Responding to Germans’ unease over U.S. surveillance of the Internet, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet agreed initial plans on Wednesday to boost European technology companies and make them a more favourable alternative to U.S. peers.Merkel’s chief of staff said on Monday that fears of mass U.S. spying on Germans were unfounded, and Washington had assured Berlin it had upheld German law. But with an election looming in less than six weeks, the government has come under pressure to do more to protect citizens’ private data.
Even while rapidly expanding its electronic surveillance around the world, the National Security Agency has lobbied inside the government to deploy the equivalent of a “Star Wars” defense for America’s computer networks, designed to intercept cyberattacks before they could cripple power plants, banks or financial markets.But administration officials say the plan, championed by Gen. Keith B. Alexander, the director of the National Security Agency and head of the Pentagon’s Cyber Command, has virtually no chance of moving forward given the backlash against the N.S.A. over the recent disclosures about its surveillance programs.
President Obama’s message about the government’s massive electronic surveillance programs came through loud and clear: Get over it.The president used more soothing words in his pre-vacation news conference Friday, but that was the gist. With perhaps the application of a fig leaf here and a sheen of legalistic mumbo jumbo there, the snooping will continue.Unless, of course, we demand that it end.The modest reforms Obama proposed do not begin to address the fundamental question of whether we want the National Security Agency to log all of our phone calls and read at least some of our e-mails, relying on secret judicial orders from a secret court for permission. The president indicated he is willing to discuss how all this is done — but not whether.
It turns out that the NSA’s domestic and world-wide surveillance apparatus is even more extensive than we thought. Bluntly: The government has commandeered the Internet. Most of the largest Internet companies provide information to the NSA, betraying their users. Some, as we’ve learned, fight and lose. Others cooperate, either out of patriotism or because they believe it’s easier that way.I have one message to the executives of those companies: fight.Do you remember those old spy movies, when the higher ups in government decide that the mission is more important than the spy’s life? It’s going to be the same way with you. You might think that your friendly relationship with the government means that they’re going to protect you, but they won’t. The NSA doesn’t care about you or your customers, and will burn you the moment it’s convenient to do so.
Just hours after President Obama defended the National Security Agency’s activities, the foreign surveillance agency released a document in which it claims to review only a small faction of Internet traffic on a daily basis.In a seven-page paper released late Friday titled “The National Security Agency: Missions, Authorities, Oversight and Partnerships”(PDF), the agency asserts that the amount of data it collects from the global communications apparatus on a daily basis is comparable in size to a dime placed on a basketball court.
http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-57598043-38/nsa-claims-it-touches-only-1.6-percent-of-internet-traffic/Also see:NSA: 1.6 Percent Of Internet Information ‘Touched’ By Us
On the day President Barack Obama proposed reforms to the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the National Security Agency shared a paper claiming legal authority for its spying and revealing that it “touches” 1.6 percent of Internet information.The memo says that after the 2001 terror attacks, “Several programs were developed to address the U.S. Government’s need to connect the dots of information available to the intelligence community and to strengthen the coordination between foreign intelligence and domestic law enforcement agencies,” including the bulk collection of telephone and email records.
BT and Vodafone are among seven large telecoms firms which could be pulled into a legal challenge under human rights law for cooperating with GCHQ’s large-scale internet surveillance programs.Lawyers for the group Privacy International, whose mission is to defend the right to privacy, have written to the chief executives of the telecoms companies identified last week by the German paper Süddeutsche and the Guardian as collaborating in GCHQ’s Tempora program.
The National Security Agency is searching the contents of vast amounts of Americans’ e-mail and text communications into and out of the country, hunting for people who mention information about foreigners under surveillance, according to intelligence officials.The N.S.A. is not just intercepting the communications of Americans who are in direct contact with foreigners targeted overseas, a practice that government officials have openly acknowledged. It is also casting a far wider net for people who cite information linked to those foreigners, like a little used e-mail address, according to a senior intelligence official.
U.S. cloud providers have already lost business over the NSA leaks, but now the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) has a report putting a dollar amount on the short-term costs: $21.5 to $35 billion over the next three years.ITIF based these estimates in part on the Cloud Security Alliance survey showing that 10 percent of officials at non-U.S. companies cancelled contracts with U.S. providers and 56 percent of non-U.S. respondents are hesitant to work with U.S. cloud based operators after the leaks.
In an interview with a major newspaper in her home country, Germany’s justice minister said on Monday that she favored even stronger European Union rules that would enhance data protection. And Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger took her stance even further: “United States companies that don’t abide by these standards [they] should be denied doing business in the European market.”
German companies have long suspected China and Russia of trying to steal their secrets. But the NSA scandal has turned their attention west, forcing them to worry about prying American eyes and to rapidly bolster security measures.Building No. 14 of SAP’s service center in St. Leon-Rot seems as secure as Fort Knox. But, in the end, it isn’t the exterior walls of meter-thick reinforced concrete that give off this impression. Nor is it the security cameras or the high-tech steel gate. In fact, the latter wasn’t even working a few weeks ago, as can be seen from the handwritten note taped to it, saying: “Gate broken. Please open manually.”What really makes this building in southwestern Germany secure is a state-of-the-art fingerprint verification system. The computer center is filled with servers containing data on this German software giant and thousands of other companies, together making up a giant library of secret company information spanning much of Europe. To get into it, visitors must pass through five security control points, each equipped with its own fingerprint scanner. Only authorized fingers are given access, and only when they are still attached to living individuals. No one gets into the building with severed fingers.