In a Lawsuit Affidavit, NSA Whistleblower William Binney Confirms U.S. Government Spies on Citizens

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In a lawsuit filed during the Obama administration, plaintiff Elliott J. Schuchardt claims surveillance programs compromised his Gmail, Facebook and Dropbox accounts. (Darkside354 / Wikimedia)

Elliott J. Schuchardt is suing Donald Trump for violating Schuchardt’s rights under the Fourth Amendment. The Tennessee lawyer has filed a civil lawsuit in Pennsylvania against the president of the United States, the director of the Office of National Intelligence, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the director of the National Security Agency who is also chief of the Central Security Service. Schuchardt contends that the defendants are “unlawfully intercepting, accessing, monitoring and/or [his] private communications.”

The lawsuit represents a longstanding legal battle Schuchardt has waged against top U.S. intelligence officials that started when Barack Obama was president. William Binney, a former U.S. intelligence official and NSA whistleblower, is supporting Schuchardt’s most recent legal case.

The plaintiff claims that his Fourth Amendment rights have been violated by government surveillance programs. According to Ars Technica, “Schuchardt argued in his June 2014 complaint that both metadata and content of his Gmail, Facebook, and Dropbox accounts were compromised under the PRISM program as revealed in the documents leaked by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden.”

That case was dismissed for “lack of standing,” but Schuchardt has continued to file amended complaints related to U.S. intelligence activities.

“I’m making an allegation that no one else is making: I’m contending that the government is collecting full content of e-mail,” Schuchardt told Ars Technica in 2014. “I’m contending that they’re not doing it by PRISM but via [Executive Order] 12333. I’m not saying that this is being done on a case by case basis but that they’re grabbing it all. Where is that email residing? Is it back at the Google servers? I’m contending that this is on a government server. I am the only person in the U.S. who is objecting to those set of facts.”

Schuchardt, whose legal works focuses on “civil litigation, corporate law, personal injury, bankruptcy, divorce and child custody” cases, felt compelled to challenge the highest levels of American government.

“I’ve been following the issue before Snowden came forward,” Schuchardt said three years ago. “Then I started to watch it for that first year, and then when Congress was dragging its feet, I decided I was going to file the case when nothing got done, and when nothing got done, I decided to move forward.”

Last week, Binney, the NSA whistleblower, gave an affidavit in the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Pennsylvania, opposing the defendants’ renewed motion to dismiss the second amended complaint.

2. I have reviewed the complaint in the complaint in the above-captioned civil lawsuit. It is my understanding, based on the Complaint, that the Plaintiff, Elliott Schuchardt, contends that the Defendants are “unlawfully intercepting, accessing, monitoring and/or storing [his] private communications.” (Complaint, ¶ 50.)

3. It is my understanding, based on the complaint, that Mr. Schuchardt is a consumer of various types of electronic communication, storage and internet-search services. These include the ‘e-mail services provided by Google and Yahoo; the internet search service provided by Google; the cloud storage services provided by Google and Dropbox; the e-mail and instant message services provided by Facebook; and the cell phone and text communication service provided by Verizon Communications.’ (Complaint,  ¶ 49.)

4. The allegations in the Complaint are true and correct: Defendants are intercepting, accessing, monitoring and storing the Plaintiff’s private communications.

Read Binney’s complete affidavit below.

Click the following links to see Exhibits 1, 3 and 6 from Binney’s affidavit.

by Eric Ortiz/Truthdig

Posted by The NON-Conformist


‘Wholesale disregard for customers’ privacy’: Bose Corp sued over spying headphone app

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‘Wholesale disregard for customers’ privacy’: Bose Corp sued over spying headphone app

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Massachusetts-based headphones and speakers producer, Bose Corp, is facing a lawsuit after being accused of covertly collecting data about its customers through a headphones app and then selling those private details to some data mining companies.

The lawsuit accuses the company of violating a number of privacy protection laws by “secretly collecting, transmitting and disclosing its customers’ private music and audio selections to third parties.” The complaint against the Framingham, Massachusetts-based company was filed by an Illinois resident, Kyle Zak, in federal court in Chicago on Tuesday.

Zak said he downloaded the free Bose Connect app available on Apple Inc or Google Play stores to his smartphone to “get the most out of your headphones.” He also said that he provided the company with his name, email address and headphone serial number to download the app.

However, he was surprised when he found out that Bose sent “all available media information” from his smartphone to some third-party companies. The complainant particularly said that the app sent the customers’ data to the data mining company that said on its website it collects personal data and could send it “anywhere.”

The complaint filed to the court says that audio choices, including both music and audio podcasts could offer “an incredible amount of insight” into customers’ personalities, including their religious views, sexual orientation and even their state of health.

“For example, a person that listens to Muslim prayer services through his headphones or speakers is very likely a Muslim, a person that listens to the Ashamed, Confused, And In the Closet Podcast is very likely a homosexual in need of a support system, and a person that listens to The Body’s HIV/AIDS Podcast is very likely an individual that has been diagnosed and is living with HIV or AIDS. None of the defendant’s customers could have ever anticipated that these types of music and audio selections would be recorded and sent to, of all people, a third party data miner for analysis,” the complaint says, as cited by the International Business Times.

“People should be uncomfortable with it,” Christopher Dore, an attorney representing Zak, told Reuters, adding that “people put headphones on their head because they think it’s private, but they can be giving out information they don’t want to share.”

He also stressed that the app’s user service and privacy agreements do not mention anything about data collection. Zak now wants to stop the data collection by Bose Corp, which he says violates the US federal Wiretap Act and Illinois laws against eavesdropping and consumer fraud.

“Defendants’ conduct demonstrates a wholesale disregard for consumer privacy rights,” the complaint said, as cited by Reuters.

Zak is reportedly seeking millions of dollars in damages not only for himself but also for other buyers of headphones and speakers of various Bose models, including QuietComfort 35, QuietControl 30, SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II, SoundLink Color II, SoundSport Wireless and SoundSport Pulse Wireless.

The company, which earlier said its annual sales exceed $3.5 billion, has not commented on the issue so far.

READ MORE: California bill seeks to crack down on ‘smart’ toys & potential spy gadgets

The lawsuit against Bose Corp is just the latest in a series of complaints against the companies seeking to boost profit by secretly collecting their customers’ data to press more goods on them or just to sell it to some third parties.

From RT

Posted by The NON-Conformist


Internet privacy rules removed by Congress

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Internet providers will not be required to ask permission to sell customers’ browsing habits, including medical information, shopping habits and even pornography preferences after Congress voted to roll back Obama-era regulations.

The House of Representatives voted 215 to 205 in favor of eliminating restrictions of internet service providers (ISP) and their ability to sell their customer’s information on Tuesday. The protections were planned to be enacted by the end of 2017 and would have forced ISPs to get permission from their customers before selling their internet browsing and app habits to advertisers.

The vote was largely bipartisan, with those in favor being exclusively Republican. However, several Republican lawmakers crossed over to vote against eliminating the privacy measures. Last Thursday, a Senate vote set the stage for the House of Representatives to send the bill to President Donald Trump’s desk after they voted exclusively on party lines against the measures.

The planned protections were proposed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and would have prevented ISPs and broadband providers from selling information, including where customers bank, shop, browse, their political views and even sexual orientation.

Those in favor of eliminating the protection measures have claimed that preventing ISPs from requiring consumer consent for customer information will eliminate competition among providers.

In a press release, Senator Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) defended rolling back the protections, saying the FCC’s privacy policy “has the potential to limit consumer choice, stifle innovation, and jeopardize data security by destabilizing the internet ecosystem.

Supporters of the FCC regulations believe the repeal will only benefit broadband providers.

Instead of making the industry more competitive, what this bill wants to do is give these four or five ISPs even more power,” Representative Ro Khanna (D-California) told The Guardian.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting privacy on the internet, released a statement saying “should President Donald Trump sign S.J. Res. 34 into law, big Internet providers will be given new powers to harvest your personal information in extraordinarily creepy ways.

For internet users who want to protect their privacy from ISPs, the options are slim going forward. Some may choose to utilize a virtual private network (VPN), a frequently paid service that routes all internet traffic through one server not directly connected to the user. However, many sites like Netflix try to ban VPN users from utilizing their services.

Others may move over to using Tor, a more complex server that could leave users open to malicious servers.

Repealing the FCC’s regulations is not a done deal, yet. President Trump has yet to sign off on SJ Res 34, leaving opponents room for a Hail Mary. The EFF’s Jeremy Gillula told the Guardian, “I think we’d try to convince President Trump that signing a bill that helps big corporate interests by eliminating Americans’ privacy and weakening their cybersecurity isn’t exactly ‘draining the swamp.’

From RT

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Twitter cuts ties with firm believed to help police spy on activists

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Twitter is doubling down on its commitment to opposing police use of its data for surveillance. The social network has severed its contract with Media Sonar, which produces surveillance software used by 19 local government agencies.
The social media giant cut Sonar off in October as part of its commitment to opposing the use of its data by companies that offer mass surveillance tools to law enforcement. Media Sonar was guilty of doing so, Twitter confirmed to the Daily Dot on Friday.

Media Sonar’s access to API, Twitter’s public platform for developers, was shut down, and Twitter told the Daily Dot that if they try to create more, “we will terminate those as well and take further action as appropriate.”

Media Sonar’s sales representatives pitched the cloud-based surveillance program as being “specifically designed for law enforcement” and their promotional material contains “an effective list of high frequency social media terms that can help identify illegal activity and threats to public safety.”

A copy of their material was obtained by the ACLU who discovered that much of the terminology contained on the list pertained to anti-police brutality movements, such as Black Lives Matter. A separate column for Mike Brown-related keywords was included in the 2015 material.

The list also contained keywords of questionable quality. For example, under the gangs column, Media Sonar included keywords like “CEO,” “beat,” and “RIP.” All of these are words apparently can establish a user as potentially being up to no good.

Other interesting choices include placing “dissent” as a potential keyword for police evasion and crimes against police and “brother” as a potential keyword for human trafficking. Phrases that attract children are, according to Media Sonar, “IWSN,” which Media Sonar believes means, “I want sex now,” much to the chagrin of the Injured Worker Support Network.

Misunderstanding of youth culture aside, Media Sonar’s products were purchased by 19 local law enforcement agencies for at least $10,000 each between 2014 and 2016. The promotional material that the ACLU found was actually sent to the Fresno Police Department.

Media Sonar worked by using an artificial intelligence program to “analyze context, phrases and emoticons” “as predictive features” and was pitched as a way to “avoid the warrant process” to learn more about an individual’s social media profiles. Media Sonar also showed trends with individuals that ranged from the products they like to locations they are often tagged in.

Many feel that this kind of software should not be in the hands of law enforcement, because it would offer them the ability to track down and target protest organizers and activists. Twitter has expressed its “commitment to social justice” and claims to be on the lookout for companies like this.

From RT

Posted by The NON-Conformist

GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham wants Congress to investigate Russian cyberattack on DNC, election

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Donald Trump may seek improved relations with Russia, but top Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham wants Vladimir Putin held responsible if the Russian government was involved in cyber-hacks to disrupt the U.S. elections.

Graham, who has sparred openly with Trump, his former rival in the presidential primary, is proposing that Congress hold a series of hearings on “Russia’s misadventures throughout the world” – including whether they were involved in “hacking into the DNC.”

“Were they involved in cyberattacks that had a political component to it in our elections?” Graham said.

If so, Graham said, “Putin should be punished.”

U.S. officials allege that Russia was involved in the hack on the Democratic National Committee that resulted in the release of sensitive emails ahead of the election.

Graham is one of the Senate’s leading foreign policy experts and his scrutiny of Putin comes as Trump’s desire for closer ties with Russia has drawn deep concern from the national security establishment.

“Here’s what I would tell Republicans: We cannot sit on the sidelines as a party and let allegations against a foreign government interfering in our election process go unanswered because it may have been beneficial to our cause,” Graham added.

The South Carolina senator acknowledged differences with Trump – “clearly, me and the Donald have issues,” he said – but he offered an olive branch to “do everything to help him, because he’ll be commander in chief in dangerous times.”

“He wants to reset with Russia. Maybe he can do it. But here’s my view about Russia: They’re a bad actor in the world and they need to be reined in,” Graham said.

“He is the president of the United States, and he is the leading diplomat for the country, but Congress has a role.”

By Lisa Mascaro/LA Times

Posted by The NON-Conformist

FBI pushing for new domestic and global internet hacking powers

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Image: Getty

In a move that watchdog groups are calling an unconstitutional power grab, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is reportedly looking to rewrite the espionage rulebook, giving it the authority to hack into computers at home and abroad.

With little public debate and congressional oversight on the issue, the FBI appears set to make the fourth amendment to the Constitution wholly redundant, which protects Americans against “illegal searches and seizures,” The Guardian reported.

The Department of Justice will present its case on November 5 to the Advisory Committee on Criminal Rules.

“This is a giant step forward for the FBI’s operational capabilities, without any consideration of the policy implications. To be seeking these powers at a time of heightened international concern about US surveillance is an especially brazen and potentially dangerous move,” Ahmed Ghappour, an expert in computer law at the University of California, who will participate in next week’s meeting, told the Guardian.

More from Russia Today

Posted by The NON-Conformist

KNOW IT ALL: Friday’s Top Stories at NBC News

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Edward Snowden sits down exclusively with NBC News

 The elusive NSA whistleblower will appear in his first American broadcast interview with “NBC Nightly News” anchor and managing editor Brian Williams. The taped interview will air Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET. Snowden, who was granted temporary asylum in Russia, will talk about his role in uncovering the NSA’s wiretapping and spying program.

Image: NBC News

 Thailand’s military junta wants face time with ousted leaders

A day after the military said it was taking control of the government to restore order, its new leaders have summoned 155 political figures to appear before them — or face arrest. Among the leaders who’ll have to answer to the junta is former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who stepped down this month after she was found guilty of abuse of power.

Tennessee brings back electric chair for executions

A shortage of lethal drugs has further muddied executions in the United States. As an alternative method, Tennessee’s governor on Thursday signed a law allowing for the use of the electric chair, although Old Sparky has fallen out of favor in most states. The Tennessee Federal Public Defender’s Office told NBC News it would challenge the new law in court.

More from NBC News

Posted by Libergirl

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