Nov 1 6:19 PM

6 things you need to know about NSA surveillance

Tonight, Friday, November 1st, at a special time, 10:30p EST, our new Fault Lines episode “Collect It All: America's Surviellence State” airs on Al Jazeera America. 

What does it mean to live in a surveillance state? In this episode, Fault Lines investigates the fallout over the NSA's mass data collection programs in the U.S. and abroad.

We will have more from the episode in the coming week as it repeats on Al Jazeera America on November 2, 2013, 7p ET, and premieres on Al Jazeera English on November 6, 2013.

 Join us as we livetweet this episode Friday from our main Twitter account, @ajfaultlines along with the episode’s correspondent, @JoshRushing and producers @LailaAlarian, and @NafeesaSyeed.

Catch up on the issues and tune in. 

Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images

"NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers daily," Glenn Greenwald for The Guardian, June, 5, 2013

"The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America's largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.

The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an "ongoing, daily basis" to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.

The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing...

The order directs Verizon to "continue production on an ongoing daily basis thereafter for the duration of this order"... 

The information is classed as "metadata", or transactional information, rather than communications, and so does not require individual warrants to access. The document also specifies that such "metadata" is not limited to the aforementioned items." 

"U.S., British intelligence mining data from nine U.S. Internet companies in broad secret program," Barton Gellman and Laura Poitras, June 6, 2013

"The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track foreign targets, according to a top-secret document obtained by The Washington Post.

The program, code-named PRISM, has not been made public until now. It may be the first of its kind. The NSA prides itself on stealing secrets and breaking codes, and it is accustomed to corporate partnerships that help it divert data traffic or sidestep barriers. But there has never been a Google or Facebook before, and it is unlikely that there are richer troves of valuable intelligence than the ones in Silicon Valley.

Equally unusual is the way the NSA extracts what it wants, according to the document: “Collection directly from the servers of these U.S. Service Providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple.”

London’s Guardian newspaper reported Friday that GCHQ, Britain’s equivalent of the NSA, also has been secretly gathering intelligence from the same internet companies through an operation set up by the NSA."

"Everything you need to know about PRISM: A cheat sheet for the NSA's unprecedented surveillance programs," Verge Staff, July 17, 2013

"PRISM is a tool used by the US National Security Agency (NSA) to collect private electronic data belonging to users of major internet services like Gmail, Facebook, Outlook, and others. It’s the latest evolution of the US government’s post-9/11 electronic surveillance efforts, which began under President Bush with the Patriot Act, and expanded to include the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) enacted in 2006 and 2007.

There’s a lot we still don’t know about how PRISM works, but the basic idea is that it allows the NSA to request data on specific people from major technology companies like Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, and others. The US government insists that it is only allowed to collect data when given permission by the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court."

"Inside the spy unit that NYPD says doesn't exist," Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman, August 31, 2011

"From an office on the Brooklyn waterfront in the months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, New York Police Department officials and a veteran CIA officer built an intelligence-gathering program with an ambitious goal: to map the region's ethnic communities and dispatch teams of undercover officers to keep tabs on where Muslims shopped, ate and prayed.

 The program was known as the Demographics Unit and, though the NYPD denies its existence, the squad maintained a long list of "ancestries of interest" and received daily reports on life in Muslim neighborhoods, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

 The documents offer a rare glimpse into an intelligence program shaped and steered by a CIA officer. It was an unusual partnership, one that occasionally blurred the line between domestic and foreign spying. The CIA is prohibited from gathering intelligence inside the U.S."

"NYPD targets mosques using 'terrorism enterprise investigations'," Al Jazeera America, August 28, 2013

"The New York Police Department (NYPD) has secretly labeled entire mosques as terrorist organizations, a designation that allows police to use informants to record sermons and spy on imams, often without specific evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

Since the 9/11 attacks, the NYPD has opened at least a dozen "terrorism enterprise investigations" into mosques, according to interviews and confidential police documents. A TEI, as it is known, is a police tool intended to help investigate suspected terrorist cells.

Designating an entire mosque as a terrorism enterprise means that anyone who attends prayer services there is a potential subject of an investigation and fair game for surveillance.

Many TEIs stretch for years, allowing surveillance to continue even though the NYPD has never criminally charged a mosque or Islamic organization with operating as a terrorism enterprise."

"NSA chief defends spy program in face of protest from allies," October 29, 2013 

"The head of the National Security Agency defended the intelligence agency as acting within legal boundaries Tuesday, as he sought to defuse growing controversies over the U.S. spying on its European allies and the collection of U.S. phone and email records.

General Keith Alexander, director of the NSA, offered an impassioned defense of the intelligence agency, telling the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee that it is focused on preventing attacks on Americans and its allies and operates under strict oversight.

"It is much more important for this country that we defend this nation and take the beatings than it is to give up a program that would result in this nation being attacked," Alexander said...

Some of the data referenced in documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden was collected not just by the NSA itself but was also "provided to NSA by foreign partners," he said. "This is not information that we collected on European citizens. It represents information that we and our NATO allies have collected in defense of our countries and in support of military operations.""

Also see

"Al Jazeera America: NSA Leaks"

"Timeline of Edward Snowden's revelations,"Joshua Eaton & Ben Piven for Al Jazeera America, 2013

"FAQ: What You Need to Know About the NSA’s Surveillance Program," Jonathan Stray for ProPublica, August 5, 2013



NSA Leaks, Privacy

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