Leaked Documents Show Little Changes to NSA Tactics

Leaked Documents Show Little Changes to NSA Tactics

Leaked Documents Show Little Changes to NSA TacticsThe CIA has recently reviewed the NSA's activities that largely relate to the concern the public now has for its privacy. The review committee was headed up by Michael Morrell, former deputy director. Leaked documents today indicate that while, indeed, reviewed, the practices of the NSA are to remain largely unchanged.

Leaked Documents Show Little Changes to NSA Tactics: What Happened?

Simply put, the review committee didn't see much point in revising all of the NSA's tactics. The review panel has made some minor adjustments, but they are not the kinds of adjustments that the American public (or the watching world, for that matter) want to see.

The fact that the NSA's tactics aren't changing much (or at all, really) simply proves the point that these programs are seen as essential by the U.S. government. The news that the committee was not going to be making any major revision recommendations was lead to the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal through anonymous sources.

Why ‘leaked' news and not outright fact? Because the review documents haven't been handed over to Obama yet. That's also why the committee refuses to comment on the leaked news. Once the president has reviewed what the committee has found out, he will then decide whether or not to make any necessary changes.

Leaked Documents Show Little Changes to NSA Tactics: How This Will Impact Site Spying

Many website owners have been worried about information leakage and the NSA's gathering of details prior to the new review panel discussion or leaks. This is with just cause, since the NSA does, in fact, collect user data across the board from all kinds of companies like Microsoft and Apple and Google.

This does mean, too, that certain website owners are not safe when working with hosting companies. If the NSA knocks on the door of a hosting company and asks for information about a site owner, those details are to be given over without much say by the owner of the hosting company. So, you see, not making any changes to the way the NSA operates is not a good thing in the eyes of most citizens.

Leaked Documents Show Little Changes to NSA Tactics: Why It Won't Change

The NSA has stated from the start that the information gathering tactics used by this government organization are vital to the safety of the United States. It has been stated that without these measures, the government would not have a really great way of collecting data and figuring out if something is going awry within the borders of the country. While some people don't buy this argument, it is the main reason why you won't be seeing any real changes in the way that the NSA operates any time soon.

Will Obama make edits once he gets the review paperwork? Maybe a few, but the likelihood of the NSA being completely wiped out is zero to none. How does this impact you? The NSA will continue collecting data as it has always done without little stopping it now that a review has been formally filed.

What are your thoughts? Should the NSA be completely stopped?

Apple Releases NSA Request Details

Apple Releases NSA Request Details

silver apple Apple Releases NSA Request DetailsApple has released the company's first transparency report yesterday. This report details what the NSA asked from the company over the past few years – kind of. You see, the NSA won't let Apple (or any other company, for that matter) disclose specific details. What Apple can tell you is how many times the government asked for data, and Apple has split up the data in the best possible way too.

Here's more on that story.

The Data Split

Apple has divided data into two categories: account requests and device requests. Account requests include any information the NSA sought about personal accounts (including personal data). Device requests includes the number of times that the NSA asked for information about a certain device.

So, how many times did the NSA ask Apple for information about user accounts? According to the newly released PDF, around 3,000 times. How often did Apple comply with these requests? Apple can't reveal that number. The NSA has stated clearly that companies aren't allowed to divulge specifics.

Apple Releases NSA Request Details: Is Apple Collecting Your Data?

Apple has told press that the company does not collect user data. Apple went further to state that other companies do collect this data. We can only assume that Apple is taking a direct stab at Google here. But, like Apple, Google can't reveal any specific details.

Why are companies revealing this information at all? Big companies like Apple, Yahoo, Google and others want to prove to the world that they are not collecting data and aren't part of the government conspiracy. That's a really hard thing to do when the government has told these companies not to give up any real information.

The public wants to see details, but all you'll get right now are some stats that are somewhat vague.

Is More Information Coming?

The government states that letting companies like Apple give up really specific details would be a threat to public security. Let's not forget that the NSA works to keep the U.S. safe from terrorist (and other) attacks, and letting lots of information slip about the NSA's methods might be dangerous (so the story goes).

It's a really fine line between government privacy that's needed and privacy that infringes on citizen rights. It's also a line that Apple and others are having a really hard time straddling. Sure, the people want more details, but Apple can't give those up just yet.

Apple Releases NSA Request Details: More Snowden Leaks

In addition to Apple's latest PDF release, more Snowden leaks point to the fact that the NSA did tap into both Google and Yahoo data centers. This may mean that Google and Yahoo are (and did) store user privacy details, and that those details were given to the NSA. Again, though, companies can't reveal specifics.

So, here's the issue: Apple, Google, and Yahoo need to prove to the public that these companies are safe to trust and use. But, the government won't let those companies give up any really important details about NSA requests. That's a tough situation to be in. It may also be the one reason why Google is thought to be building an offshore data center. Thoughts?

The NSA: We Need What We Love to Hate

nsaI know it's hard not to hate the NSA. But, what if the NSA is needed? I realize it's tough to believe, though it is true. The United States needs a National Security Agency in order to ensure that citizens are safe – and that the country is shielded from outside infiltration.

So, the question become: how can the NSA operate and not infringe upon the rights of citizens?

That's a tough cookie to crack.

Is Security an Illusion?

If you operate a cheap hosting website, you may not have had a brush-in with the NSA, yet. But, if someone that runs a site through your hosting company is questionable or operating illegally, the government may knock on your door. What would you do? You'd probably hand over private details, just to get the government off of your back, right?

This means, in basic terms, that nobody operating a business within the United States is safe from government prying. For the most part, this fact is upsetting. But it's not so upsetting when it comes to the protection of all U.S. citizens. There are, after all, a lot of things that happen on the government level every day – and we aren't privy to most of this information.

The NSA: We Need What We Love to Hate: The Line Between Safety and Privacy

How can the NSA operate without really freaking out U.S. citizens? Is that even possible? Maybe not. Maybe it's best if we don't know what's happening. Maybe people like Edward Snowden are really a threat to our way of life. Maybe it's best to go without knowing what's going on. Maybe.

Or, maybe not. Maybe the government needs to be more open about privacy requests. Then again, it's hard to let the world know what you're doing if you want to keep that information a secret from other governments. It's confusing, isn't it? For now, though, you are under a sort of obligation to hand over any privacy information when the government comes knocking.

Your Obligation As A Cheap Hosting Provider

Owning a cloud hosting or other hosting site does put you in a precarious place. Until the law says otherwise (and it may say otherwise soon enough), here's what you have to do if the government asks for user data:

1. Comply.

That was simple enough, right? Don't want to comply? There's another option:

2. Shut Down.

I know, it's all gloom and doom. But, that's the way this works. You either bow out and state publicly that you won't give in, or you give in privately. Or, if you're like Google, you build a data center on a barge in the middle of the ocean. That could work too.

I'm curious: has the government bothered you about user data? Have you given in? What would you do if this were the case? And, more importantly – can we have a NSA and still keep citizen rights intact?

Anti-NSA Film Gains Attention in NYC

Anti-NSA Film Gains Attention in NYC

Anti-NSA Film Gains Attention in NYCIt might sound like the title of an old Beastie Boys song, but Fight For the Future is actually an organization that's completely against the NSA. It's more than that too. Fight for the Future attempts to inform Americans about NSA-type happenings, and the organization puts it all into easy to understand terms.

So easy to understand, in fact, that the latest effort put forward by Fight for the Future caused a lot of noise in New York's Washington Square Park last Tuesday. Why did hundreds of people gather on a cold NYC street last Tuesday in support of Fight of the Future? Evengeline Lilly had something to do with it.

A Video For All

The actress (known for her role in LOST) narrated a film that told the story of the NSA, what the NSA was doing, and why this government run organization is not beneficial. The film was projected onto the side of a massive Manhattan skyscraper, and plenty of people caught a glimpse of what Lilly and others had to say.

What was the reaction? Mostly positive. Almost everyone that gathered on the street last night was in support of protesting the NSA. The video project had been in the works for some time, and the gathering gained attention via Facebook and other social networks. Even though the turnout could have been larger, it's clear that the NSA is not wanted in the U.S.

Government Response

As with most protests that happen on New York's streets, the U.S. government didn't have anything to say about the film. Has the NSA been stopped? Not at all. Did the film generate buzz? Not so much – most press outlets didn't pick up the rally at all. So, why is it a big deal? Why am I reporting it here?

The NSA has closed down a lot of websites lately. Additionally, the overall security and privacy of online life is now on shaky grounds. Is your information secure if you use cloud hosting? Can someone easily tap into a cloud hosting service that you already use like Gmail or any given social network? If what we've seen from the NSA is any indication, the answer is that nothing you do online is safe from prying eyes.

Anti-NSA Film Gains Attention in NYC: More From Fight for the Future

Fight for the Future is hardly done when it comes to creating public awareness of the NSA. The group will likely invent additional public stunts in the future, and you can even sign up to be on the group's mailing list if you head to the main website.

Is the NSA important? Do you agree with this government organization? Will you become part of the larger group that's trying to expose the NSA's secrets? Let me know what you think about Lilly's film, the NSA, and the whole government spying issue below.

I also want to know if you think that one country is safer than another when it comes to your privacy.

Ten Ways You Can Be Tracked

You Can Be Tracked

NSA Ten Ways You Can Be TrackedCan I have a show of hands? Who’s feeling a bit paranoid ever since the NSA news spread? Are you feeling better now that this news has quieted down a bit? We haven’t heard much about the NSA in a few weeks, but that definitely doesn’t mean that the government has stopped monitoring what you do. But, wait, let’s go one step further: it’s not just the government that’s spying on your every move.

I thought it might be interesting to note the many ways that you might be spied on – like, right now. Just as you thought you were safe reading this message…okay, maybe not now, but you should know how and when you can be tracked. Ready for that list?

How You Can Be Tracked

  • Anything that has a GPS tracker
  • Through companies that record data like Apple (and others)
  • By police forces in some states where warrants aren’t required
  • By the NSA if you are on the bad list
  • By advertisers seeking to find out what your shopping habits are
  • Pretty much any time you use a phone
  • Whenever you send an email that you think is private
  • Through social networks like Facebook and Twitter and others
  • By Google and other companies if, and when, the NSA comes knocking
  • Through your cheap web hosting company

Is that enough to make you feel really paranoid? Well, don’t start ripping off your nails just yet.

Precautions to Take

To be on the safe side, it helps to always remember that you can be watched by any number of people at once. The best thing to do is to keep this in mind when sending a text or writing an email. Remember: you are being watched and recorded, in most cases. However, it also helps to remember that most people (like the government) are not spying on you – you’d have to be a really bad citizen for that to happen!

What’s the bottom-line here? Keep in mind that everyone from your hosting provider to your phone company can spy on you. But, most of the time, this is for advertising purposes, and not to find out who you are texting all night. I’m also going to throw this one into the mix: if your sending private files on the Internet, make sure that those files are heavily encrypted – the same goes for any cloud storage you purchase.

A Scary World

We live in a world where sites like the Silk Road exist and can be taken down in a heartbeat. That means that there’s not much you can do to make sure your information is kept safe – except to remember that you always have to be cautious!

So, now I want to know: is it right that we are tracked so much? What do you do to avoid this kind of tracking?