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Post time 2019-5-28 17:05:29 |Display all floors

U.S., British intelligence mining data from nine U.S. Internet companies in broad secret program
Washington Post, US

June 7, 2013

(ref: ... ccb04497_story.html )

The US NSA (National Security Agency) PRISM slides:

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   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.

According to documents obtained by The Guardian, PRISM would appear to allow GCHQ to circumvent the formal legal process required in Britain to seek personal material such as emails, photos and videos from an internet company based outside of the country.


PRISM was launched from the ashes of President George W. Bush’s secret program of warrantless domestic surveillance in 2007, after news media disclosures, lawsuits and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court forced the president to look for new authority.

Congress obliged with the Protect America Act in 2007 and the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which immunized private companies that cooperated voluntarily with U.S. intelligence collection. PRISM recruited its first partner, Microsoft, and began six years of rapidly growing data collection beneath the surface of a roiling national debate on surveillance and privacy. Late last year, when critics in Congress sought changes in the FISA Amendments Act, the only lawmakers who knew about PRISM were bound by oaths of office to hold their tongues.

The court-approved program is focused on foreign communications traffic, which often flows through U.S. servers even when sent from one overseas location to another. Between 2004 and 2007, Bush administration lawyers persuaded federal FISA judges to issue surveillance orders in a fundamentally new form. Until then the government had to show probable cause that a particular “target” and “facility” were both connected to terrorism or espionage.

In four new orders, which remain classified, the court defined massive data sets as “facilities” and agreed to certify periodically that the government had reasonable procedures in place to minimize collection of “U.S. persons” data without a warrant.
In a statement issue late Thursday, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper said “information collected under this program is among the most important and valuable foreign intelligence information we collect, and is used to protect our nation from a wide variety of threats. The unauthorized disclosure of information about this important and entirely legal program is reprehensible and risks important protections for the security of Americans.”

Clapper added that there were numerous inaccuracies in reports about PRISM by The Post and the Guardian newspaper, but he did not specify any.

Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said: “I would just push back on the idea that the court has signed off on it, so why worry? This is a court that meets in secret, allows only the government to appear before it, and publishes almost none of its opinions. It has never been an effective check on government.”

Several companies contacted by The Post said they had no knowledge of the program, did not allow direct government access to their servers and asserted that they responded only to targeted requests for information.

“We do not provide any government organization with direct access to Facebook servers,” said Joe Sullivan, chief security officer for Facebook. “When Facebook is asked for data or information about specific individuals, we carefully scrutinize any such request for compliance with all applicable laws, and provide information only to the extent required by law.”

“We have never heard of PRISM,” said Steve Dowling, a spokesman for Apple. “We do not provide any government agency with direct access to our servers, and any government agency requesting customer data must get a court order.”

It is possible that the conflict between the PRISM slides and the company spokesmen is the result of imprecision on the part of the NSA author. In another classified report obtained by The Post, the arrangement is described as allowing “collection managers [to send] content tasking instructions directly to equipment installed at company-controlled locations,” rather than directly to company servers.

Government officials and the document itself made clear that the NSA regarded the identities of its private partners as PRISM’s most sensitive secret, fearing that the companies would withdraw from the program if exposed. “98 percent of PRISM production is based on Yahoo, Google and Microsoft; we need to make sure we don’t harm these sources,” the briefing’s author wrote in his speaker’s notes.

An internal presentation of 41 briefing slides on PRISM, dated April 2013 and intended for senior analysts in the NSA’s Signals Intelligence Directorate, described the new tool as the most prolific contributor to the President’s Daily Brief, which cited PRISM data in 1,477 items last year. According to the slides and other supporting materials obtained by The Post, “NSA reporting increasingly relies on PRISM” as its leading source of raw material, accounting for nearly 1 in 7 intelligence reports.
That is a remarkable figure in an agency that measures annual intake in the trillions of communications. It is all the more striking because the NSA, whose lawful mission is foreign intelligence, is reaching deep inside the machinery of American companies that host hundreds of millions of American-held accounts on American soil.

The technology companies, whose cooperation is essential to PRISM operations, include most of the dominant global players of Silicon Valley, according to the document. They are listed on a roster that bears their logos in order of entry into the program: “Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple.” PalTalk, although much smaller, has hosted traffic of substantial intelligence interest during the Arab Spring and in the ongoing Syrian civil war.

Dropbox, the cloud storage and synchronization service, is described as “coming soon.”

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Post time 2019-5-28 17:05:52 |Display all floors

Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.), who had classified knowledge of the program as members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, were unable to speak of it when they warned in a Dec. 27, 2012, floor debate that the FISA Amendments Act had what both of them called a “back-door search loophole” for the content of innocent Americans who were swept up in a search for someone else.

“As it is written, there is nothing to prohibit the intelligence community from searching through a pile of communications, which may have been incidentally or accidentally been collected without a warrant, to deliberately search for the phone calls or e-mails of specific Americans,” Udall said.

Wyden repeatedly asked the NSA to estimate the number of Americans whose communications had been incidentally collected, and the agency’s director, Lt. Gen. Keith B. Alexander, insisted there was no way to find out. Eventually Inspector General I. Charles McCullough III wrote Wyden a letter stating that it would violate the privacy of Americans in NSA data banks to try to estimate their number.

Roots in the ’70s

PRISM is an heir, in one sense, to a history of intelligence alliances with as many as 100 trusted U.S. companies since the 1970s. The NSA calls these Special Source Operations, and PRISM falls under that rubric.

The Silicon Valley operation works alongside a parallel program, code-named BLARNEY, that gathers up “metadata” — technical information about communications traffic and network devices — as it streams past choke points along the backbone of the Internet. BLARNEY’s top-secret program summary, set down in the slides alongside a cartoon insignia of a shamrock and a leprechaun hat, describes it as “an ongoing collection program that leverages IC [intelligence community] and commercial partnerships to gain access and exploit foreign intelligence obtained from global networks.”

But the PRISM program appears to more nearly resemble the most controversial of the warrantless surveillance orders issued by President George W. Bush after the al-Qaeda attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Its history, in which President Obama presided over exponential growth in a program that candidate Obama criticized, shows how fundamentally surveillance law and practice have shifted away from individual suspicion in favor of systematic, mass collection techniques.

The Obama administration points to ongoing safeguards in the form of “extensive procedures, specifically approved by the court, to ensure that only non-U.S. persons outside the U.S. are targeted, and that minimize the acquisition, retention and dissemination of incidentally acquired information about U.S. persons.”

And it is true that the PRISM program is not a dragnet, exactly. From inside a company’s data stream the NSA is capable of pulling out anything it likes, but under current rules the agency does not try to collect it all.

Analysts who use the system from a Web portal at Fort Meade, Md., key in “selectors,” or search terms, that are designed to produce at least 51 percent confidence in a target’s “foreignness.” That is not a very stringent test. Training materials obtained by The Post instruct new analysts to make quarterly reports of any accidental collection of U.S. content, but add that “it’s nothing to worry about.”

Even when the system works just as advertised, with no American singled out for targeting, the NSA routinely collects a great deal of American content. That is described as “incidental,” and it is inherent in contact chaining, one of the basic tools of the trade. To collect on a suspected spy or foreign terrorist means, at minimum, that everyone in the suspect’s inbox or outbox is swept in. Intelligence analysts are typically taught to chain through contacts two “hops” out from their target, which increases “incidental collection” exponentially. The same math explains the aphorism, from the John Guare play, that no one is more than “six degrees of separation” from any other person.

A ‘directive’

In exchange for immunity from lawsuits, companies such as Yahoo and AOL are obliged to accept a “directive” from the attorney general and the director of national intelligence to open their servers to the FBI’s Data Intercept Technology Unit, which handles liaison to U.S. companies from the NSA. In 2008, Congress gave the Justice Department authority for a secret order from the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Court to compel a reluctant company “to comply.”

In practice, there is room for a company to maneuver, delay or resist. When a clandestine intelligence program meets a highly regulated industry, said a lawyer with experience in bridging the gaps, neither side wants to risk a public fight. The engineering problems are so immense, in systems of such complexity and frequent change, that the FBI and NSA would be hard pressed to build in back doors without active help from each company.

Apple demonstrated that resistance is possible when it held out for more than five years, for reasons unknown, after Microsoft became PRISM’s first corporate partner in May 2007. Twitter, which has cultivated a reputation for aggressive defense of its users’ privacy, is still conspicuous by its absence from the list of “private sector partners.”

Google, like the other companies, denied that it permitted direct government access to its servers.

“Google cares deeply about the security of our users’ data,” a company spokesman said. “We disclose user data to government in accordance with the law, and we review all such requests carefully. From time to time, people allege that we have created a government ‘back door’ into our systems, but Google does not have a ‘back door’ for the government to access private user data.”

Microsoft also provided a statement: “We provide customer data only when we receive a legally binding order or subpoena to do so, and never on a voluntary basis. In addition we only ever comply with orders for requests about specific accounts or identifiers. If the government has a broader voluntary national security program to gather customer data we don’t participate in it.”

Yahoo also issued a denial.

“Yahoo! takes users’ privacy very seriously,” the company said in a statement. “We do not provide the government with direct access to our servers, systems, or network.”

Like market researchers, but with far more privileged access, collection managers in the NSA’s Special Source Operations group, which oversees the PRISM program, are drawn to the wealth of information about their subjects in online accounts. For much the same reason, civil libertarians and some ordinary users may be troubled by the menu available to analysts who hold the required clearances to “task” the PRISM system.

There has been “continued exponential growth in tasking to Facebook and Skype,” according to the PRISM slides. With a few clicks and an affirmation that the subject is believed to be engaged in terrorism, espionage or nuclear proliferation, an analyst obtains full access to Facebook’s “extensive search and surveillance capabilities against the variety of online social networking services.”

According to a separate “User’s Guide for PRISM Skype Collection,” that service can be monitored for audio when one end of the call is a conventional telephone and for any combination of “audio, video, chat, and file transfers” when Skype users connect by computer alone. Google’s offerings include Gmail, voice and video chat, Google Drive files, photo libraries, and live surveillance of search terms.

Firsthand experience with these systems, and horror at their capabilities, is what drove a career intelligence officer to provide PowerPoint slides about PRISM and supporting materials to The Washington Post in order to expose what he believes to be a gross intrusion on privacy. “They quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type,” the officer said.

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Post time 2019-5-28 17:12:34 |Display all floors

    Secret program gives NSA, FBI backdoor access to Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft data                      June 6 2013


Five-year-old program provides government with direct access to email, messages, browser history, more.

(ref: ... rosoft-others-prism)

The US National Security Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation have been harvesting data such as audio, video, photographs, emails, and documents from the internal servers of nine major technology companies, according to a leaked 41-slide security presentation obtained by The Washington Postand [url=]The Guardian[/url].

According to The Washington Post, the program's slides were provided by a "career intelligence officer" that had "firsthand experience with these systems, and horror at their capabilities," and wished to expose the program's "gross intrusion on privacy."

The program, codenamed PRISM, is considered highly classified and has never been made public before. The list of companies involved are the who's who of Silicon Valley: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, and Apple. Dropbox, though not yet an official part of the program, is said to be joining it soon. These companies have all willingly participated in the program, says the Post.

According to the leaked presentation, the program has been in action since 2007, and is considered the biggest contributor to the daily briefings given to the president, providing data in 1,477 articles last year alone.

Allegedly, nearly one in seven intelligence reports from the NSA contains data from the PRISM program.

The NSA has the ability to pull any sort of data it likes from these companies, but it claims that it does not try to collect it all.

The PRISM program goes above and beyond the existing laws that state companies must comply with government requests for data, as it gives the NSA direct access to each company's servers — essentially letting the NSA do as it pleases.

The program was initiated to overcome what the NSA saw as constraints within the existing FISA warrant program that did not allow the agency to make use of the "home-field advantage" provided by having most of the internet's biggest companies on US soil.

The who's who of Silicon Valley are involved in the NSA's PRISM program
Microsoft was the first company to bow to the government's wishes and join the PRISM program in 2007, while Apple held out for five years before agreeing. Though Google and Facebook are a part of PRISM, Twitter has not yet joined.

Apparently, the only members of Congress that knew about PRISM's existence were bound by oath not to speak of it publicly.

In a statement provided to both The Washington Post and The Guardian, Google denied that the government had any sort of backdoor access to its systems:

The training documents for the program reveal that the NSA collects a large amount of data on the American public through the PRISM program. For example, if a specific target is investigated using PRISM, that target's complete inbox and outbox are swept, in addition to anyone who is connected to it. This high level of access was initially given to the NSA by President Bush and was later renewed in 2012 by President Obama.

This report follows the news from earlier this week of the NSA's involvement in collecting call data and records from Verizon in another massive surveillance partnership.

Update: The director of National Intelligence issued a statement today, aiming to clear up "inaccuracies" in reporting on the PRISM program. The DNI argues that only people outside of the United States have been targeted, and that the program “does not allow” the targeting of citizens or others within US borders.

"This program was recently reauthorized by Congress after extensive hearings and debate,” said the official, adding that, “information collected under this program is among the most important and valuable intelligence information we collect, and is used to protect our nation from a wide variety of threats.”

The word “target” takes on special significance given what has been reported by former NSA codebreaker William Binney and others. The Stellar Wind program, for which Binney claims to have contributed much of the base code, is said to compile massive amounts of internet traffic, which can then be queried at a later time.

According to USSID 18, a top-secret NSA manual of definitions and legal directives, an “intercept” only occurs when the database is queried — when someone actually reads the text on a screen.

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Post time 2019-5-29 12:43:08 |Display all floors
China is not the source of our economic problems

Jeffrey Sachs

May 27 2019

(ref: ... my-sachs/index.html )

China is not an enemy. It is a nation trying to raise its living standards through education, international trade, infrastructure investment, and improved technologies. In short, it is doing what any country should do when confronted with the historical reality of being poor and far behind more powerful countries. Yet the Trump administration is now aiming to stop China's development, which could prove to be disastrous for both the United States and the entire world.

China is being made a scapegoat for rising inequality in the United States. While US trade relations with China have been mutually beneficial over the years, some US workers have been left behind, notably Midwestern factory workers facing competition due to rising productivity and comparatively low (though rising) labor costs in China. Instead of blaming China for this normal phenomenon of market competition, we should be taxing the soaring corporate profits of our own multinational corporations and using the revenues to help working-class households, rebuild crumbling infrastructure, promote new job skills and invest in cutting-edge science and technology.

We should understand that China is merely trying to make up for lost time after a very long period of geopolitical setbacks and related economic failures. Here is important historical background that is useful to understand China's economic development in the past 40 years.

In 1839, Britain attacked China because it refused to allow British traders to continue providing Chinese people with addictive opium. Britain prevailed, and the humiliation of China's defeat in the First Opium War, ending in 1842, contributed in part to a mass uprising against the Qing Dynasty called the Taiping Rebellion that ended up causing more than 20 million deaths. A Second Opium War against Britain and France ultimately led to the continued erosion of China's power and internal stability.
Toward the end of the 19th century, China lost a war to the newly industrializing Japan, and was subjected to yet more one-sided demands by Europe and the United States for trade. These humiliations led to another rebellion, followed by yet another defeat,at the hands of foreign powers.

China's Qing Dynasty fell in 1911, after which China quickly succumbed to warlords, internal strife and Japan's invasion of China beginning in 1931. The end of World War II was followed by civil war, the creation of the People's Republic of China in 1949 and then the upheavals of Maoism, including millions of deaths from famine in the Great Leap Forward, which ended in the early 1960s, and the mass destabilization of the Cultural Revolutionand its aftermath until 1977.

China's rapid development on a market basis therefore started only in 1978, when Deng Xiaoping came to power and launched sweeping economic reforms. While China has seen incredible growth in the past four decades, the legacy of more than a century of poverty, instability, invasion and foreign threats still looms large. Chinese leaders would like to get things right this time, and that means they are unwilling to bow to the United States or other Western powers again.

China is now the second-largest economy in the world, when GDP is measured at market prices. Yet it is a country still in the process of catching up from poverty. In 1980, according toIMF data, China's GDP per capita was a mere 2.5% of the United States, and by 2018 had reached only 15.3% of the US level. When GDP is measured in purchasing-power-parity terms, by using a common set of "international prices" to value GDP in all countries, China's income per capita in 2018 was a bit higher at 28.9% of the United States.

China has roughly followed the same development strategy as Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore before it. From an economic standpoint, it is not doing anything particularly unusual for a country that is playing catch up.The constant US refrain that China "steals" technologies is highly simplistic.

Countries that are lagging behind upgrade their technologies in many ways, through study, imitation, purchases, mergers, foreign investments, extensive use of off-patent knowledge and, yes, copying. And with any fast-changing technologies, there are always running battles over intellectual property. That's true even among US companies today -- this kind of competition is simply a part of the global economic system. Technology leaders know they shouldn't count on keeping their lead through protection, but through continued innovation.

The United States relentlessly adopted British technologies in the early 19th century. And when any country wants to close a technology gap, it recruits know-how from abroad. The US ballistic missile program, as it is well known, was built with the help of former Nazi rocket scientists recruited to the United States after World War II.

If China were a less populous Asian country, say like South Korea, with a little more than 50 million people, it would simply be hailed by the United States as a great development success story -- which it is. But because it is so big, China refutes America's pretensions to run the world. The United States, after all, is a mere 4.2% of the world's population, less than a fourth of China's. The truth is that neither country is in a position to dominate the world today, as technologies and know-how are spreading more quickly across the globe than ever before.

Trade with China provides the United States with low-cost consumer goods and increasingly high-quality products. It also causes job losses in sectors such as manufacturing that compete directly with China. That is how trade works. To accuse China of unfairness in this is wrong -- plenty of American companies have reaped the benefits of manufacturing in China or exporting goods there. And US consumers enjoy higher living standards as a result of China's low-cost goods. The US and China should continue to negotiate and develop improved rules for bilateral and multilateral trade instead of stoking a trade war with one-sided threats and over-the-top accusations.

The most basic lesson of trade theory, practice and policy is not to stop trade -- which would lead to falling living standards, economic crisis and conflict. Instead, we should share the benefits of economic growth so that the winners who benefit compensate the losers.

Yet under American capitalism, which has long strayed from the cooperative spirit of the New Deal era, today's winners flat-out reject sharing their winnings. As a result of this lack of sharing, American politics are fraught with conflicts over trade. Greed comprehensively dominates Washington policies.

The real battle is not with China but with America's own giant companies, many of which are raking in fortunes while failing to pay their own workers decent wages. America's business leaders and the mega-rich push for tax cuts, more monopoly power and offshoring -- anything to make a bigger profit -- while rejecting any policies to make American society fairer.

Trump is lashing out against China, ostensibly believing that it will once again bow to a Western power. It is willfully trying to crush successful companies like Huawei by changing the rules of international trade abruptly and unilaterally. China has been playing by Western rules for the past 40 years, gradually catching up the way that America's Asian allies did in the past. Now the United States is trying to pull the rug out from under China by launching a new Cold War.

Unless some greater wisdom prevails, we could spin toward conflict with China, first economically, then geopolitically and militarily, with utter disaster for all. There will be no winners in such a conflict. Yet such is the profound shallowness and corruption of US politics today that we are on such a path.

A trade war with China won't solve our economic problems. Instead we need homegrown solutions: affordable health care, better schools, modernized infrastructure, higher minimum wages and a crackdown on corporate greed. In the process, we would also learn that we have far more to gain through cooperation with China rather than reckless and unfair provocation.

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Post time 2019-5-29 15:08:10 |Display all floors
Where's mark?

Like huaqiao, mark is visible on the outside (in BBS under TTCD) but not here.


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Post time 2019-5-30 16:08:43 |Display all floors
So Trish Regan chickened out at the last moment and there was no live-streamed debate on CGTN.

There was only kitchen talk on the issue of stolen testosterone from American men by the Chinese.

What did you expect?  do you really believe the emotional liar didn't know she was lying?  The New England prep school Trish went to obviously taught her how to tell a lie without blushing.

$600 billion IP theft?  She simply used the sensational lie as a springboard to her new job as a Prime Time anchor.

If you haven't figured out the truth by now, just remember that these Americans are totally shameless.

If Boris Johnson is required to face criminal charges in a British court on his lying about Brexit, Trish Regan should be brought to a Chinese court to face charges for lying about Chinese IP thefts.

After Trish is sentenced to ten years of hard labor, go ahead and summon Trump, Pompeo, Bolton and Navarro -- the whole gang of lying thugs -- to face similar charges of intentional deceit in a Chinese court.

It is a great fault of some Chinese people that more often than not they make the mistake of respecting these American moral midgets merely on account of their official positions.

Instead, they should conjure up the latter's true images -- potential convicts dressed in prison garb sinking into dugout holes in a Xinjiang toilet.

Oh you're telling me you haven't been to one?

In that case just take my word for it -- it's not exactly a pretty sight.

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Post time 2019-5-30 16:12:38 |Display all floors
Oh I see you now, mark.

Still magic!

I'm in the midst of analyzing Trish Regan.

It'll take me a few minutes to digest your dimsum.

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