European Privacy in the Age of Snowden: We Need a Debate About What Intelligence Agencies Are Doing | Democracy Now

As the movie “Citizenfour” about National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden opens in theaters in the United States, we look at the impact his leaks have had on the debate over online privacy in Europe. The Austrian newspaper Der Standard reports the NSA has accessed nearly 70 percent of telecommunications in Vienna, home to thousands of diplomats from around the world. Earlier this year, Germany ordered the removal of a top U.S. intelligence official in the country after leaks from Snowden showed the United States was monitoring the communications of millions of Germans and tapping Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone. In a victory for digital privacy, the European Court of Justice struck down a rule that required telecommunication companies to store the communications data of European Union citizens for up to two years. The ruling happened on the same day Snowden addressed the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe from Moscow. We are joined by Andreas Krisch, president of European Digital Rights. [Read more]

‘Facebook a gift to intelligence agencies’ – Laura Poitras | RT

Investigative journalist Laura Poitras says she is worried about intelligence agencies using the all-too-easily-accessible data gathered from social networks – as people share their personal information voluntarily and governments only need to ask.

Poitras, who helped NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden expose illegal activities of the organization, still believes that people should be worried about the amount of power governments have to conduct surveillance searches of what they are doing online. [Read more]

‘What the War on Terror Actually Looks Like’: Laura Poitras on Citizenfour | The Atlantic

The ultimate insider’s exposé of the National Security Agency is about to hit theaters. When Citizenfour opens Friday in New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras will have given moviegoers an unprecedented look at whistleblower Edward Snowden as he pulled back the curtain on mass surveillance in the United States and the world. This week, I spoke to Poitras about her body of work, including Citizenfour (I reviewed the film here after a press screening), The Oath, her movie on the prison at Guantanamo Bay, and My Country, My Country, her Iraq War documentary. This interview has been edited and condensed for the sake of clarity. [Read more]

The FBI Needs To Stay The Hell Away From Our Technology | Opposing Views

Technology companies create a product to be used by the public. If that product can be monitored by law enforcement agencies in order to more easily build cases against criminal activity, should private companies like Apple and Google have to comply with the government by making data more accessible?

That question has been plaguing the country since Edward Snowden revealed the data collection practices of the NSA. In response to concerns about user privacy, companies such as Apple and Google have created devices with a beefed-up form of encryption. According to F.B.I. Director James B. Comey, however, the “post-Snowden pendulum” has swung “too far” in the wrong direction. [Read more]

Automated Mass Surveillance is Unconstitutional, EFF Explains in Jewel v. NSA | EFF

Today EFF filed our latest brief in Jewel v. NSA, our longstanding case on behalf of AT&T customers aimed at ending the NSA’s dragnet surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans’ communications. The brief specifically argues that the Fourth Amendment is violated when the government taps into the Internet backbone at places like the AT&T facility on Folsom Street in San Francisco.

As it happens, the filing coincides with the theatrical release of Laura Poitras’ new documentary, Citizenfour. The Jewel complaint was filed in 2008, and there’s a scene early in the film that shows the long road that case has taken. In footage shot in 2011, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit hears argument in Jewel, and an attorney from the Department of Justice tries to convince a skeptical court that it should simply decide not to decide the case, leaving it to the other branches of government. [Read more]

Denouncing Surveillance, on Camera | New York Books

Midway through Citizenfour, Laura Poitras’s inside-story documentary about Edward Snowden’s disclosure of mass surveillance by the National Security Agency, the camera captures Snowden wrestling with an errant cowlick. In a hotel room in Hong Kong, where he has gone to meet with Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald to coordinate the first of many leaks of top-secret information, Snowden realizes that he hasn’t combed his hair, and fights futilely to keep the cowlick down. The moment provides some levity in what is otherwise a very serious film about a very serious subject—probably the most important leak in history, one that has triggered a global debate about privacy and technology in the digital age.

Two things are striking about the cowlick moment. The first is that Snowden is actually seen struggling. Citizenfour is primarily drawn from twenty hours of footage taken in that Hong Kong hotel room over an eight-day span in June 2013, and throughout, Snowden seems preternaturally calm and hyper-rational. He is committing a grave felony, one that could land him in prison for the rest of his life, will undoubtedly cause many to label him a traitor, and at a minimum, is likely to relegate him to permanent exile, cut off from his family, friends, and country. Yet he never registers even a flicker of doubt. Poitras has said that as a filmmaker, she likes to catch real people in real time making hard decisions. What could be better material than a young man breaking the law to reveal one of the deepest secrets of the most powerful country in the world? Yet for all the drama of those eight historic days in Hong Kong, Snowden comes across more as a character in a film—tough, idealistic, committed—than as a human being grappling with the enormous implications of what his is doing. [Read more]

All the NSA Will Say About Its Alarmingly Entrepreneurial Top Spy Is That She’s Resigning | The Intercept

Teresa Shea used to be the National Security Agency’s director of signals intelligence, plus the wife of an executive in the business of selling things to agencies like hers, plus the host of a home-based signals intelligence business, plus the owner, via yet another business, of a six-seat airplane and resort-town condo.

She’s going to have to drop the first arrangement. After controversy in the press about her apparent conflicts of interests, Shea is stepping down from the NSA, according to Buzzfeed’s Aram Roston. [Read more]

From Gary Webb to James Risen: The struggle for the soul of journalism | Salon

In thinking about the cases of Gary Webb and James Risen, two famous investigative reporters aggressively persecuted for their explosive revelations (in very different situations, and with different results), we are drawn into the thorny question of journalism and its so-called professional ethics. How well do the supposed codes of journalism work, and whom do they serve and protect? Is the primary role of journalism as a social institution to discover the truth as best it can and raise the level of public discourse, or to preserve its own power and prestige and privilege? I don’t claim to know the answers with any certainty. If anything, the stories of Webb and Risen suggest that those questions yield different answers in different contexts.

I’ve been a working journalist for more than 25 years, across the demise of print and the rise of the Internet, and I’ve always viewed the idea of journalism as a profession as, at best, a double-edged sword. I mean the word “profession” in the sense that law or medicine or accounting is so defined, each with its own internal codes of conduct administered by various self-governing institutions. All too often, the ideal of professionalism in journalism becomes an excuse for “the View from Nowhere” described by media critic Jay Rosen – a bogus conception of impartiality and “balance,” a refusal of critical thinking and a disinclination to challenge official sources or disrupt accepted narratives. [Read more]

New Push for NSA Reform Bill Follows Terrorist Attacks in Canada | Foreign Policy

After twin terror attacks in Canada, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) plans to renew a push to pass his broad intelligence review act that many lawmakers believe is necessary to collect intelligence to keep the country safe from terrorism.

Sensenbrenner’s USA Freedom Act passed the House earlier this year. However, it’s been stalled in the Senate by lawmakers who believe the bill strips too many of the NSA’s surveillance powers. [Read more]


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