Snowden warns Tempora surveillance 'snarfs' everything, even worse than NSA's PRISM

If you are wondering about a way to avoid your communications from being hoovered up by NSA domestic surveillance, you must also take the international “Five Eye Partners” into consideration: The United States, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada intelligence services collaborate to such an extent

Nowhere to hide from Five Eye surveillance Partners, NSA PRISM, UK Tempora

that even if you have nothing to hide—simply objecting to the privacy invasion as a matter of principle—there sadly seems to be nowhere to hide.

When the German magazine Spiegel Online interviewed Edward Snowden about global spying and big surveillance programs that are currently active, Snowden warned:

In some cases, the so-called Five Eye Partners go beyond what NSA itself does. For instance, the UK's General Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has a system called TEMPORA. TEMPORA is the signals intelligence community's first "full-take" Internet buffer that doesn't care about content type and pays only marginal attention to the Human Rights Act. It snarfs everything, in a rolling buffer to allow retroactive investigation without missing a single bit. Right now the buffer can hold three days of traffic, but that's being improved. Three days may not sound like much, but remember that that's not metadata. "Full-take" means it doesn't miss anything, and ingests the entirety of each circuit's capacity. If you send a single ICMP packet and it routes through the UK, we get it. If you download something and the CDN (Content Delivery Network) happens to serve from the UK, we get it. If your sick daughter's medical records get processed at a London call center … well, you get the idea. 

Snowden didn’t have a failsafe answer about how to circumvent that, but he advised, “You should never route through or peer with the UK under any circumstances.” Of course, the US intelligence apparatus is also in “bed” with “Germany the same as with most other Western countries.” (The German BND is like the American NSA.) Right now, the data collected about you may not be stored for the long term -- unless you are a target of the NSA and then your “communications get stored ‘forever and ever,’ regardless of policy.” Oh, and of course if you use encryption, then you painted a big red bull’s-eye on yourself as that is automatically suspicious; the NSA will store it forever…just in case you're evil. But once the NSA’s facility in Utah is completed, it will hold onto everything for all eternity.

“The NSA wants to be at the point where at least all of the metadata is permanently stored,” Snowden stated. “In most cases, content isn't as valuable as metadata because you can either re-fetch content based on the metadata or, if not, simply task all future communications of interest for permanent collection since the metadata tells you what out of their data stream you actually want.”

Snowden confirms NSA and Israel wrote Stuxnet

Plugging leaks is naturally something the government does want; the war on leakers includes charging whistleblowers and leakers with the Espionage Act. Although we’ve known the U.S. and Israel created Stuxnet, Edward Snowden confirmed, “NSA and Israel co-wrote it.” The FBI immediately launched a manhunt to unmask the leaker and now President Obama’s ‘favorite general,’ former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is in the crosshairs of a DOJ investigation.

Retired Marine Gen. James 'Hoss' Cartwright, a man who was once the second ranking officer in the U.S. military, has been described as the “father of Stuxnet;” but now he is the favorite “target” suspected of leaking Stuxnet. Unnamed legal sources told NBC that Cartwright is under investigation “for allegedly leaking information about a massive attack using a computer virus named Stuxnet on Iran’s nuclear facilities.” Prosecutors supposedly identified Cartwright “without resorting to a secret subpoena of the phone records of New York Times reporters.”

Naked Security reminded future whistleblowers to “pay heed” to the FBI’s data-crunching tools and surveillance techniques because your digital communications and phone records can and will be used against you. In fact, Snowden warned that once NSA targets a person, you are forever “owned.” He told Spiegel Online:

An analyst will get a daily (or scheduled based on exfiltration summary) report on what changed on the system, PCAPS 9 of leftover data that wasn't understood by the automated dissectors, and so forth. It's up to the analyst to do whatever they want at that point -- the target's machine doesn't belong to them anymore, it belongs to the US government. 

Regarding the “warrantless wiretapping of millions and millions of communications,” Snowden believes nothing will be done about it in a US court. “Who ‘can’ be brought up on charges is immaterial when the rule of law is not respected. Laws are meant for you, not for them.”

EPIC privacy group goes to Supreme Court over NSA domestic spying

Just the same, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), a privacy rights group, is taking an emergency petition straight to the Supreme Court. Marc Rotenberg, the executive director of EPIC, told The New York Times that the “lawsuit would be the first to directly challenge the legal authority of the FISA court to approve the phone records’ collection under the Patriot Act.”

NSA’s domestic surveillance program collects, among other things, millions, perhaps billions, of Americans’ phone records. The FISA secret surveillance court said that is OK, but EPIC attorney Alan Butler said, “the judge 'lacked the authority to require production of all domestic call detail records.' He noted that the Patriot Act provision cited by the FISA court required that the business records produced be 'relevant' to an authorized national security investigation. “It is simply implausible that all call detail records are relevant.”

Indeed and amen.

To express your thoughts on Computerworld content, visit Computerworld's Facebook page, LinkedIn page and Twitter stream.
Windows 10 annoyances and solutions
Shop Tech Products at Amazon
Notice to our Readers
We're now using social media to take your comments and feedback. Learn more about this here.