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In her weekly podcast, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has proposed the creation of a European communications network to help improve data protection.
The network would avoid emails and other data automatically passing through the US.
Angela Merkel said she would raise the issue on Wednesday with French President Francois Hollande.
Revelations of mass surveillance by the US National Security Agency (NSA) have prompted huge concern in Europe.
Disclosures by Edward Snowden suggested even the mobile phones of US allies, such as Angela Merkel, had been monitored by American spies.
Angela Merkel has proposed the creation of a European communications network to help improve data protection
Classified NSA documents revealed that large amounts of personal data are collected from the internet by US and British surveillance.
Angela Merkel criticized the fact that Facebook and Google can be based in countries with low levels of data protection while carrying out business in nations that offer more rigorous safeguards.
“Above all, we’ll talk about European providers that offer security for our citizens, so that one shouldn’t have to send emails and other information across the Atlantic,” she said.
“Rather, one could build up a communication network inside Europe.”
There was no doubt that Europe had to do more in the realm of data protection, Angela Merkel said.
A French official was quoted by Reuters as saying that the government in Paris planned to take up the German initiative.
Germany has been trying to persuade Washington to agree to a “no-spy” agreement but without success.
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According to a new report, the NSA and Britain’s GCHQ routinely try to gain access to personal data from Angry Birds and other mobile applications.
A NSA document shows location, websites visited and contacts are among the data targeted from mobile applications.
It is the latest revelation from documents leaked by Edward Snowden.
In a statement, the NSA said it was not interested in data beyond “valid foreign intelligence targets”.
“Any implication that NSA’s foreign intelligence collection is focused on the smartphone or social media communications of everyday Americans is not true,” the statement said.
The report, published by the New York Times, Pro Publica and the Guardian says the NSA and GCHQ have worked together since 2007 to develop ways to gain access to information from applications for mobile phones and tablets.
The scale of data gathering is unclear.
But the reports suggest data is gained from a variety of mapping, gaming and social networking applications, using techniques similar to the ones used to intercept mobile internet traffic and text message data.
The documents also reveal the two agencies are increasingly convinced of the importance of mobile applications data.
The joint spying program “effectively means that anyone using Google Maps on a smartphone is working in support of a GCHQ system” one 2008 document from the British intelligence agency is quoted as saying.
Another GCHQ report, in 2012, laid out how to extract information from Angry Birds user information from phones on the Android operating system. The game has been download 1.7 billion times across the world.
The NSA and GCHQ routinely try to gain access to personal data from Angry Birds and other mobile applications
The GCHQ said it would not comment on intelligence matters, but insisted that all of its activities were “authorized, necessary and proportionate”.
Another NSA document described a “golden nugget” – a perfect scenario where NSA analysts could get broad selections of information from the applications, including networks the phone had connected to, documents downloaded, websites visited and “buddy lists”.
Other applications mentioned by the documents include the photo-sharing site Flickr, movie-based social network Flixster and applications that connect to Facebook.
Developers are responsible for the information generated from each application, but there was no suggestion firms were actively agreeing to give the spy agencies data.
On Monday, the justice department announced it had reached agreement with five major internet firms over their request to share information about how they responded to orders from the NSA and other agencies.
Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook and LinkedIn had previously sued the US government over being able to disclose to the public more information on what they have released to intelligence agencies.
Under the compromise announced, the firms will be able to release:
- the number of criminal-related orders from the government
- the number of secret national security-related orders from government investigators, rounded to the nearest thousand
- how many national security-related orders came from the foreign service intelligence and the number of customers those orders affected
- whether those orders were for just email addresses or covered additional information
As part of the deal, the firms will delay releases of the number of national security orders by six months and promise they cannot reveal government surveillance of new technology or forms of communications they create for two years.
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Guardian’s editor Alan Rusbridger revealed only 1% of files leaked by Edward Snowden have been published.
Alan Rusbridger told the Home Affairs Select Committee in UK parliament that the Guardian was not a “rogue newspaper”.
He insisted the paper’s journalists were “patriots” and patriotic about democracy and a free press.
Alan Rusbridger said senior officials in Whitehall and the US administration had told the paper “no damage” had been caused.
Last month intelligence chiefs used their appearance before a different committee to criticize the Guardian, suggesting it had endangered national security.
However, Alan Rusbridger said their accusations were “very vague and not rooted in specific stories”.
“There are different views about this,” he said.
Alan Rusbridger revealed only 1 percent of files leaked by Edward Snowden have been published
“It’s impossible to assess because no one has given me specific evidence.”
He added: “There are countries – and they are not generally democracies – where the press are not free to write about this and where the security services do tell editors what to write.
“That’s not the country we live in, in Britain, and it’s one of the things we love about the country.”
The Guardian editor said the paper had “made very selective judgments”‘ about what to publish and had not revealed the names of any officials.
He said the files taken by Edward Snowden, a former contractor with the National Security Agency (NSA) were in four locations – with The Guardian and the Washington Post newspapers, as well as in Rio de Janeiro and Germany.
Alan Rusbridger said editors of “leading” newspapers had also decided to publish details in the NSA files.
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Secretary of State John Kerry has admitted that in some cases, US spying has gone too far.
John Kerry is the most senior Obama administration official to have commented directly on an issue that has upset America’s European allies.
The US secretary of state said he will work with President Barack Obama to prevent further inappropriate acts by the National Security Agency (NSA).
John Kerry’s comments come as Asian countries have protested at claims that Australia was involved in a US-led spy network.
China has demanded an explanation of the reports, while Indonesia has summoned the Australian ambassador to Jakarta.
Secretary of State John Kerry has admitted that in some cases, US spying has gone too far
In his comments, John Kerry also defended the need for increased surveillance, saying it had thwarted terrorist attacks.
“We have actually prevented airplanes from going down, buildings from being blown up, and people from being assassinated because we’ve been able to learn ahead of time of the plans,” he told a conference in London via video link.
“I assure you, innocent people are not being abused in this process, but there’s an effort to try to gather information. And yes, in some cases, it has reached too far inappropriately.
“And the president, our president, is determined to try to clarify and make clear for people, and is now doing a thorough review in order that nobody will have the sense of abuse… we are going to make sure that does not happen in the future.”
John Kerry, in his remarks to a conference organized by the Open Government Partnership, said that while some surveillance may have been excessive, claims that up to 70 million were being monitored were an “exaggeration”.
Claims about the extent of US surveillance of targets such as European leaders have strained Washington’s diplomatic relations with some of its key allies.
Australia’s ambassador has been summoned in Indonesia amid reports that Australian embassies have been used as part of a US-led spying network in Asia.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH), diplomatic posts in Asia were being used to intercept phone calls and data.
China has also demanded an explanation from the US over the allegations.
The reports were based on an NSA document leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The document, which was originally published by German newspaper Der Spiegel, describes a signals intelligence programme called Stateroom which involves the interception of radio, telecommunications and internet traffic using equipment in US, British, Australian and Canadian diplomatic missions.
Diplomatic posts involved included those in Jakarta, Bangkok, Hanoi, Beijing and Kuala Lumpur, amongst others, SMH reported on Thursday.
Australia’s ambassador has been summoned in Indonesia amid reports that Australian embassies have been used as part of a US-led spying network in Asia
A former Australian intelligence officer, who was not named, told SMH that the Australian embassies in Jakarta and Bali were used to collect signals.
In a statement, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said: “[The government] cannot accept and strongly protests the news of the existence of wiretapping facilities at the US embassy in Jakarta.”
“If confirmed, such action is not only a breach of security, but also a serious breach of diplomatic norms and ethics.”
“The reported activities absolutely do not reflect the spirit of a close and friendly relationship between the two neighbors and are considered unacceptable by the government of Indonesia,” the foreign ministry added in a statement.
Australian ambassador Greg Moriarty was summoned to the foreign ministry on Monday.
He described the talks, which reportedly took less than half an hour, as “a good meeting”.
Australia and Indonesia are key allies and trading partners. Australia requires Indonesia’s co-operation on the asylum issue, as many asylum seekers travel via Indonesia to Australia by boat.
Meanwhile, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Beijing was “extremely concerned” about the report.
“[China] demands that the US offer a clarification and explanation,” she said.
“We demand that foreign embassies in China and their staff respect the Vienna Convention.”
Malaysia’s foreign ministry, in a statement, said it had sought clarification on the issue from the US envoy in Kuala Lumpur, adding that Malaysia’s “security and sovereignty” remained the priority.
Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade declined to comment on the reports. PM Tony Abbott said: “Every Australian governmental agency, every Australian official… operates in accordance with the law.”
The reports are the latest in a series of documents leaked by Edward Snowden, who has been granted temporary asylum in Russia and is wanted in the US in connection with the unauthorized disclosures.
The US is facing growing anger over reports it spied on its allies abroad.
However, correspondents say that in reality most governments conduct surveillance or espionage operations against other countries whose activities matter to them.
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The Senate’s intelligence committee has ordered a major review of the US surveillance operations.
The committee’s chair, Senator Dianne Feinstein, said eavesdropping on leaders of friendly nations was wrong.
Dianne Feinstein said the White House had told her such surveillance would stop.
Senior US intelligence agency officials are to testify before the House of Representatives later on Tuesday.
Correspondents say pressure is growing on the White House to explain why President Barack Obama apparently did not know about the extent of the intelligence gathering operations.
Barack Obama has spoken publicly of his intent to probe spying activities amid claims of eavesdropping on US allies.
In a recent interview, Barack Obama said that national security operations were being reassessed to make sure the NSA’s growing technical spying capability was kept under control.
“We give them policy direction,” Barack Obama told ABC’s Fusion channel.
The Senate’s intelligence committee has ordered a major review of the US surveillance operations
“But what we’ve seen over the last several years is their capacities continue to develop and expand, and that’s why I’m initiating now, a review to make sure that what they’re able to do, doesn’t necessarily mean what they should be doing.”
An EU delegate in Washington has described the row over intelligence gathering as “a breakdown of trust”.
German media has reported that the US bugged German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone for more than a decade – and that the surveillance only ended a few months ago.
Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the Senate intelligence panel, called for a “total review” of US intelligence programmes in light of the Merkel revelations.
“With respect to NSA collection of intelligence on leaders of US allies – including France, Spain, Mexico and Germany – let me state unequivocally: I am totally opposed,” she said in a statement.
“It is my understanding that President Obama was not aware Chancellor Merkel’s communications were being collected since 2002. That is a big problem.”
Dianne Feinstein said the White House had told her that all surveillance of leaders of countries friendly to the US would stop.
The US has had a “no spying pact”, known as Five Eyes, with Britain since just after World War II, with Australia, New Zealand and Canada later joining.
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France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has summoned the US ambassador over Le Monde newspaper claims that the US spied on millions of phone calls in France.
France has labeled such activity between allies as “unacceptable”.
Le Monde says the data, based on leaks from ex-intelligence analyst Edward Snowden, suggest the US NSA monitored businesses and officials as well as terrorism suspects.
The intercepts were apparently triggered by certain key words.
Le Monde says the US National Security Agency (NSA) spied on 70.3 million phone calls in France in just 30 days between December 10, 2012, and January 8, 2013.
The NSA also apparently captured millions of text messages.
Leaks from ex-intelligence analyst Edward Snowden suggest the NSA monitored businesses and officials as well as terrorism suspects
It was unclear whether the content of the calls and messages was stored, or just the metadata – the details of who is speaking to whom.
Le Monde did not say whether the operation, codenamed US-985D, was still in progress.
Laurent Fabius announced that he had summoned the US ambassador to discuss the claims “immediately”.
Interior Minister Manuel Valls had earlier said the allegations were “shocking”, and added: “If an allied country spies on France, this is totally unacceptable.”
Le Monde reported in July that the French government ran a huge snooping operation on its own citizens, giving its intelligence agencies access to vast amounts of personal data.
The latest revelations follow claims in the German media that US agents hacked into the email account of former Mexican President Felipe Calderon.
Edward Snowden, a former NSA employee, went public with revelations about US spying operations in June.
The information he leaked led to claims of systematic spying by the NSA and CIA on a global scale.
Targets included rivals like China and Russia, as well as allies like the EU and Brazil.
The NSA was also forced to admit it captured email and phone data from millions of Americans.
Edward Snowden is currently in Russia, where he was granted a year-long visa after making an asylum application.
The US wants Edward Snowden extradited to face trial on criminal charges.
Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff has criticized the US over allegations it carried out electronic espionage.
Speaking at the opening of this year’s UN General Assembly, Dilma Rousseff said Brazil would adopt legislation and technology to protect itself from illegal intercepts.
She called Washington’s argument that spying on Brazil was to protect nations from terrorists “untenable”.
Earlier this month, the Brazilian president cancelled a planned visit to Washington.
Dilma Rousseff told the assembled leaders that Brazil had been a target of intrusions and intercepts carried out by a “global network of electronic espionage”.
She said that “corporate information – often of high economic and even strategic value – was at the centre of espionage activities”.
Dilma Rousseff said such tampering with another country’s affairs was an “affront to the principles that must guide the relations among friendly nations”.
Her speech came a week after she called off a high-profile visit to the United States after a string of allegations about the extent of the US spying programme emerged.
Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff has criticized the US over allegations it carried out electronic espionage
Dilma Rousseff rejected arguments put forward by the US that the illegal interception of information was aimed at protecting nations against terrorism.
“Brazil, Mr. President, knows how to protect itself,” she said.
“We face, Mr. President, a situation of a grave violation of human rights and civil liberties; of invasion and capture of confidential information concerning corporate activities, and especially of disrespect to national sovereignty,” Dioma Rousseff added.
The allegations of widespread espionage against Brazilian citizens were first published in July by Rio de Janeiro-based journalist Glenn Greenwald, a reporter for the British Guardian newspaper.
Glenn Greenwald alleged that the NSA accessed all internet content that Dilma Rousseff had visited online.
Earlier this month, another report by Glenn Greenwald alleged that the NSA had also illegally accessed data from Brazil’s state oil company, Petrobras.
Petrobras is due next month to carry out an important auction for exploration rights of an oil field off the Rio de Janeiro state coast.
Dilma Rousseff said that her government would “do everything within its reach to defend the human rights of all Brazilians and to protect the fruits borne from the ingenuity of our workers and our companies”.
Brazil’s leader asked the UN to play a leading role in regulating electronic technology and said Brazil would present proposals for a “civilian multilateral framework” for the governance and use of the internet and to protect web-based data.
Declassified court documents show a NSA surveillance system illegally gathered up to 56,000 personal emails by Americans with no links to terror suspects annually.
Officials revealed that a judge in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ruled the programme illegal in 2011.
The US government faces mounting criticism over its surveillance operations after the leaks of whistle-blower Edward Snowden.
The court, whose rulings are normally kept secret, said the NSA may have violated US law for collecting as many as 56,000 emails on an annual basis between 2008 and 2011.
But intelligence officials speaking to reporters anonymously say the scooping of emails was unintentional, blaming it on a technological problem.
The NSA was unable to separate out emails between Americans with no direct connection to terrorism, so the agency was collecting tens of thousands of “wholly domestic communications” every year, the court documents said.
NSA may have violated US law for collecting as many as 56,000 emails on an annual basis between 2008 and 2011
In the ruling, Judge John Bates criticized the NSA over the breach of privacy, marking it as “the third instance in less than three years in which the government has disclosed a substantial misrepresentation regarding the scope of a major collection programme”.
The court found that the data gathering violated the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution, prohibiting “unreasonable searches and seizures”.
The court’s opinions, which are usually kept secret, were revealed by the government in response to a Freedom of Information request.
Government officials said that the court rulings had been declassified to show that eavesdropping programmes at fault had been found and fixed, highlighting its oversight measures.
The scope of the NSA’s massive surveillance programme, which sweeps up internet traffic and phone records, was exposed in June in leaks to media by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Earlier this month, President Barack Obama promised to be more transparent about US spying programmes, with “appropriate reforms” to guarantee greater oversight.
Documents leaked by Edward Snowden revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) broke privacy rules and overstepped its legal authority thousands of times in the past two years.
The incidents resulted in the unauthorised electronic surveillance of US citizens, according to documents published by the Washington Post.
Edward Snowden, 30, a former NSA contractor, has leaked top secret documents to the US and British media.
He has been given asylum in Russia.
On Thursday, the Washington Post posted on its website a selection of documents it said had been provided by Edward Snowden, who fled the US in June after providing documents detailing NSA surveillance programmes to the Guardian and Washington Post newspapers.
The documents purport to show that the unauthorised interception of telephone calls and emails of Americans and foreign nationals on US soil resulted from errors and departures from standard agency processes, including through a data collection method that a secret US surveillance court later ruled unconstitutional.
The documents offer more detail into the agency practices than is typically shared with members of Congress, the US justice department, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
The NSA broke privacy rules and overstepped its legal authority thousands of times in the past two years
An internal audit dated May 2012 counted 2,776 incidents over the previous 12 months of unauthorised data collection. The rate of violations grew significantly each quarter, from 546 in the second quarter of 2011 to 865 in the first quarter of 2012.
It is unclear how many individuals were subjected to unauthorised surveillance.
NSA auditors speculated the number of incidents jumped in the first quarter of 2012 because a large number of Chinese surveillance targets visited the US for the Chinese New Year. NSA surveillance of foreign nationals while they are on US soil is restricted.
According to an internal NSA audit report detailing the incidents in the first quarter of 2012, the majority occurred due to “operator error”, usually from failure to follow procedures, typographical errors, insufficient research information, or workload issues.
Other incidents were attributed to “system error”, such as a lack of capabilities or glitches and bugs.
Some data was intercepted when foreign targets entered the US – where NSA surveillance is restricted – but the system was unaware the target had entered US soil.
Other “inadvertent collection incidents” were targets believed to be non-Americans but who turned out to be US citizens upon further investigation.
In one instance in 2008, a “large number” of calls placed from Washington DC were intercepted after an error in a computer program entered “202” – the telephone area code for Washington DC – into a data query instead of “20”, the country code for Egypt.
In another case, the agency vacuumed up vast amounts of international data from a fibre optic cable running through the US into an NSA computer, where it was stored and analysed. Months later, the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ruled the programme violated the search and seizure protections afforded by the US constitution.
Edward Snowden has been charged with espionage in a federal court in the US. He is currently in Russia, where the government of Vladimir Putin has granted him a year of asylum on the condition he cease disclosing secret US government information.
President Barack Obama has defended the series of programmes described in Edward Snowden’s leaks, but has promised reforms to guarantee greater oversight.
“Given the history of abuse by governments, it’s right to ask questions about surveillance, particularly as technology is reshaping every aspect of our lives,” Barack Obama said last week.
Movie star Matt Damon says he no longer has a crush on President Barack Obama.
“He broke up with me,” Matt Damon said in an interview published online Thursday.
Matt Damon told BET that he and the president “no longer see eye-to-eye”.
“There are a lot of things that I really question, specifically about the Obama administration’s national security posture.”
“The legality of the drone strikes,” Matt Damon said, “and these NSA revelations are – like, you know – Jimmy Carter came out and said we don’t live in a democracy. That’s a little intense when an ex-president says that. So you know, he’s got some explaining to do, particularly for a constitutional law professor.”
Barack Obama has come under fire for presiding over an NSA with a mandate for domestic spying. The agency’s biggest secrets are now exposed publicly since contractor Edward Snowden leaked them to the press and fled to Russia.
And the president has faced growing outrage from Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and other libertarian-minded Republicans, following his Department of Justice’s longtime refusal to guarantee that it won’t use drones to surveil Americans – an assurance it gave only in the face of an embarrassing Senate filibuster.
Matt Damon no longer has a crush on President Barack Obama
The White House continues to use unmanned drones as first-strike weapons against terrorism targets overseas.
Matt Damon campaigned aggressively for then-Senator Obama during the 2008 election season. Nine days before the 2008 election, Matt Damon told a room full of volunteers in Florida that they should work hard to “make sure Barack wins”.
But in the president’s second term, the bloom is clearly off the rose.
Matt Damon told reporters in August 2011 that he was “really dissatisfied” with Barack Obama “doubling down” on George W. Bush’s “bad ideas” for education.
Three months later in an interview with Elle magazine Matt Damon said: “I’ve talked to a lot of people who worked for Obama at the grassroots level. One of them said to me, <<Never again. I will never be fooled again by a politician>>.”
“You know, a one-term president with some balls who actually got stuff done would have been, in the long run of the country, much better.”
Matt Damon’s criticism of Barack Obama began in late 2010, and by April 2011 the president was ready to fire back, albeit in good fun.
“It’s fair to say that when it comes to my presidency, the honeymoon is over,” Barack Obama said at the White House Correspondents Dinner.
“Matt Damon said he was disappointed in my performance. Well Matt, I just saw The Adjustment Bureau so right back atcha buddy.”
Matt Damon has come under fire this week following revelations that despite his long-term advocacy for improving public education, he sends his own children to a private school.
“I pay for a private education and I’m trying to get the one that most matches the public education that I had,” he told The Guardian, “but that kind of progressive education no longer exists in the public system. It’s unfair.”
During a 2011 rally in Washington D.C., Matt Damon told a crowd of teachers that he would not trade his own public school education “for anything”.
Matt Damon’s upcoming film Elysium, which opens Friday, has been panned by conservatives for arguing for a socialist utopia as an alternative to a future world of haves and have-nots.
The Occupy Wall Street-inspired plot line involves a wealthy elite class that has abandoned an overcrowded Earth for a luxury space station, leaving the rest of humanity in crime-ridden and poverty-stricken squalor.
The Obama administration has released documents on its phone-snooping, as a Senate panel questions intelligence officials about the programme.
The declassification was made in the “interest of increased transparency”, intelligence officials said.
However, the three documents include significant redactions.
Meanwhile the father of Edward Snowden, who leaked information about the surveillance, says the FBI has asked him to go to Moscow to see his son.
Lon Snowden told Russian state TV he wants to learn more about the FBI’s intentions. His son is a sought by the US government for revealing details of its electronic snooping by phone and internet.
Meanwhile, slides published by the UK’s Guardian newspaper detailed a secret US surveillance system known as XKeyscore, which reportedly enables American intelligence to monitor “nearly everything a typical user does on the internet”.
The programme includes real-time data and suggests analysts could narrow searches through use of so-called metadata also stored by the NSA, the newspaper reports.
The official US documents released on Wednesday include a court order describing how the data from the programmes would be stored and accessed.
Two reports to US lawmakers on the telephone and email records were also declassified.
But lines in the files, including details on “selection terms” used to search the massive data stores, were blacked out.
For the first time, however, the government acknowledged publicly that using what it calls “hop analysis” it can analyze the phone calls of millions of Americans in the hunt for just one suspect.
NSA analysts could use the records of everyone a suspect calls, and the contacts of those records, as well as everyone who contacts the contacts of contacts of the initial suspect.
The Obama administration has released documents on its phone-snooping
If the average person calls 40 unique people, such three-hop analysis could allow the government to mine the records of 2.5 million Americans when investigating one suspected terrorist.
“What’s being described as a very narrow program is really a very broad program,” Democratic Senator Richard Durbin said.
Deputy Attorney General James Cole told a Senate judiciary committee hearing on Wednesday that the court order spells out how the government can use call data obtained from telecom giants such as Verizon.
It is the first congressional session on the issue since the House narrowly rejected a proposal to effectively shut down the NSA’s secretive collection of hundreds of millions of Americans’ phone records.
During the early parts of the hearing, NSA deputy director John Inglis said “no” when asked if anyone had been fired over the leak.
“No-one has offered to resign,” John Inglis said.
“Everyone is working hard to understand what happened.”
Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy, the chairman of the committee, also questioned the deputy director on the number of attacks the agency said had been disrupted by the programmes.
General Keith Alexander, the head of the NSA, has said phone and internet surveillance disrupted 54 schemes by militants.
Sen. Patrick Leahy said a list of the relevant plots provided to Congress does not reflect dozens or, as he said, “let alone 54 as some have suggested”.
John Inglis said the phone surveillance helped disrupt or discover attacks 12 times, and the larger number were foiled thanks to both the phone-records snooping and a second programme collecting global internet users’ data.
In a letter to lawmakers last week, the Obama administration acknowledged there had been an unspecific number of “compliance problems” with the rules governing the secret collection of US phone records.
But the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, said no intentional or bad-faith rules violations were found.
Edward Snowden, the NSA contractor that released the information, has been stuck in transit at a Moscow airport for more than a month after the US revoked his travel documents.
He said he has applied for asylum in Russia but has not been able to leave the airport.
Edward Snowden’s father, Lon Snowden, said in the interview with Russian state TV on Wednesday, he believes his son would not get a fair trial in America and, if he were in his son’s place, he would stay in Russia.
He described his son as a “true patriot” who had “made America a more democratic country” by revealing secret details of the US National Security Agency’s surveillance programmes.
“Edward, I hope you are watching this,” Lon Snowden said in the interview.
“Your family is well. We love you. We hope you are healthy, we hope you are well, I hope to see you soon, but most of all I want you to be safe. I want you to find a safe haven.”
The US House of Representatives has rejected the Amash amendment, voting to continue collecting data on phone calls, in the first legislative move on the programme.
In a 205-217 vote, lawmakers rejected an effort to restrict the National Security Agency’s (NSA) ability to collect electronic information.
The NSA’s chief had lobbied strongly against the proposed measure.
The vote saw an unusual coalition of conservatives and liberal Democrats join forces against the programme.
The details of the NSA dragnet were made public by Edward Snowden, a former contractor for America’s electronic spying agency. He is now a fugitive, seeking asylum in Moscow.
The rejected amendment would have blocked funding for the NSA programme which gathers details of every call made by or to a US phone, unless the records were part of a specific investigation.
The amendment was introduced by Michigan Republican Justin Amash, who warned during Wednesday’s debate that the proposal’s critics would “use the same tactic every government throughout history has used to justify its violation of rights: fear”.
The US House of Representatives has rejected the Amash amendment, voting to continue collecting data on phone calls
“They’ll tell you that the government must violate the rights of the American people to protect us against those who hate our freedom.”
Despite the White House’s lobbying against the amendment, a majority of House Democrats – 111 – voted for it. Eighty-three Democrats voted against.
Among Republicans, 94 voted for the Amash amendment and 134 against.
Before Wednesday’s vote there were fierce exchanges on the House floor during what was the first sustained legislative debate on the NSA’s reach since Edward Snowden’s revelations.
“We’ve really gone overboard on the security side,” said Democratic Representative Peter Welch of the surveillance, which is part of a classified $30 billion intelligence budget.
But others said the practice was essential in America’s efforts against terrorism.
“Have 12 years gone by and our memories faded so badly that we forgot what happened on September 11?” said Mike Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee.
Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann, not usually noted for her support of President Barack Obama, also backed the administration’s stance.
“Let us not deal in false narratives,” she said.
“Let’s deal in facts that will keep Americans safe.”
But Republican Jim Sensenbrenner, one of the original authors of the Bush-era Patriot Act, said “the time has come” to stop harvesting phone records.
On the eve of the vote, in a rare statement against a legislative amendment, the White House called the Amash proposal a “blunt approach” that would hamper US anti-terrorism efforts.
NSA director General Keith Alexander held separate, closed-door sessions with Republicans and Democrats on Tuesday to lobby them against the bill.
Another NSA surveillance programme, PRISM, allows the agency to sweep up global internet usage data through nine major US-based providers.
The programmes’ supporters say such surveillance has helped thwart at least 50 terror plots in 20 countries, including up to a dozen directed at the US.
Divided opinion in the US about the snooping was highlighted by a CBS News poll on Wednesday.
The survey found that 67% of Americans opposed the government’s collection of phone records, but 52% said it was necessary to counter terrorism.
The White House is urging Congress to reject an attempt to stop the NSA collecting Americans’ phone records.
With a key vote coming up, President Barack Obama’s spokesman said curbs on the NSA would “hastily dismantle” a vital counter-terrorism tool.
NSA chief General Keith Alexander spent Tuesday lobbying Congressmen to vote against the proposed measure.
Critics say NSA phone data collection is an unwarranted invasion of privacy.
The details of the programme were made public by Edward Snowden, who had worked for the NSA and is now a fugitive, awaiting a decision on his asylum application in Moscow.
House of Representatives Republican Congressman Justin Amash has introduced an amendment to a defense spending bill, which would block funding for the NSA’s programme to collect details of every call made by or to a US phone.
Justin Amash said: “My amendment blocks funding of NSA’s collection of personal data if that data does not pertain to a person under investigation.”
A vote on the amendment will take place on Wednesday.
Republican Congressman Justin Amash has introduced an amendment to a defense spending bill, which would block funding for the NSA’s programme to collect details of every call made by or to a US phone
Even if it passes the House, the measure is seen as unlikely to become law, as Barack Obama’s Democratic Party controls the Senate.
House Democrats John Conyers and Jared Polis supported the move, which they said “makes sure that innocent Americans’ information isn’t needlessly swept up into a government database”.
However, the White House said the measure would deprive the intelligence agencies of a key tool in preventing terror attacks.
“This blunt approach is not the product of an informed, open or deliberative process,” said spokesman Jay Carney.
“We urge the House to reject the Amash amendment, and instead move forward with an approach that appropriately takes into account the need for a reasoned review of what tools can best secure the nation.”
NSA head Gen. Keith Alexander held separate, closed-door sessions with Republicans and Democrats on the eve of the vote in an attempt to persuade them to vote against.
Afterwards he told CNN: “What you can see is that everybody wants to ensure we protect civil liberties and privacy and defend this country.
“We have that responsibility, and the issue is, how do we do that? How do we take care of our people and protect our civil liberties and privacy? This is a tough issue.”
The issue has split the main parties, with Democrats and Republicans lining up on both sides of the debate.
Meanwhile it is thought possible that Russia will announce whether Edward Snowden has been successful in his application for temporary asylum in the country.
Edward Snowden has been in limbo in a Moscow airport for weeks, but his lawyer Anatoly Kucherena says Wednesday is the deadline for the Federal Migration Service to rule on his request.
A number of Latin American states say they are willing to offer the former intelligence systems analyst asylum, but the lawyer says Edward Snowden first needs Russian asylum in order to be able to travel, since the US has cancelled his passport.
The US has charged Edward Snowden with leaking classified information.
President Vladimir Putin has refused to hand him to US authorities, but says he can only stay in Russia if he stops leaking secrets about US surveillance schemes.
According to the French daily Le Monde, France’s foreign intelligence service intercepts computer and telephone data on a vast scale, like the controversial US Prism programme.
The data is stored on a supercomputer at the headquarters of the DGSE intelligence service, the paper says.
The operation is “outside the law, and beyond any proper supervision”, Le Monde says.
Other French intelligence agencies allegedly access the data secretly.
France’s foreign intelligence service intercepts computer and telephone data on a vast scale, like the controversial US Prism programme
It is not clear however whether the DGSE surveillance goes as far as Prism. So far French officials have not commented on Le Monde‘s allegations.
The DGSE allegedly analyses the “metadata” – not the contents of e-mails and other communications, but the data revealing who is speaking to whom, when and where.
Connections inside France and between France and other countries are all monitored, Le Monde reports.
The paper alleges the data is being stored on three basement floors of the DGSE building in Paris.
The operation is designed, say experts, to uncover terrorist cells. But the scale of it means that “anyone can be spied on, any time”, Le Monde says.
There is a continuing international furor over revelations that the US has been systematically seizing vast amounts of phone and web data.
The French government has sharply criticized the US spying, which allegedly included eavesdropping on official EU communications.
The scale of surveillance by America’s National Security Agency (NSA) emerged from classified intelligence documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Russia has had no involvement in the travel plans of fugitive intelligence leaker Edward Snowden.
Edward Snowden’s whereabouts are unclear after he flew from Hong Kong to Moscow on Sunday. His US passport has been revoked.
Sergei Lavrov insisted Edward Snowden had not crossed the border and rejected what he termed US attempts to blame Russia for his disappearance.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said the US did not seek “confrontation” but Russia should hand over Edward Snowden.
Correspondents say Sergei Lavrov’s comments suggest that Edward Snowden remained air-side after landing at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, and so has technically never entered Russian territory.
“We are in no way involved with either Mr. Snowden, his relations with US justice, nor to his movements around the world,” Sergei Lavrov said.
“He chose his itinerary on his own. We learnt about it… from the media. He has not crossed the Russian border.
“We consider the attempts to accuse the Russian side of violating US laws, and practically of involvement in a plot, to be absolutely groundless and unacceptable.”
Edward Snowden, 30, is wanted by the US for revealing to the media details of a secret government surveillance programme, which he obtained while working as a contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA).
Speaking during a visit to Saudi Arabia, John Kerry said the transfer of Edward Snowden was a matter of rule of law, and that Russia should remain “calm”.
Edward Snowden’s whereabouts are unclear after he flew from Hong Kong to Moscow
Edward Snowden is charged with theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information and willful communication of classified communications intelligence.
He has applied for asylum in Ecuador. The US has revoked his passport.
Reuters news agency quotes a Moscow airport source as saying that Edward Snowden arrived in Moscow from Hong Kong on Sunday afternoon and was due to depart for the Cuban capital, Havana, the following day, but did not use the ticket.
The source said he was travelling with Sarah Harrison, a British legal researcher working for the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks.
Meanwhile, China has also described US accusations that it facilitated the departure of fugitive Edward Snowden from Hong Kong as “groundless and unacceptable”.
A foreign ministry spokeswoman said the Hong Kong government had handled the former US intelligence officer’s case in accordance with the law.
The White House had criticized what it termed “a deliberate choice to release a fugitive despite a valid arrest warrant”.
The Chinese government has expressed deep concern about Edward Snowden’s allegations that the US had hacked into networks in China.
Tuesday saw the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party praise Edward Snowden for “tearing off Washington’s sanctimonious mask”.
In a strongly worded front-page commentary, the overseas edition of the People’s Daily said: “Not only did the US authorities not give us an explanation and apology, it instead expressed dissatisfaction at the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region for handling things in accordance with law.
“In a sense, the United States has gone from a <<model of human rights>> to <<an eavesdropper on personal privacy>>, the <<manipulator>> of the centralized power over the international internet, and the mad <<invader>> of other countries’ networks.”
Speaking during a visit to India, US Secretary of State John Kerry said it would be “deeply troubling” if it became clear that China had “willfully” allowed him to fly out of Hong Kong.
“There would be without any question some effect and impact on the relationship and consequences,” he said.
He also called on Russia to “live by the standards of the law because that’s in the interests of everybody”.
Edward Snowden was in hiding in Hong Kong when his leaks were first published.
He is being supported by the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks, which said on Sunday that he was heading to Ecuador accompanied by some of its diplomats and legal advisers.
Ecuador is already giving political asylum at its London embassy to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Edward Snowden’s leaks have led to revelations that the US is systematically seizing vast amounts of phone and web data under an NSA programme known as PRISM.
US officials have defended the practice of gathering telephone and internet data from private users around the world.
They say PRISM cannot be used to target intentionally any Americans or anyone in the US, and stress that it is supervised by judges.
Secretary of State John Kerry has said US would be “disappointing” if Russia and China had helped fugitive Edward Snowden evade US attempts to extradite him from Hong Kong.
Speaking during a visit to India, John Kerry said there would inevitably be “consequences” to such a move.
Edward Snowden flew from Hong Kong to Moscow on Sunday.
A seat was booked in his name on a flight to Cuba on Monday morning, but he is not thought to have boarded.
Edward Snowden has applied to Ecuador for political asylum, but the country’s foreign minister has implied he is still in Russia.
And speaking at a news briefing later on Monday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said: “It is our understanding that he [Edward Snowden] is still in Russia.”
He added that senior US officials were briefing President Barack Obama regularly about all the developments.
Edward Snowden, 30, is wanted by the US for revealing to the media details of a secret government surveillance programme, which he obtained while working as an IT contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA).
He is charged with theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information and willful communication of classified communications intelligence.
Speaking during a visit to Delhi in India, John Kerry told reporters it would “be obviously disappointing if he was willfully allowed to board an airplane”.
“As a result there would be without any question some effect and impact on the relationship and consequences.”
Edward Snowden is believed to have spent the night in an airside hotel at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport. The US has revoked his passport and wants Russia to hand him over.
John Kerry urged Moscow to “live by the standards of the law because that’s in the interests of everybody”.
John Kerry has said US would be “disappointing” if Russia and China had helped fugitive Edward Snowden evade US attempts to extradite him from Hong Kong
“In the last two years we have transferred seven prisoners to Russia that they wanted so I think reciprocity and the enforcement of the law is pretty important,” he said.
The decision not to “provisionally arrest” Edward Snowden in Hong Kong “unquestionably has a negative impact on the US-China relationship”, he said.
He added that senior US officials were briefing President Barack Obama regularly about all the developments, and called on Russia to use all options to expel the former US spy agency contractor.
Meanwhile, Russia’s Interfax state news agency quoted an informed source as saying Moscow was considering a US extradition request, but that Edward Snowden had not officially crossed the Russian border so could not be detained.
Edward Snowden was in hiding in Hong Kong when his leaks were first published.
During a visit to Vietnam on earlier Monday, Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino read out a letter Edward Snowden had sent to request asylum, in which he said he was “at risk of being persecuted by the US and its agents”.
Ricardo Patino confirmed that his country was processing an asylum request from Edward Snowden.
Quito was in contact with Moscow who could “make the decision it feels is most convenient in accordance with its laws and politics and in accordance with the international laws and norms that could be applied to this case”, he said.
When asked whether he knew of Edward Snowden’s current location he declined to answer.
“We will consider the position of the US government and we will take a decision in due course,” he said, saying Ecuador put the protection of human rights “above any other interest”.
The US and Ecuador have a joint extradition treaty, but it is not applicable to “crimes or offences of a political character”.
Edward Snowden is being supported by the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks, which said on Sunday that he was heading to Ecuador accompanied by some of its diplomats and legal advisers.
Ecuador is already giving political asylum at its London embassy to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange – which he denies.
On Monday, Julian Assange said Edward Snowden was “healthy and safe”, and travelling to Ecuador “via a safe path through Russia and other states”.
He said Edward Snowden had left Hong Kong on a refugee document of passage issued by Ecuador, and was not carrying any NSA secrets with him.
Edward Snowden’s leaks have led to revelations that the US is systematically seizing vast amounts of phone and web data under an NSA programme known as PRISM.
He earlier said he had decided to speak out after observing “a continuing litany of lies” from senior officials to Congress.
US officials have defended the practice of gathering telephone and internet data from private users around the world.
They say PRISM cannot be used to intentionally target any Americans or anyone in the US, and that it is supervised by judges.
Edward Snowden, the former intelligence contractor who leaked documents on US surveillance programmes, has defended himself in an online chat, the Guardian reports.
Edward Snowden, 29, said US officials had destroyed any possibility of a fair trial by labelling him a traitor.
The former CIA contractor also denied suggestions he was a Chinese agent and repeated his claim that intelligence analysts could wiretap any phone call or email.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has denied such allegations.
James Clapper has said the kind of data that can be accessed, and who can access it, is severely limited.
But in the online chat, Edward Snowden said such restrictions were easily circumvented.
Edward Snowden took to live web chat to defend leaking NSA secrets
He acknowledged that the US internet surveillance programme did have a filter that was meant to exclude American citizens.
But he added: “The filter is constantly out of date, is set at what is euphemistically referred to as the <<widest allowable aperture>>, and can be stripped out at any time.”
Edward Snowden said he had decided to speak out after observing “a continuing litany of lies” from senior officials to Congress.
“The US government, just as they did with other whistleblowers, immediately and predictably destroyed any possibility of a fair trial at home, openly declaring me guilty of treason,” Edward Snowden wrote.
Two influential members of the US Congress last week accused him of betraying his country.
Of claims that he was working for Chinese intelligence, Edward Snowden said: “This is a predictable smear that I anticipated before going public.”
Edward Snowden added that he had no intention of going back to the US or turning himself in.
“The US government is not going to be able to cover this up by jailing or murdering me,” he said.
The British government has warned airlines not to allow Edward Snowden, an ex-CIA employee who leaked secret US surveillance details, to fly to the UK, according to reports.
The Associated Press news agency reported seeing a document at a Thai airport telling carriers to stop Edward Snowden, 29, boarding any flights.
The travel alert – reported to feature a Home Office letterhead – said Edward Snowden “is highly likely to be refused entry to the UK”.
The Home Office would not comment.
According to AP, the alert was issued on Monday by the Home Office’s risk and liaison overseas network.
The document had a photograph of Edward Snowden and gave his date of birth and passport number, the news agency reported.
It said: “If this individual attempts to travel to the UK: Carriers should deny boarding.”
The British government has warned airlines not to allow Edward Snowden to fly to the UK
It went on to warn airlines they may “be liable to costs relating to the individual’s detention and removal” should they allow him to travel.
According to the Home Office website, a charge for such a situation would be £2,000 ($3,130).
Bangkok Airways, Singapore Airlines and Malaysia Airlines confirmed they had received the notice, which was not supposed to be seen by the public, AP reported.
The Home Office does have the power to block people’s entry to the UK in certain circumstances, such as if it believes it is in the public interest to do so.
The powers had been used in the past, including to deny entry to extremist preachers and extremist European politicians.
Edward Snowden was last seen in Hong Kong, where he travelled ahead of the Guardian newspaper’s stories revealing the extent of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) programme to take data from US internet and telephone firms.
There is no suggestion that he has any intention of trying to travel to the UK.
Edward Snowden’s actions have divided opinion in the US, with some calling him a hero and others calling for him to be tried for treason.
Whistleblower Edward Snowden has claimed that the U.S. government has been hacking Hong Kong and Chinese networks for at least four years.
In his first interview since he revealed himself on Sunday, the 29-year-old whistleblower told the South China Morning Post that the NSA has hacked the country’s universities, businesses and politicians.
Edward Snowden claimed the agency had hundreds of targets – including the Chinese University of Hong Kong – from as far back as 2009, but that these were just a fraction of the 61,000 NSA hacking operations carried out globally.
He added that none of the documents revealed any information about Chinese military systems.
“We hack network backbones – like huge internet routers, basically – that give us access to the communications of hundreds of thousands of computers without having to hack every single one,” he explained.
The hour-long interview, which took part in a secret location on Wednesday, came after Snowden fled to Hong Kong from his home in Hawaii on May 20 after leaking sensitive documents about the NSA.
His actions have been both praised and condemned globally, with some hailing him a hero while others, including House Speaker John Boehner, calling him a traitor.
But in the exclusive interview, Edward Snowden said: “I’m neither traitor nor hero. I’m an American.”
He said he will stay in Hong Kong to fight any extradition bid from the U.S, and he hit back against people who have called his choice to flee to Hong Kong a gamble.
“People who think I made a mistake in picking HK as a location misunderstand my intentions,” he said.
“I am not here to hide from justice; I am here to reveal criminality.
“My intention is to ask the courts and people of Hong Kong to decide my fate. I have been given no reason to doubt your system.”
It is believed the U.S. is pursuing a criminal investigation against Edward Snowden, and on Tuesday, sources said officials were preparing to bring charges against him. No extradition request has yet been filed.
In another clip of the interview Edward Snowden said he has heard from a reliable source that the government is “trying to bully the Hong Kong government into extraditing me”.
Edward Snowden has claimed that the U.S. government has been hacking Hong Kong and Chinese networks for at least four years
“I will never feel safe,” Edward Snowden said, adding that he has also not contacted his family because he fears their safety too.
“Things are very difficult for me in all terms, but speaking truth to power is never without risk,” he said.
“It has been difficult, but I have been glad to see the global public speak out against these sorts of systemic violations of privacy.”
His interview comes two days after Edward Snowden checked out of a Hong Kong hotel where he was interviewed by the UK’s Guardian newspaper, which first published the story.
Since then, he has been nowhere to be seen.
In the Guardian interview, Edward Snowden had said he wanted to avoid the media spotlight, noting he didn’t want ‘the story to be about me. I want it to be about what the U.S. government is doing’.
With little new information to report on Edward Snowden or his whereabouts, focus has instead fallen on his American girlfriend, Lindsay Mills, a dancer who posted partially nude photographs of herself online before she also apparently disappeared.
Reporter Ewen MacAskill of the Guardian newspaper, who interviewed Edward Snowden for exclusive stories about his revelations, wrote late Tuesday that ‘it is thought’ Snowden was now in a private home in Hong Kong, but offered no details.
Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, who interviewed Edward Snowden in Hong Kong, has given a series of interviews about the case, but refused to reveal any information about his location or his plans.
The US has been divided in praising or condemning Edward Snowden after he leaked information about a global eavesdropping operation, PRISM, put in place by the government.
“He’s a traitor,” Boehner told ABC on Tuesday.
“The disclosure of this information puts Americans at risk. It shows our adversaries what our capabilities are. And it’s a giant violation of the law.”
Also on Tuesday, Edward Snowden’s employers, Booz Allen Hamilton, announced that it has terminated his contract ‘for violations of the firm’s code of ethics and firm policy’.
It said that the claims he had leaked information were “shocking” – and revealed that he was earning $122,000 rather than the $200,000 he told The Guardian he was paid.
As for his future prospects – although Hong Kong has an extradition treaty with the U.S., the document has some exceptions, including for crimes deemed political.
Any negotiations about his possible handover will involve Beijing, but some believe China is unlikely to want to jeopardize its relationship with the U.S. over someone of little political interest to them.
Edward Snowden also told The Guardian that he may seek asylum in Iceland, which has strong free-speech protections and a tradition of providing a haven for the outspoken and the outcast.
And even Russia has stepped up to say it would consider offering him political asylum if he sought it.
“We will take action based on what actually happens. If we receive such a request, it will be considered,” said the Russian president’s official spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
Whistleblower Edward Snowden, who leaked secret US surveillance details, has vowed to fight any attempt to extradite him from Hong Kong.
Edward Snowden told the South China Morning Post that he was “neither traitor nor hero. I’m an American”.
It is the first interview he has given since disappearing from his hotel room in Hong Kong on Monday.
His leaks led to revelations that the US is systematically seizing vast amounts of phone and web data.
Edward Snowden left Hawaii for Hong Kong shortly before the highly sensitive leaks surfaced.
Whistleblower Edward Snowden has vowed to fight any attempt to extradite him from Hong Kong
“I am not here to hide from justice; I am here to reveal criminality,” Edward Snowden told the Post.
“My intention is to ask the courts and people of Hong Kong to decide my fate.”
US officials have confirmed the existence of a secret programme to draw data from the internet, codenamed Prism.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence gave details of the programme last week, after Edward Snowden’s leaks led to a series of articles in the Guardian and Washington Post newspapers.
According to the office’s statement, PRISM is simply an internal computer system, and not a data-mining programme.
However, such data seizures could break the laws of other countries, and could also break US law if they accidentally capture communications of American citizens.
The European Union is demanding assurances that Europeans are not having their rights infringed by a massive US surveillance programme.
Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding plans to raise the concerns with US Attorney General Eric Holder on Friday.
Last week a series of leaks by a former CIA worker led to claims the US had a vast surveillance network with much less oversight than previously thought.
The US insists its snooping is legal under domestic law.
The Obama administration is investigating whether the disclosures by former CIA worker Edward Snowden were a criminal offence.
Edward Snowden’s employer, defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, said on Tuesday it had fired the 29-year-old infrastructure analyst for violating its ethics code.
US officials say the snooping programme known as PRISM, revealed in last week’s leaks, is authorized under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
It gives the US National Security Agency (NSA) the power to obtain emails and phone records relating to non-US nationals.
But details about the individuals targeted under the act remain secret, and there are concerns the NSA is overstepping its powers.
The EU is demanding assurances that Europeans are not having their rights infringed by US surveillance programme
Documents leaked to the Guardian and Washington Post newspapers claimed the US authorities had direct access to the servers of nine major US technology firms, including Apple, Facebook and Google.
Edward Snowden told the Guardian that individual operatives had the power to tap into anyone’s emails at any time.
Although the firms have denied granting such access, saying they agreed only to legal requests, US officials have admitted PRISM exists.
One of the Guardian journalists who wrote the PRISM stories, Glenn Greenwald, has promised “more significant revelations” to come.
In the US, the controversy has focused on the possibility that conversations of US citizens may inadvertently be captured.
But overseas, governments and activists point out that US law provides foreigners with no protection.
Justice Commissioner Reding tweeted: “This case shows why a clear legal framework for the protection of personal data is not a luxury but a necessity.”
Edward Snowden is believed to be in hiding a day after he reportedly checked out of a Hong Kong hotel.
In the US, Senator Dianne Feinstein, the chairwoman of the Senate intelligence committee, said the American authorities were “aggressively” pursuing him.
The California Democrat also accused Edward Snowden of “an act of treason”.
The top Republican in the US House of Representatives, Speaker John Boehner, labeled Edward Snowden a “traitor”.
“The disclosure of this information puts Americans at risk,” he told ABC News on Tuesday morning.
“And it’s a giant violation of the law.”
The government began wireless wiretapping after the 9/11 attacks, but the surveillance policy expanded under President Barack Obama.
Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who leaked the NSA’s surveillance secrets, thought about marrying his girlfriend Lindsay Mills and had previously taken her on a romantic break to Hong Kong – where he was last seen fearing arrest.
Edward Snowden, 29, and Lindsay mills, 28, were deeply in love and on her blog, she dotingly called him her “man of mystery” who she had followed around the world for the last four years.
On Monday Lindsay Mills took to the blog – where she has posted dozens of photos of herself – to tell of her heartbreak.
She wrote: “My world has opened and closed all at once. Leaving me lost at sea without a compass.
“As I type this on my tear-streaked keyboard I’m reflecting on all the faces that have graced my path.
‘The ones I laughed with. The ones I’ve held. The one I’ve grown to love the most. And the ones I never got to bid adieu.
“But sometimes life doesn’t afford proper goodbyes.”
Edward Snowden fled to Hong Kong after exposing the NSA’s PRISM program which gives officials easy access to data held by nine of the world’s top internet companies, including Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Skype.
It was a heartbreaking turn of events for Lindsay Mills who had lived with Edward Snowden since at least 2009 when they were in Japan together.
Last year Edward Snowden whisked her 8,000 miles from their home south of Baltimore, Maryland to Hong Kong where family friends thought they got married because it was a “special place” for them.
Now he is back there, hiding out and terrified he will be arrested and extradited back to the US for leaking details about how the NSA puts millions of Americans under surveillance.
Lindsay Mills’ blog gives an insight into the ups and downs the couple went through – and her own feelings against the snooping state.
Their relationship may have been brought to an unconventional end – but it hardly seems conventional from the start.
Written under the name “L’s Journey”, Lindsay Mills calls Edward Snowden “E” and her “man of mystery”, whilst referring to herself as a “vagabond”.
On the face of it they are totally different people – she is an extrovert who enjoys walking around whenever she can, spends her Sunday evenings in circus classes and surrounds herself with bohemian eccentrics.
The title of her blog reads: “Adventures of a world-traveling, pole-dancing super hero.”
Edward Snowden by contrast is a shy computer geek from a suburban family who likes to spend Sundays at football games and needs to be coaxed out of his shell to even do karaoke.
Lindsay Mills writes that when she finally introduced him to her friends in Hawaii they didn’t believe he actually existed because he was so hard to pin down.
Before they moved to Hawaii they spent their days doing things like camping, pumpkin picking or skeet shooting together near their Maryland homes.
He bought her gifts like a Star Trek style visor and took many of the dozens of pictures of her on her blog.
Some of the posts now have a certain irony, such as her joking that she likes pretending to be a spy.
Their lives also seem to be very much up in the air and she writes of having traveled through 17 countries in her life.
In March last year she writes of how her “inevitable lover Change is knocking and I wish I had an answer for him”.
Lindsay Mills wrote: “We received word that we have to move out of our house by May 1.
“E is transferring jobs. And I am looking to take a mini trip back East. Do I move with E, on my own, to Antarctica? How long do I spend back home and when should I go?
“For now I’ll spin my magic ball and see where I land.”
Edward Snowden thought about marrying his girlfriend Lindsay Mills and had previously taken her on a romantic break to Hong Kong
That month Edward Snowden moved to Hawaii and two months later Lindsay Mills joined him.
She freely admits that it was to save their relationship as they appear to having been going through a rocky patch that continues after her arrival.
She writes how she seriously considers taking a plane home most days and that she can’t settle down – until July comes.
According to the rest of the blog, it was all idyllic until earlier this month, when the darkness returned to their lives.
Writing on June 3, Lindsay Mills said: “While I have been patiently asking the universe for a livelier schedule, I’m not sure I meant for it to dump half a year’s worth of experience in my lap in two weeks time.
“We’re talking biblical stuff – floods, deceit, loss. Somehow I’ve only managed a few tears amongst all of the madness of May.”
Another revealing aspect of her blog is that Lindsay Mills seems to share Edward Snowden’s views on the surveillance society.
Writing on July 4 last year Lindsay Mills said that the America she loves is “ever-changing” and that she is in “fear it’s straying from the freedom it has always represented”.
She wrote: “America is still one of the greatest, but she’s falling in my eyes. I hope her people see where she’s going and ask themselves <<is this really how I want to live?>>.
Another post will be of interest to investigators looking to find out what she knew – a poster in protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which is currently being considered by Congress.
If passed SOPA will make copyright rules more strictly enforced to a level which Mills claims is draconian.
On her blog she writes in terms that sound as if they could have been written by Snowden himself.
She wrote: “Normally I’d be hitting you with a riveting entry about my super hero life, but today I wanted to join others in protest of SOPA.
“A bill that poses to allow the government to control the very thing you’re reading my blog on – the internet. The way users (people like you and me) share information and ideas freely across the internet would most certainly change.”
She then urged readers to sign a petition and email their Congressional representatives.
Edward Snowden left Lindsay Mills behind in Hawaii weeks ago when he leaked classified information about PRISM, a secret government phone surveillance program that harvests data on millions of Americans from telecommunications and online companies.
He never told her where he was going or what he was doing – only that he needed to leave for a few weeks.
Edward Snowden is currently on the run, location unknown, after he fled the Hong Kong hotel where he is holed up
The TV news program Inside Edition claims to have tracked Lindsay Mills down in Hawaii, where she is the member of an acrobatic troupe.
It appears that she was performing with the Waikiki Acrobatic Troupe. She also took classes last year from another troupe, Samadhi Hawaii, though never performed with the company.
Lindsay Mills lives in the home that Edward Snowden, a private contractor making $200,000 working with the National Security Agency (NSA), rented in Hawaii.
She graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art and is a former ballet dancer.
When Edward Snowden revealed his identity in the Guardian newspaper on Sunday, he also revealed that his girlfriend knew nothing of his plans to make the biggest leak of classified government information since WikiLeaks.
Edward Snowden told the newspaper that Lindsay Mills was not surprised that he was packing his backs and not telling her where he was going.
“That is not an uncommon occurrence for someone who has spent the last decade working in the intelligence world,” he explained to the Guardian.
FBI agents visited the Pennsylvania home of Edward Snowden’s father and stepmother, just hours after the 29-year-old NSA whistleblower checked out of his plush Hong Kong hotel and went on the run from U.S. and Chinese authorities.
Two men, identifying themselves as FBI agents, dropped in on Lonnie Snowden, 52, and his wife Karen Snowden, 48, at their property in Upper Macungie Township, as the couple were still “digesting and processing” the news about their son.
Karen Snowden said on Sunday night that they had been “bombarded” by media since Edward Snowden revealed himself to have leaked top-secret documents detailing the government’s extensive surveillance programs.
The woman refused to give any details about her stepson, other than what he’d already offered up in interviews, but she told Lehigh Valley’s The Morning Call the family would be making a public statement in the coming days.
According to mcall.com, shortly after Karen Snowden shut the door, the two men approached the house, telling a photographer they were agents with the Allentown FBI office.
Lonnie Snowden, a former officer in the Coast Guard, told ABC News on Sunday that he had last seen his son “months ago” for dinner and the pair hugged as they said goodbye.
Tammy Reck, a neighbor, told mcall.com that she spoke briefly to the couple on Sunday, when they came out front to warn the residents of the media firestorm that was about to descend.
She said Karen Snowden was upset at the possibility of never seeing her stepson again.
“Not seeing a child anymore, that’s sad, no matter how old that child is,” Tammy Reck said.
The woman described the couple, who were married around five years ago in a backyard wedding, as “great neighbors”. On her Twitter feed, Karen Snowdon describes herself as a certified physical therapist specializing in women’s health, the pelvic area and obstetrics.
She has lived at her current address since at least 1998, records show. Lonnie Snowden lived in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, where Edward Snowden was raised, then Crofton, Maryland, with his son’s biological mother Elizabeth Snowden, 52.
The whistleblower told The Guardian his family had no idea what he was planning, and that their safety was his greatest fear.
Two FBI agents dropped in on Lonnie Snowden and his wife Karen Snowden at their property in Upper Macungie Township
New York Republican Peter King, a member of the House Intelligence Committee and chairman of a House Homeland Security subcommittee, was the first to claim the former CIA worker, who he said “has done extreme damage to the US and to our intelligence operations”, should be brought home to face charges.
In a written statement today, Peter King said: “If Edward Snowden did in fact leak the NSA data as he claims, the United States government must prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law and begin extradition proceedings at the earliest date.
“The United States must make it clear that no country should be granting this individual asylum. This is a matter of extraordinary consequence to American intelligence.”
Republican senator for South Dakota John Thune later echoed Peter King’s views.
“As long as you have laws on the books, and we do, you’ve got to enforce the laws,” he told CNBC.
“This is somebody who – it appears, at least – leaked sensitive classified information, and I think he needs to be prosecuted.”
And Republican senator for South Carolina Lindsey Graham tweeted on Monday afternoon: “I hope we follow Mr. Snowden to the ends of the earth to bring him to justice.”
Meanwhile, former UN Ambassador John Bolton told a US radio station he thinks Snowden is guilty of treason.
In a passionate tirade on WLS, John Bolton said: “Number one, this man is a liar. He took an oath to keep the secrets that were shared with him so he could do his job.
“Number two, he lied because he thinks he’s smarter and has a higher morality than the rest of us… that he can see clearer than other 299-million 999-thousand 999 of us, and therefore he can do what he wants. I say that is the worst form of treason.”
Edward Snowden could face decades in jail if he is extradited from Hong Kong, said Mark Zaid, a lawyer who represents whistleblowers.
According to The Daily Beast, Edward Snowden was already being hunted by government officials even before last week’s explosive news stories triggered shockwaves across the globe.
The Daily Beast’s sources, former U.S. intelligence officers, said the agents trailing Edward Snowden work for the Associate Directorate for Security and Counterintelligence, or “the Q Group”. The same group are more urgently searching for the whistleblower now.
The directorate in effect is the National Security Agency’s internal police force. The group monitor the NSA’s staff and contractors for unusual behavior that may pose an intelligence risk, the Beast writes.
The whistleblower, who earned $200,000 a year, exposed chilling details of how the covert agency, based in Maryland, gathers private information from Americans and others around the world using a program called PRISM.
Revealing why he blew the whistle Edward Snowden said on Sunday: “I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under.”
On Monday, Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971, hailed Edward Snowden a hero for fighting back against the government’s invasion of privacy.
“I think there has not been a more significant or helpful leak or unauthorized disclosure in American history ever than what Edward Snowden shared with The Guardian about the NSA — and that definitely includes the Pentagon Papers,” Daniel Ellsberg told The Daily Beast.
Edward Snowden spoke to The Guardian and Washington Post newspapers from a room in Hong Kong’s five star Mira Hotel, located in the Tsim Sha Tsui neighborhood just across the harbor from the mainland.
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