The government hides surveillance programs just because people would freak out

The government hides surveillance programs just because people would freak out

Government agencies will go to great lengths to keep their data collection a secret, strictly to avoid the bad press they know would be coming
 
The government hides surveillance programs just because people would freak out

by Ariana Eunjung Cha – April 13, 2015


Want to see how secrecy is corrosive to democracy? Look no further than a series of explosive investigations by various news organizations this week that show the government hiding surveillance programs purely to prevent a giant public backlash.

USA Today’s Brad Heath published a blockbuster story on Monday about the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) running a massive domestic spying operation parallel to the NSA’s that was tracking billions of international calls made by Americans. They kept it secret for more than two decades. According to the USA Today report, the spying program was not only used against alleged terrorist activity, but countless supposed drug crimes, as well as “to identify US suspects in a wide range of other investigations”. And they collected information on millions of completely innocent Americans along the way.

Heath’s story is awash with incredible detail and should be read in full, but one of the most interesting parts was buried near the end: the program was shut down by the Justice Department after the Snowden leaks, not because Snowden exposed the program, but because they knew that when the program eventually would leak, the government would have no arguments to defend it.

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Iran demands nuclear disarmament from U.S. Russia, China, Britain and France

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Iran accused the five nuclear powers Wednesday of failing to take concrete action to eliminate their stockpiles and called for negotiations on a convention to achieve nuclear disarmament by a target date.

Iran’s deputy U.N. ambassador Gholam Hossein Dehghani told the U.N. Disarmament Commission that “a comprehensive, binding, irreversible, verifiable” treaty is the most effective and practical way to eliminate nuclear weapons.

He accused the nuclear powers — the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France — of promising nuclear disarmament but making no significant progress.

Dehghani’s speech came days after the announcement of a framework agreement between Iran and the five nuclear powers and Germany aimed at keeping Tehran from being able to develop a nuclear weapon. It has to be finalized by June 30.

The commission, which includes all 193 member states, is supposed to make recommendations in the field of disarmament but has failed to make substantive proposals in the past decade.

Its three-week meeting is taking place ahead of the five-year review of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), the world’s single most important pact on nuclear arms, which begins on April 27.
Read more at http://www.trunews.com/iran-demands-nuclear-disarmament-from-u-s-russia-china-britain-and-france/#CyLEhRdaqwuOJepD.99

How Big Business Is Helping Expand NSA Surveillance

Lee Fang
The Intercept [1]
April 2, 2015

Since November 11, 2011, with the introduction [2] of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, American spy agencies have been pushing laws to encourage corporations to share more customer information. They repeatedly failed, thanks in part to NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s revelations of mass government surveillance. Then came Republican victories in last year’s midterm Congressional elections and a major push by corporate interests in favor of the legislation.

Today, the bill is back, largely unchanged, and if congressional insiders and the bill’s sponsors are to believed, the legislation could end up [3] on President Obama’s desk as soon as this month. In another boon to the legislation, Obama is expected to reverse his past opposition and sign it, albeit in an amended and renamed form (CISPA is now CISA, the “Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act”). The reversal comes in the wake of high-profile hacks on JPMorgan Chase and Sony Pictures Entertainment. The bill has also benefitted greatly from lobbying by big business, which sees it as a way to cut costs and to shift some anti-hacking defenses onto the government.

For all its appeal to corporations, CISA represents a major new privacy threat to individual citizens. It lays the groundwork for corporations to feed massive amounts of communications to private consortiums and the federal government, a scale of cooperation even greater than that revealed by Snowden. The law also breaks new ground in suppressing pushback against privacy invasions; in exchange for channeling data to the government, businesses are granted broad legal immunity from privacy lawsuits — potentially leaving consumers without protection if companies break privacy promises that would otherwise keep information out of the hands of authorities.

Ostensibly, CISA is supposed to help businesses guard against cyberattacks by sharing information on threats with one another and with the government. Attempts must be made to filter personal information out of the pool of data that is shared. But the legislation [4] — at least as marked up by the Senate Intelligence Committee — provides an expansive definition of what can be construed as a cybersecurity threat, including any information for responding to or mitigating “an imminent threat of death, serious bodily harm, or serious economic harm,” or information that is potentially related to threats relating to weapons of mass destruction, threats to minors, identity theft, espionage, protection of trade secrets, and other possible offenses. Asked at a hearing in February how quickly such information could be shared with the FBI, CIA, or NSA, Deputy Undersecretary for Cybersecurity Phyllis Schneck replied, “fractions of a second.”

Full article here [1]