of the problem is that while government organizations are spying on US citizens, anything they incidentally collect while doing so is something they can keep. That means if you’re on your phone within a three-block radius of a suspected terrorist, whoever’s listening can record and file your conversation… and use it at a later date, for whatever purpose, if they so desire.

The Social Problem

The second problem is that there is no law on the books keeping the government from looking at your Facebook. Which they’re probably doing, right now.

The reality of the situation is that we place information online about our lives that we would never discuss in public. Amazing, but true. Today you can read information about  friends, family, coworkers, even strangers, that would rarely, if ever, be exposed to someone else.

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