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President Barack Obama is to announce changes to NSA’s electronic spy programs after revelations made by Edward Snowden.
The president aims to restore public confidence in the intelligence community.
Barack Obama is expected to create a public advocate at the secretive court that approves intelligence collection.
The president’s proposals come hours after UK media reports that the US has collected and stored almost 200 million text messages per day across the globe.
According to the Guardian newspaper and Channel Four News, the National Security Agency (NSA) program extracted and stored data from the SMS messages to gather location information, contacts and financial data.
The report is the latest in a series of revelations from files leaked by Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor charged in the US with espionage and currently a fugitive in Russia.
Barack Obama’s speech on Friday at Department of Justice comes after a five-person White House panel given the job of reviewing US electronic spying programs in the wake of Edward Snowden’s disclosures presented their report in December.
President Barack Obama is to announce changes to NSA’s electronic spy programs after revelations made by Edward Snowden
Among their recommendations was the creation of a public advocate position at the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), where judges have approved the mass spying program. Currently, only the US government is represented in front of FISC judges.
In details leaked to various US media by the White House, Barack Obama is expected to endorse that position, as well as extending some privacy protections for foreigners.
He is also expected to include increased oversight of how the US monitors foreign leaders and to limit how long some data can be stored.
However Barack Obama is not expected to endorse one of the panel’s headline recommendations – shifting the storage of phone records from the NSA to the telecommunications firm or a third party where it can be queried under limited conditions.
He is expected to leave the decision on whether that should be implemented to Congress.
Civil rights and privacy groups were wary ahead of the speech.
The Guardian report describes an NSA program called Dishfire, which analyses SMS messages to extract information including contacts from missed call alerts, location from roaming and travel alerts, financial information from bank alerts and payments and names from electronic business cards,
It also alleges that the NSA’s UK counterpart GCHQ searched the NSA’s database for information regarding people in the UK.
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According to new reports, the NSA is building a quantum computer to break the encryption that keeps messages secure.
The NSA project came to light in documents passed to the Washington Post by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
The agency hopes to harness the special qualities of quantum computers to speed up its code-cracking efforts.
The NSA is believed to have spent about $80 million on the project but it has yet to produce a working machine.
If the NSA managed to develop a working quantum computer it would be put to work breaking encryption systems used online and by foreign governments to keep official messages secure, suggest the documents excerpted in the Post.
The quantum computer is being developed under a research program called Penetrating Hard Targets and is believed to be conducted out of a lab in Maryland.
The NSA is building a quantum computer to break the encryption that keeps messages secure
Many research groups around the world are pursuing the goal of creating a working quantum computer but those developed so far have not been able to run the algorithms required to break contemporary encryption systems.
Current computers attempt to crack encryption via many different means but they are limited to generating possible keys to unscramble data one at a time. Using big computers can speed this up but the huge numbers used as keys to lock away data limits the usefulness of this approach.
By contrast, quantum computers exploit properties of matter that, under certain conditions, mean the machine can carry out lots and lots of calculations simultaneously. This makes it practical to try all the possible keys protecting a particular message or stream of data.
The hard part of creating a working quantum computer is keeping enough of its constituent computational elements, called qubits, stable so they can interact and be put to useful work.
The NSA is not believed to have made significant breakthroughs in its work that would put it ahead of research efforts elsewhere in the US and Europe. However, the documents passed to the Post by Edward Snowden suggest the NSA’s researchers are having some success developing the basic building blocks for the machine.
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New details of people and institutions targeted by the US and UK surveillance have been published by The Guardian, The New York Times and Der Spiegel.
The papers say that the list of around 1,000 targets includes a EU commissioner, humanitarian organizations and an Israeli PM.
The secret documents were leaked by Edward Snowden, now a fugitive in Russia.
They suggest over 60 countries were targets of the NSA and Britain’s GCHQ.
Edward Snowden left the US in late May, taking a large cache of top secret documents with him
The reports are likely to spark more international concern about the surveillance operations carried out by the US and the UK.
News that the National Security Agency (NSA) had monitored the phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel triggered a diplomatic row between Berlin and Washington in October.
The New York Times that GCHQ monitored the communications of foreign leaders – including African heads of state and sometimes their family members – and directors of UN and other relief programmes.
The paper reports that the emails of Israeli officials were monitored, including one listed as “Israeli prime minister”. The PM at the time, 2009, was Ehud Olmert.
The Guardian wrote that GCHQ targeted the UN development programme, UNICEF, German government buildings and the EU Competition Commissioner, Joaquin Almunia.
According to new Washington Post report, the National Security Agency (NSA) tracks the locations of nearly 5 billion cellphones every day overseas, including those belonging to Americans abroad.
The NSA inadvertently gathers the location records of “tens of millions of Americans who travel abroad” annually, along with the billions of other records it collects by tapping into worldwide mobile network cables, the newspaper said in a report on its website.
Such data means the NSA can track the movements of almost any cellphone around the world, and map the relationships of the cellphone user. The Post said a powerful analytic computer program called CO-TRAVELER crunches the data of billions of unsuspecting people, building patterns of relationships between them by where their phones go. That can reveal a previously unknown terrorist suspect, in guilt by cellphone-location association, for instance.
Former NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden
As the NSA doesn’t know which part of the data it might need, the agency keeps up to 27 terabytes, or more than double the text content of the Library of Congress’ print collection, the Post said. A 2012 internal NSA document said the volumes of data from the location program were “outpacing our ability to ingest, process and store” it, the newspaper said.
The program is detailed in documents given to the newspaper by former NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden. The Post also quotes unidentified NSA officials, saying they spoke with the permission of their agency.
Shawn Turner, a spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, declined to comment on the report.
The DNI’s general counsel, Robert Litt, has said that NSA does not intentionally gather bulk location data on US cellphones inside the US — but NSA Director Keith Alexander testified before Congress his agency ran tests in 2010 and 2011 on “samples” of US cell-site data to see if it was technically possible to plug such data into NSA analysis systems.
Keith Alexander said that the information was never used for intelligence purposes and that the testing was reported to congressional intelligence committees. He said it was determined to be of little “operational value,” so the NSA did not ask for permission to gather such data.
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India will impose a ban on the use of foreign cloud-based email services to send official communications, before the end of the year.
It would prevent civil servants using Gmail, Yahoo! or Outlook.com.
Instead they would be required to use a service provided by the country’s own National Informatics Centre (NIC).
The move follows the publication of leaks about US cyber-spying operations.
According to documents given to the Guardian and subsequently reported by The Hindu newspaper in June, 6.3 billion pieces of information were collected from India’s computer and telephone networks over the course of a month by the US NSA, making it the fifth most “intensively watched” country.
India’s communications and IT minister first announced his intention to restrict which email services officials could use in August.
He added that staff working outside the country should use virtual private networks and one-time passwords when accessing NIC servers to further protect themselves.
India will impose a ban on the use of foreign cloud-based email services to send official communications, before the end of the year
“It is imperative in view of the security concerns that exist in other countries,” Kapil Sibal said at the time.
One of the minister’s officials has now confirmed the plan is close to implementation.
“Our effort will be to operationalise the policy by mid or end-December,” said J Satyanarayana, secretary at the Department of Electronics and Information Technology, at a conference in Delhi.
India is not the only country implementing such measures.
Earlier this month Brazil’s president confirmed her country planned to set up its own secure, encrypted email service to “prevent possible espionage”.
The move would prevent the NSA and GCHQ (the UK Government Communications Headquarters) monitoring locally sent and received messages unless Brazilians allowed them access to their servers or if the emails were sent to an account belonging to a non-protected service.
President Dilma Rousseff, in a speech at the UN. described the suspected interception of Brazilian diplomats’ data as “a breach of international law”.
However, India’s ministers have been less vocal about the issue.
“This is not scrutiny and access to actual messages,” said India’s External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid in July when questioned about the alleged surveillance of his country.
“It is only computer analysis of patterns of calls and emails that are being sent. It is not actually snooping specifically on content of anybody’s message or conversation.”
India is in the process of creating its own data intercept scheme called the Centralized Monitoring System.
Local telecoms operators have been told they must co-operate with the surveillance effort, which involves a variety of local security agencies.
According to a document leaked by Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency (NSA) collects up to 250 million online address books each year.
The NSA document was leaked to the Washington Post and shows a collection of contact lists from both foreign and US email and instant message accounts.
Scrutinizing such lists allows the NSA to find hidden connections between people of interest to them, it says.
The web firms involved said that they did not give direct access to the NSA.
During a single day last year, the NSA collected 444,743 email address books from Yahoo, 105,068 from Hotmail, 82,857 from Facebook and 33,697 from Gmail, according to the alleged internal NSA Powerpoint presentation.
Another 22,881 address books were harvested from unspecified providers, according to the Washington Post.
In response to earlier allegations, Yahoo said that it would begin to encrypt email connections from next year. Meanwhile Facebook called for greater government transparency about data collection and Microsoft said the revelations raised “significant concerns”.
According to a document leaked by Edward Snowden, the NSA collects up to 250 million online address books each year
The data collection, which the paper says takes place overseas, happens when users log in, compose a message or sync devices.
According to the leaked document, the information is collected at least 18 key access points controlled by telecommunication companies based outside the US.
Because American web communications can flow outside of the country, the contact lists of US citizens also cross the international collection points, known as Sigads (Signals Intelligence Activity Designators).
This is particularly significant because President Barack Obama has previously said that US citizens were not targeted by the surveillance, which he said struck “the right balance” between security and privacy.
Address books include names and email addresses but can also include telephone numbers, home addresses, and business and family information.
Many web-based email services generate contact lists automatically once an email has been sent. These lists allow users to write emails more quickly by providing an auto-complete suggestion.
For an intelligence analyst, access to such data would allow them to reconstruct a network of who knows whom among criminals and terrorists.
Previous Edward Snowden allegations have suggested large-scale NSA spying and attempts to weaken internet encryption.
The NSA said that such surveillance is used to combat terrorism, drug smuggling and human trafficking among other crimes.
It has always maintained it has no interest in the personal information of ordinary Americans.
NSA director general Keith Alexander has defended the bulk collection of internet communications, saying that counter-terrorism and serious crime-fighting requires “the haystack to find the needle”.
The US National Security Agency (NSA) began collecting Americans’ phone records in 2001, as part of far-reaching surveillance programmes launched by then-President George W. Bush in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
However, the scope of the practice, continued under President Barack Obama, only became apparent in June when ex-CIA contractor Edward Snowden leaked classified US surveillance files.
A US secret court had ordered phone company Verizon to hand over to the NSA the phone records of tens of millions of American customers
It emerged that a US secret court had ordered phone company Verizon to hand over to the NSA the phone records of tens of millions of American customers.
This information, known as metadata, includes the numbers of the originating and receiving phone, the call’s duration, time, date and location – for mobiles, determined by which mobile signal towers relayed the call or text.
The contents of the conversation itself, however, are not covered. The surveillance applies to calls placed within the US, and calls between the US and abroad.