August 25, 2016 Word Games: What the NSA Means by �Targeted� Surveillance Under Section 702

We all know that the NSA uses word games to hide and downplay its activities. Words like collect,” conversations,” communications,” and even surveillance” have suffered tortured definitions that create confusion rather than clarity.

There�s another one to watch: targeted” v. mass” surveillance.

Since 2008, the NSA has seized tens of billions of Internet communications. It uses the Upstream and PRISM programs�which the government claims are authorized under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act�to collect hundreds of millions of those communications each year. The scope is breathtaking, including the ongoing seizure and searching of communications flowing through key Internet backbone junctures, the searching of communications held by service providers like Google and Facebook, and, according to the government’s own investigators, the retention of significantly more than 250 million Internet communications per year.

Yet somehow, the NSA and its defenders still try to pass 702 surveillance off as targeted surveillance,” asserting that it is incorrect when EFF and many others call it mass surveillance.”

Our answer: if mass surveillance” includes the collection of the content of hundreds of millions of communications annually and the real-time search of billions more, then the PRISM and Upstream programs under Section 702 fully satisfy that definition.

This word game is important because Section 702 is set to expire in December 2017. EFF and our colleagues who banded together to stop the Section 215 telephone records surveillance are gathering our strength for this next step in reining in the NSA. At the same time, the government spin doctors are trying to avoid careful examination by convincing Congress and the American people that this is just targeted” surveillance and doesn�t impact innocent people.

Section 702 Surveillance: PRISM and Upstream

PRISM and Upstream surveillance are two types of surveillance that the government admits that it conducts under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, passed in 2008. Each kind of surveillance gives the U.S. government access to vast quantities of Internet communications. Upstream gives the NSA access to communications flowing through the fiber-optic Internet backbone cables within the United States. This happens because the NSA, with the help of telecommunications companies like AT&T, makes wholesale copies of the communications streams passing through certain fiber-optic backbone cables. Upstream is at issue in EFF�s Jewel v. NSA case.

PRISM gives the government access to communications in the possession of third-party Internet service providers, such as Google, Yahoo, or Facebook. Less is known about how PRISM actually works, something Congress should shine some light on between now and December 2017. Note that those two programs existed prior to 2008�they were just done under a shifting set of legal theories and authorities. EFF has had evidence of the Upstream program from whistleblower Mark Klein since 2006, and we have been suing to stop it ever since. Why PRISM and Upstream are Mass,” Not Targeted,” Surveillance

Despite government claims to the contrary, here�s why PRISM and Upstream are mass surveillance”:

      (1) Breadth of acquisition:  First, the scope of collection under both PRISM and Upstream surveillance is exceedingly broad. The NSA acquires hundreds of millions, if not billions, of communications under these programs annually.

Although, in the U.S. government�s view, the programs are nominally targeted,” that targeting sweeps so broadly that the communications of innocent third parties are inevitably and intentionally vacuumed up in the process. For example, a review of a large cache of intercepted conversations” provided by Edward Snowden and analyzed by the Washington Post revealed that 9 out of 10 account holders were not the intended surveillance targets but were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else.” The material reviewed by the Post consisted of 160,000 intercepted e-mail and instant message conversations, 7,900 documents (including medical records sent from one family member to another, resumes from job hunters and academic transcripts of schoolchildren”), and more than 5,000 private photos. In all, the cache revealed the daily lives of more than 10,000 account holders who were not targeted [but were] catalogued and recorded nevertheless.” The Post estimated that, at the U.S. government�s annual rate of targeting,” collection under Section 702 would encompass more than 900,000 user accounts annually. By any definition, this is mass surveillance.”

      (2) Indiscriminate full-content searching.  Second, in the course of accomplishing its so-called "targeted" Upstream surveillance, the U.S. government, in part through its agent AT&T, indiscriminately searches the contents of billions of Internet communications as they flow through the nation�s domestic, fiber-optic Internet backbone. This type of surveillance, known as "about surveillance," involves the NSA's retention of communications that are neither to nor from a target of surveillance; rather, it authorizes the NSA to obtain any communications "about" the target.
Even if the acquisition of communications containing information about” a surveillance target could, somehow, still be considered targeted,” the method for accomplishing that surveillance cannot be: about” surveillance entails a content search of all, or substantially all, international Internet communications transiting the United States. Again, by any definition, Upstream surveillance is mass surveillance.” For PRISM, while less is known, it seems the government is able to search through�or require the companies like Google and Facebook to search through�all the customer data stored by the corporations for communications to or from its targets.
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August 25, 2016
What kind of surveillance assistance can the U.S. government force companies to provide? This issue has entered the public consciousness due to the FBIs demand in February that Apple write software to help it access the San Bernardino shooter’s encrypted iPhone. Technical assistance orders can go beyond the usual government requests for user data, requiring a company to actively participate in the government’s monitoring of the targeted user(s). Companies that take seriously the task of securing of their users’ information and communications must be prepared to respond to demands to disclose, proactively begin storing, or decrypt user data; write custom code; allow the installation of government equipment on their systems; or hand over encryption keys. Advance preparation for handling technical assistance demands is especially important now since the U.S. Department of Justice has been so aggressive with companies that resist broad or novel surveillance orders. In the Apple vs. FBI case, America’s richest company faced a motion for contempt of court and derisive rhetoric from U.S. officials before it enlisted the nation’s top lawyers in its defense and ultimately fought off the case. In stark contrast, encrypted e-mail provider Lavabit unsuccessfully opposed multiple court orders to compel it to decrypt and give law enforcement the e-mails of its most famous customer, Edward Snowden, and even to hand over its private encryption keys. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal did not look kindly on Lavabit, which lost its legal battle and shuttered its operations after its legal defeat. In 2007, Yahoo! unsuccessfully battled warrantless wiretapping in secret before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The price for seeking to protect its users’ Fourth Amendment rights? DOJ argued that Yahoo! should be fined $250,000 a day for non-compliance while the litigation was pending. This talk, given by two Crypto Policy Project attorneys from Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society, will teach an enterprise audience what they need to know about technical-assistance orders by U.S. law enforcement, so that they can handle demands effectively even if they do not have Apple-level resources. We’ll go over what sorts of assistance law enforcement may demand you provide (and has demanded of companies in the past), whether they have authority to require such assistance and under what law(s), and a company’s options in response.

This is a Blackhat talk given by Jennifer Granick & Riana Pfefferkorn external link

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August 25, 2016 Twitter�s new button lets you accept private messages from your website
Twitter today continues to push forward with its increased emphasis on its messaging feature, with the rollout of a new button for websites that allows visitors to privately message an individual or company directly. The feature, now one of several website buttons available, follows the company�s recent test of a change to brands� customer support profiles� that encouraged users to direct message, not tweet, at the business�s Twitter account. In that case, a new �Message� button appeared on the profile on mobile � taking over the full space where �Tweet to� and �Message� used to live side-by-side. Early testers included big names like Apple, Uber, Beats, Activision, and others. Today�s update, meanwhile, is about making it easier to message a business from the web. The company already offered buttons for following, sharing, mentioning, and hashtags, but not DM�s. So, to some extent, this is just about Twitter rounding out its product offerings to be more However, the button�s arrival comes at a time when Facebook has been moving to make its chat app Messenger the default way that consumers interact with businesses. The social network recently redesigned its business Pages, which puts a �Message� button at the top of the page, assuming the business in question uses chat. And earlier this year, it announced a suite of tools that made it easier for businesses to connect with customers on Messenger, including things like Messenger links and scannable Messenger codes for initiating chats, business usernames based on Page names, and Messenger greetings. Twitter, meanwhile, has become known better as a place where consumers go to complain when things go wrong � often posting angry tweets, with the brand�s @username attached. By shipping more tools that let customers take that sentiment to a private chat, businesses could then continue to use Twitter as part of their marketing, consumer outreach, and support strategies, instead of shifting all their communications to Facebook. Shortly after Twitter�s announcement of the new button this afternoon, a few early testers reported they were getting error messages when they tried to use it. Apparently, the new button isn�t quite ready just yet, but should be functional in the near future.
This looks like it would be something interesting to try, just as a fun chat feature!
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August 10, 2016 If you want the best Olympics viewing experience, stream the Summer Games

Streaming is coming on strong during the 2016 Summer Olympics, and for many people - myself included - it’s a welcome relief from NBCs archaic TV coverage.

Between the network’s roundly criticized primetime tape delay, non-sports fluff and incessant commercials, I sought an alternative way to watch the Games over my TV. Online streaming is, so far, the perfect solution.

Though the NBC Sports app (iOS and Android) offers a similar live streaming experience (and lets you watch replays), I spent most of Tuesday glued to, a tab open in my browser while I went about my workday.

Armed with my cable login information, I had unlimited access to watch any sport that was Live”. I saw the US women’s gymnastics team capture gold, a bronze medal judo match, some heroic sailing and Michael Phelps 20th gold-medal swim. Not only did I see these events unfold live, but I then hopped on Twitter to join the conversation, rather than learning about the results for the first time there. The lack of commercials - and, in the case of some events, commentary - was refreshing after three straight days of TV viewing, where ads are so disruptive and NBC would rather focus on pre-packaged content it patronizingly claims female viewers prefer over the sports themselves.

With the live stream, you don’t get any of that. It’s a nearly unfiltered look at the events as they happen. There’s no time delay, no sponsored segments. The feeds I watched offered an all-around more comprehensive look at the entire event, rather than focusing almost exclusively on US athletes. It’s the competition presented as-is, nearly as good as if I were in the stands. The US rights holder through the 2032 Games, NBC is catching extra flack this year because of its tape delay for primetime. As a West Coast dweller myself, it’s particularly brutal. Not only does NBCs coverage last until midnight, but I’m seeing events hours after they’ve happened and the results have shown up on Twitter.

Someone there had the perfect quip as the women’s gymnastics qualifying round wrapped up on Sunday night: Sure glad NBC decided to tape delay tonight’s Olympics to the 11:45pm Prime Time. #nbcfail” I understand NBC is beholden to advertisers who’ve spent millions for those savory primetime spots, and it wants as many eyeballs on them as possible. I’m also aware of NBCs packaging” strategy, and Sally Jenkins of The Washington Post has a great column on how turning the Olympics into a story-driven reality show - mainly aimed at female viewers - is hugely problematic.

But Twitter complaints aren’t the only thing NBC has to worry about: ratings were way down in the Olympics’ first few days, though they’re starting to recover as the Games go on, according to Variety.

Turns out, NBC is seeing better results online. On August 6, the first full day of competition, NBCs Olympics digital platforms had their best day ever, Deadline notes. Live streaming was up 263% from the same day of the London Games, with unique users up 7%. According to Variety, 13.4 million unique viewers watched Olympics coverage online on Monday, another record day for the network’s digital platforms.

The online numbers illustrate what everyone already knows: people’s viewing habits have shifted away from traditional TV. NBC is aware of the change, and this year’s Games are the first time it’s adopted streaming as one of the primary modes of delivering Olympics content. The jump in live streaming also suggests viewers really do want live sports (shocker), and not the feel-good presentation NBC hammers home for four hours every night.

Needless to say, I enjoyed my day spent live streaming events because it was free of NBCs primetime baggage, and I plan to keep streaming throughout the remainder of the Games (so long, productivity). There are so many sports to see, all so easily accessible, that it feels like a waste not to sample them all.

That said, I can still see the appeal of watching the Olympics on TV. NBC produces some exquisite supplemental content, and their athlete access is unmatched. Many people can’t watch the Games during work, and primetime allows them to catch up on the biggest events when they get home.

My advice to NBC is to strike a balance between the immediacy of streaming and the human interest-style pieces it does do well. Then, it may have a formula that engages viewers without enraging them.

Is there a happy medium somewhere? I’m still trying to figure that out for myself, as I’m sure NBC is, too. The network has another two years before it has to worry about it again, and who knows, maybe by then NBC will have it all figured out. Until then, though, I’ll keep streaming, thanks.
OK, I can definitely say live streaming didn't work for me. A friend and I couldn't get the site to let us authenticate at all, there was a huge accessibility failure with the drop-down list of providers. It just didn't work for me, no matter what browser and/or screen reader combination I tried, and my friend even tried it on her mac. I was going to have someone authenticate it for me, then I realized that I probably couldn't shut the system down or restart it for updates, because if as much as the live extra app fails to remember that you're actually still authenticated, (and that's every time you want to watch something live, in my experience,) then I'd end up having to have someone re-authenticate every time I wanted to stream something, with is a pain in my backside if you ask me!
Not only that, but I had issues where what I wanted to stream didn't have commentary, (yeah, this is actually a big problem for me, not refreshing at all!) Oh and then there was the we're going to show an ad every 2 minutes, so we'll stream what you want to see, but we'll show you and ad every 2-3 minutes, yeah... no thankss! Then I had the problem of having it say something was streaming, and it... well... just wasn't, I think it was over or something.
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August 4, 2016 This is just a test post to see how everything works! I'm going to try publishing this as an HTML file because it's going to have links in it. here’s a link to my podcast. Life’s Everyday adventures! that's a link to my personal blog.
August 4, 2016 Senior GOP Officials Exploring Options if Trump Drops Out

Republican officials are exploring how to handle a scenario that would be unthinkable in a normal election year: What would happen if the party’s presidential nominee dropped out?

ABC News has learned that senior party officials are so frustrated � and confused � by Donald Trump’s erratic behavior that they are exploring how to replace him on the ballot if he drops out.

So how would it work?

First, Trump would have to voluntarily exit the race. Officials say there is no mechanism for forcing him to withdraw his nomination. (Trump has not given any indications that he no longer wants to be his party’s nominee.)

Then it would be up to the 168 members of the Republican National Committee to choose a successor, though the process is complicated.

One Republican legal expert has advised party officials that, for practical reasons, Trump would have to drop out by early September to give the party enough time to choose his replacement and get the next nominee’s name on the ballot in enough states to win.

Here is what the RNCs bylaws say about filling a vacancy on a presidential ticket:

Rule No. 9: Filling Vacancies in Nominations

  1. The Republican National Committee is hereby authorized and empowered to fill any and all vacancies which may occur by reason of death, declination or otherwise of the Republican candidate for president of the United States or the Republican candidate for vice president of the United States, as nominated by the national convention, or the Republican National Committee may reconvene the national convention for the purpose of filling any such vacancies.

  2. In voting under this rule, the Republican National Committee members representing any state shall be entitled to cast the same number of votes as said state was entitled to cast at the national convention.

  3. In the event that the members of the Republican National Committee from any state shall not be in agreement in the casting of votes hereunder, the votes of such state shall be divided equally, including fractional votes, among the members of the Republican National Committee present or voting by proxy.

  4. No candidate shall be chosen to fill any such vacancy except upon receiving a majority of the votes entitled to be cast in the election.
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