Mobile version Today: 28.08.2014 Last update 09:49 | Select date RUS | ENG | SRB
 
 
home sitemap write a letter facebook twitter
Add to favourites RSS


ONLINE JOURNAL
About us
Authors
Contacts
    MH-17: Beware of the «Chameleon»  
    Weapons, Prostitutes and Drugs –These are Things Petro Poroshenko is...  
    Russia’s Rise to Global Power  
  HOME PAGE WORLD BUSINESS HISTORY & CULTURE COLUMNISTS  
 
 
 
EDITOR'S CHOICE
 
​EU-Russia ‘trade war’ to finish within 3 months – Danish biggest lender
 
Join the call for a peaceful solution to the conflict in Ukraine
all articles
 
 
 
 
NEWS
 
 
Army-militant clashes continue in Lebanon...

Russia: We don’t want the Arctic to become arena of conflict...

Abkhazia’s President points out most promising areas for investment...

NATO Not Obliged to Protect Ukraine, Not Going to Discuss Membership at Upcoming Summit...

Donetsk Milita Forces Say Take Captive Nearly 90 Ukainian Servicemen in One Day...

NATO formations on Russian borders will impact Moscow’s decision-making – envoy...

Turkish FM elected as premier, ruling AKP chairman...

Moscow-Beijing Cooperation Important for International Security...

Militias planning to send second Russian humanitarian convoy to Donetsk — official...

60 Ukrainian military cross into Russia, ask for asylum — FSB...

Islamists seize border post between Syria and Israeli-occupied Golan Heights...

Ukraine’s membership not on agenda of NATO summit in Wales...

West Neglecting Human Rights Violations by Kiev – Russian Foreign Ministry...

Russian, South African Presidents to Discuss Cooperation on Thursday...

Chief of Russian General Staff discusses regional security with Chinese colleague...

all news
 
 
 
FACEBOOK
 
 

 

 
 
 
back print
 
WORLD

US Expands Global Electronic Surveillance

Andrei AKULOV | 26.06.2013 | 00:00
 

The spy spooky stories hit the radar screens again. Edward Snowden, a former technical assistant for the CIA, who has also worked at the National Security Agency for the last four years as an employee of various outside contractors, is on the way to the relative safety abroad, probably South America. He has asked for political asylum in Ecuador, the country that has also given shelter to the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange. Snowden has decided to disclose numerous top-secret documents to the public, including a series of leaks about the NSA (as well as Britain's spy center GCHQ cooperating closely with the US agency). Both the Guardian and the Washington Post have said that U.S. security services had monitored data on phone calls from Verizon and Internet data from large companies. The US vast spy network is enjoying virtually unhindered access to any phone call or online communication as part of the «war on terror». The NSA and the FBI are directly tapping central servers at nine US internet companies.

After the attacks of September 11, 2001, President George W Bush authorized the NSA to carry out a range of electronic surveillance inside the United States, including calls between Americans and potential terrorist suspects. In 2005, telecoms firms were ordered by the Bush administration to hand over the phone records of customers. The NSA’s mission was to trawl through the records using algorithms to spot patterns that could signal possible plotting by terror suspects. The authorities must seek a warrant for the operation every three months from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which operates behind closed doors. The warrants allow a search through phone record «meta-data,» including the times of phone calls and the duration, but not the content of the conversations, something easy to ignore.

The Internet surveillance program collects data from online providers, including e-mail, chat services, videos, photos, stored data, file transfers, video conferencing and log-ins, according to classified documents obtained. Called Prism it is authorized to do so under a foreign intelligence law that has been recently renewed by Congress. It is to minimize the collection and retention of information about US citizens and permanent residents. Some Internet companies said they have refused open-ended access to their servers but complied with specific lawful requests for information. The Prism program grew out of the National Security Agency’s desire several years ago to begin addressing the need to keep up with explosive growth of social media. 

A huge proportion of global Internet traffic flows through networks controlled by the United States because eight of 15 global tier 1 telecommunications companies are American, the majors like AT&T, Century Link, XO Communications and Verizon. The social media services are mostly provided by giants headquartered in the United States, like Google, Facebook, Yahoo! and Twitter. No matter where their services are offered or their servers located, all of these companies conduct their activities according to U.S. law, including the Patriot Act. The world's Internet traffic is routed through the United States territory providing its national security agencies an enormous home-field advantage in comparison with other countries. 

According to Snowden, «The NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything to Snowden», He said «With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting. If I wanted to see your emails or your wife's phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your emails, passwords, phone records, credit cards». The exposure of the secret programs has triggered widespread debate within the US and abroad about the vast reach of the NSA, which has expanded dramatically under the Obama administration. 

International outcry

The intense international reaction threatens to complicate U.S. foreign policy, and pose legal problems for the U.S. government. The United States’ claimed leadership on internet freedom is called into question. While much of the controversy in the United States revolves around privacy rights and possible violations of the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, the scope of the PRISM story is actually world-wide. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has confirmed that it operates under a controversial section of FISA (the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978) that authorizes broad surveillance of non-U.S. persons.

On June 10 the European Commission expressed concern about the U.S. internet snooping. The next day it outlined plans to raise the PRISM matter with U.S. authorities «at the earliest possible opportunity» and will «request clarifications as to whether access to personal data within the framework of the PRISM program is limited to individual cases and based on concrete suspicions, or if it allows bulk transfer of data». The German government is also demanding explanations from the U.S. after it emerged that PRISM has been collecting more information from Germany than any other EU country. The Swiss are also raising alarms about the NSA’s hacking activities on their territory, concern that has been compounded by other revelations shared by Snowden about CIA agents resorting to blackmail ploy in Switzerland for recruiting purposes. US - based internet companies cooperating with the NSA under the PRISM program could face legal action in the European Union. The European Commission has warned U.S. tech companies that they must adhere to EU law or face the consequences. The Association for Progressive Communications has issued a statement to the Human Rights Council on behalf of civil society regarding the impact of state surveillance on human rights. Concerning the legal aspect of the matter, it says, «These revelations suggest a blatant and systematic disregard for human rights as articulated in Articles 17 and 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), as well as Articles 12 and 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights».

Human Rights Watch has noted that the recent revelations of NSA surveillance are impinging on privacy. It expressed particular concern over the total lack of concern for the rights of non-U.S. citizens. «The U.S. government’s credibility as an advocate for Internet freedom is at serious risk unless it ensures that privacy is protected along with security and acts with much greater transparency», said HRW executive director Kenneth Roth. «There is a real danger that other governments will see U.S. practice as a green light for their own secret surveillance programs. That should be chilling to anyone who goes online or uses a phone». (1)

China's official Xinhua news agency said the revelations had «put Washington in a really awkward situation». «They demonstrate that the United States, which has long been trying to play innocent as a victim of cyber-attacks, has turned out to be the biggest villain in our age», it said. China has called on the United States to address the international community’s concerns in the wake of the revelations over the National Security Agency’s surveillance activities. The Global Times, a newspaper that is part of the China’s Communist Party-run People’s Daily group, called for assertive Chinese action to confront Washington in the wake of Mr. Snowden’s revelations. «Before the U.S. government rushes to shut Snowden’s mouth, China also needs to seek an explanation from Washington,» the newspaper said in an editorial. «We are not bystanders. The issue of whether the U.S. as an Internet superpower has abused its powers touches on our vital interests directly». (2) The protests have been reported to be voiced in the UK, Canada, Pakistan, Egypt and many countries of Africa. 

Inside the country debates

For US citizens, the recent NSA scandal has touched off discussions about the legality of mass surveillance programs, whether they violate the Fourth and Fifth Amendments of the Constitution, and whether proper oversight is in place to protect human rights.

Government officials defended the activities as authorized under law, approved by Congress and necessary to counter terrorist threats. «It cannot be used to intentionally target any U.S. citizen, any other U.S. person, or anyone located within the United States». James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, said in a statement, describing the law underlying the program. «Information collected under this program is among the most important and valuable intelligence information we collect, and is used to protect our nation from a wide variety of threats». (3) The White House and Congressional leaders defended the phone program, saying it was legal and necessary to protect national security. Josh Earnest, a White House spokesman, told reporters aboard Air Force One that the kind of surveillance at issue «has been a critical tool in protecting the nation from terror threats as it allows counterterrorism personnel to discover whether known or suspected terrorists have been in contact with other persons who may be engaged in terrorist activities, particularly people located inside the United States». He added: «The president welcomes a discussion of the trade-offs between security and civil liberties». (4) On June 18, 2013 National Security Agency Director Keith Alexander testified before the House Intelligence Committee that phone and Internet surveillance programs prevented approximately 50 terrorist plots since 2001, 10 of which targeted the US. According to him, the programs are «subject to rigorous oversight» and touted the agency's «rigorous training programs» for analysts. Deputy Attorney General James Cole said the Fourth Amendment – which protects Americans from unreasonable search and seizure – does not protect the phone records of Americans because customers of phone companies do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy for records of who they call. «Every now and then, there may be a mistake», Cole admitted, but he said those instances are «reported to the FISA court immediately», as well as congressional judiciary and intelligence committees. The officials told lawmakers that the secret government collection and retention of Americans' communications are permitted by Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act and by Section 215 of the Patriot Act.

Some members of Congress have indicated support for the NSA activities, while others pushed for tougher oversight and possible changes to the law authorizing the surveillance. Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall have disputed that the NSA's collection of phone records on millions of Americans was key to preventing any terrorist attack. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., has denounced the move as an «outrageous breach of Americans' privacy» in a statement on June 6, while Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., termed it «an astounding assault on the Constitution». (5) Edward Snowden is hailed as a hero by many for exposing the government's controversial spy operations as a petition urging the Obama administration to pardon Snowden posted to the White House website reads. It has more than 110000 signatures (6). «Welcome to the era of Bush-Obama, a 16-year span of US history that will be remembered for an unprecedented erosion of civil liberties and a disregard for transparency», the National Journal’s Ron Fournier wrote. «The United States could have skipped the 2008 election. It made little difference». (7)

* * *

But the dangers lie in the various legal and ethical thresholds being crossed as a result of intelligence gathering moving forcefully into capturing the worldwide web. The U.S. government’s counterterrorism policies appear to have gone too far, especially if one adds the going-on debates on the legality of drone attacks abroad and the use of remote control air vehicles for spying on US citizens inside the country or the Home Security Department filling ammunition storages for emergency situations. The Patriot Act has no chance of being recalled soon, if ever. One row related to covert activities of US special services follows another. The Snowden’s revelations have complicated the relations with the outside world, including the closest allies. The country’s image abroad is down to low ebb. With all this in mind, it is really funny to hear US politicians pontificating about human rights with their incurable propensity to teach others instead of looking at what’s happening in their own backyard… 

Endnotes:

1. http://compliancecampaign.wordpress.com/2013/06/12/international-outcry-over-nsa-mass-surveillance-calls-u-s-credibility-into-question/
2. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/14/world/asia/chinese-media-suggest-nsa-disclosure-will-hurt-us-ties.html?_r=0
3. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/07/us/nsa-verizon-calls.html?pagewanted=all)
4. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/08/us/intelligence-chief-calls-leaks-on-us-data-collection-reprehensible.html?pagewanted=all
5. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/07/phone-records-declassified_n_3402001.html
6. https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/pardon-edward-snowden/Dp03vGYD
7. http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/130606/nsa-verizon-phone-records-surveillance
 
Tags: CIA Facebook Google NSA PRISM Twitter US Snowden
 

 
Rating: 5.0 (6)      Your rating: 1 2 3 4 5     
 
Send by e-mail

Comments
 
To add a comment, Login or Register
 
 
 
OUR COLUMNIST
    Mahdi Darius NAZEMROAYA

Looking Who Is Talking! MH17 and the US Role in Downing Passenger Airplanes

Approximately four months after Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (MH370) disappeared in March 2014, while en route from the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur to the Chinese capital of Beijing, another incident took place with a Malaysian passenger plane. This time Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17), en route from the Dutch capital of Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down on July 17, 2014 over the contested airspace of the breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic. The incident took place over Torez near the Russian-Ukrainian border while the authorities in Kiev were busy militarily assaulting the separatist armed forces of Novorossiya, that is the soldiers of the breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic and Donetsk’s sister-breakaway republic in East Ukraine, the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic...

28.08.2014
 
 
 
 
 
 
TAGS
 
 
 
Aeroflot AFISMA African Union Africom AIPAC Al Qaeda Al Shabaab Al-Jazeera ALBA Amnesty International Anonymous APEC Arab League ASEAN ATAKA Atomstroyexport Bank for International Settlements Bank of America Barclays Basel Committee BBC Bilderberg Club Black Bloc Blackwater Boco Haram BP BRICS CELAC Center for Responsive Politics CEPAL Chevron CIA CICA CIS Citigroup CNN Committee of 147 Committee of 300 Council of Europe Council on Foreign Relations Crescent Crescent Petroleum CSTO Customs Union DARPA Davos DEA Defense Intelligence Agency DIA Dragon Family E.ON Eager Lion ECOWAS EDA ELNET Enbridge Pipelines ETA EU EULEX EurAsEc Eurasian Union European Commission European Court of Human Rights European Union Exxon Mobil Facebook FAO FARC FATAH FBI FDA Federal Reserve FIFA Financial Action Task Force Financial Stability Board Fitch Franklin Templeton Freedom House FRS FSB FTA FUEN G-4 G20 G7 G8 GATA Gazprom GECF Glonass Goldman Sachs Google Greenpeace GUAM Guardian Gulf Cooperation Council Hague Tribunal HAMAS Heritage Foundation Hezbollah Hizb ut-Tahrir HSBC Human Rights Watch IAEA IEA IHRC IMF International Criminal Court Interpol IOC ISAF Islamic jihad Islamic Revolution Guards Corps ITERA Jamestown JP Morgan Jundullah KFOR KLA Ku Klux Klan Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam Lukoil Massachusetts Institute of Technology Mercosur Microsoft Missile defense Missile Defense Agency Moody's Morgan Stanley Mossad Most-Favoured Nation Mujahedin-e Khalq Muslim Brotherhood Nabucco Naftogaz NASA Nation of Islam National Security Agency NATO NDAA NDI NED Non-aligned Movement NORAD Nord Stream NORTHCOM Northern Distribution Network NSA OECD Oerlikon OIC OPCW OPEC Open Government Partnership Organization of American States OSCE OTW movement OUN / UPA PACE PACOM Pan-Europa movement Pentagon PJAK PKK PRISM PYD Red Cross Renova Republican Party Rosatom Roscosmos Rosneft Rosoboronexport Ruhrgas RusAl RWE SABSA Scientology Shanghai Cooperation Organization Shell Siemens South Stream Southern Command Standard & Poor's Statoil Strategic Nuclear Forces Stratfor SWF SWIFT Syrian National Council SYRIZA Taliban Tamarod TAPI TeleSur TNK-BP Total Transneft TTIP Twitter UN UN International Court UNASUR UNESCO USAID Valdai Club Wall Street Westinghouse Wikileaks World Bank WTO Yukos “Mass Atrocity Response Operations”
 
 
 

Republishing is welcomed with reference to Strategic Culture Foundation on-line journal www.strategic-culture.org.


 

 

 
 
© Strategic Culture Foundation

RSS

Main Politics History&Culture Archive Authors Popular
  Economics Columns About Contact

Яндекс.Метрика

 

Andrei AKULOV


all articles