Tuesday 29 October 2013

NSA spying

NSA tracked 46mln Italian phone calls - report
The NSA bugged 46 million phone calls in Italy in a month, according to digital library host Cryptome. The report is the latest in the revelations that the agency tapped hundreds of millions of phone lines across Europe.

28 October, 2013

The snooping, between Dec. 10, 2012 and Jan. 8, 2013, reportedly did not appear to track the content of calls but rather telephony metadata, including the origin and duration of the calls.

The alleged monitoring of citizens’ phone calls follows an article in the Italian weekly, L’Espresso, which claimed that US intelligence had monitored Italian telecoms networks, targeting the government and companies as well as suspected terrorists.

Britain's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) also reportedly monitored telephone, Internet and email traffic carried through three undersea fiber-optic cables in Italy as a part of its Tempora program.

"In this mass collection, our secret services had a role," the publication cited Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who helped publish leaked documents obtained by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, as saying.

Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta said Thursday that the alleged monitoring of Italian telecommunications by US and British intelligence would be both "inconceivable and unacceptable."

Letta questioned US Secretary of State John Kerry about the reported bugging during talks in Rome on Wednesday.

Ahead of an EU summit Friday, Letta said: "Obviously, all checks should be done, but we want the whole truth. It's not acceptable or conceivable that there are activities of this kind.”

In regards to the Cryptome report, Italian intelligence agencies had no information on the alleged monitoring and were unable to confirm it had taken place.

A statement released by an Italian parliamentary committee tasked with state security, however, said there was a difference between “spying” and "monitoring.”

There is no evidence that the United States is spying on Italian citizens,” the statement from the Parliamentary Committee for the Intelligence and Security Services and for State Secret Control read.

The committee said that agreements on cooperation in the security sphere precluded the possibility that either side would spy on each other.

The implementation of such activities would be a threat to national security,” it said.

Meanwhile, Cryptome reported that during the same period, the NSA monitored 361 million phone calls in Germany, 70 million in France, 61 million in Spain, and 1.8 million in the Netherlands.

With the aid of its Boundless Informant data analysis and visualization system, the agency tracked 124.8 billion calls worldwide in that period.

The revelation is part and parcel of the deepening scandal over the United States vast spying apparatus. Last week, the Germany daily Der Spiegel reported that Washington was directly spying on least 35 world leaders, including several US allies.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone has reportedly been on an NSA target list since 2002, US intelligence sources telling Germany’s Bild am Sonntag that US President Barack Obama was aware of the snooping.

Despite Obama’s assurances that he has ordered a review of the US intelligence gathering operations, a coalition of over 20 countries led by Brazil and Germany are now pushing for a UN resolution condemning the US for its “indiscriminate” wiretapping and “extra-territorial” surveillance. The countries are also calling for “independent oversight” of electronic monitoring.

White House: NSA intelligence-gathering may require additional constraints
The White House says the controversial intelligence gathering procedures that have attracted international scrutiny in recent months may require “additional constraints.”

28 October, 2013

Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, made the remark during a scheduled Monday afternoon briefing on the heels of the latest revelations made possible through the unauthorized disclosure of sensitive National Security Agency documents detailing US-led programs that spied on foreign citizens and politicians.

There are a number of efforts underway that are designed to increase transparency, to work with Congress to look at reform to the Patriot Act [and] to look at ways we can increase oversight and increase constraint on the authorities provided by these programs,” Carney told reporters.

The press secretary also echoed words made earlier that day by National Security Adviser Susan Rice, who tweeted of a balance needing to be reached with regards to how intelligence gathering.

We must seek proper balance between security concerns of our citizens and allies and the privacy concerns that all people share.

Carney said that the spy-programs made public through leaked NSA documents attributed by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden are legal through the post-9/11 Patriot Act, but that “steps could be taken to put in place greater oversight--greater transparency--as well as constraints on the use of this authority.”

Additionally, Carney said US President Barack Obama has ordered his administration to conduct a review of those programs.

The issues that are part of the review look at how we can better balance our security needs and the security needs of our allies against the real privacy concerns that we all share,” Carney said.

Meanwhile, Senator Dianne Feinstein, the Senate Intelligence Committee's chairwoman, said that she was "totally opposed" to the collection of intelligence on US allies, and said that such surveillance over foreign heads of state would cease immediately.

"Unless the United States is engaged in hostilities against a country or there is an emergency need for this type of surveillance, I do not believe the United States should be collecting phone calls or emails of friendly presidents and prime ministers," said Feinstein.

The Senator also indicated that her committee would launch a significant overview of current intelligence practices.

The White House has informed me that collection on our allies will not continue, which I support -- but as far as I’m concerned, Congress needs to know exactly what our intelligence community is doing.

"To that end, the committee will initiate a major review into all intelligence collection programs.”

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