Study Finds NSA Surveillance Programs Ineffective

This morning, the New America Foundation released a study entitled “Do NSA’s Bulk Surveillance Programs Stop Terrorists?”,  which concludes that the NSA surveillance programs are not as effective as the government purports them to be. After analyzing 225 individuals recruited by al-Qaeda or similar groups, the New America researchers found that the government’s claims regarding the NSA surveillance programs’ effectiveness are “overblown and even misleading.” Continue reading

FISC Reopens NSA Phone Surveillance Program

Despite the public’s hopes that the NSA’s telephone surveillance program would be deemed unconstitutional, the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) recently gave the Agency the go-ahead to continue collecting and analyzing millions of Americans’ private phone records. However, the extension may only be temporary as the FISC only granted the NSA three more months of surveillance. Continue reading

Could Online Fantasy Games be Used as a Networking Tool for Terrorists?

In today’s New York Times, Mark Mazetti and Justin Elliot discuss American and British spies’ use of the popular online fantasy games World of Warcraft and Second Life as tools to perform surveillance and undermine the networking efforts of terrorists and other criminals. Continue reading

Congress Battling Over NSA Reform

As the debate over the NSA surveillance scandal rages on, two Congressional committees are now in the midst of a battle that will determine who gets the first crack at reforming the NSA’s intelligence gathering policies.  The battle between the House Intelligence Committee and House Judiciary Committee will largely determine the extent to which the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) will be modified in the post-Snowden era.  While much is still unclear, a historical comparison to the Pike and Church Committees from the Cold War era may well demonstrate which stance the government should take on NSA reforms. Continue reading

Posner Argues Foreigners Have No Right to Privacy From U.S. Surveillance

Prominent legal scholar Eric Posner argued on Slate this past week that foreigners should have no right to privacy from NSA surveillance. In an article entitled “Keep Spying on Foreigners, NSA”, Posner writes “They have no right to privacy from US surveillance- and they shouldn’t.” He argues that there will never be an international digital right to privacy (as Germany has proposed), because it “makes no sense.”  Continue reading

NSA Collecting E-Mail Address Books

In news that shouldn’t be surprising to anybody, new information has come out that says the NSA has been monitoring and collecting e-mail address books in addition to telephone records and other Internet information from American citizens.  The Washington Post claims that this additional program was able to collect information from “a sizable fraction of the world’s e-mail and instant messaging accounts.”  The goal of this program is similar to that of the NSA’s other data collection programs, in that it is intended to find connections among foreign terrorist suspects.  The program allegedly led to the collection of over 250 million address books over the past year. Continue reading

NSA Surveillance Program Overhaul on the Way

Earlier this week, the Senate Intelligence Committee announced plans to make changes to PRISM, the NSA surveillance program outed by Edward Snowden a few months back.  Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) are reportedly drafting the bill to present to Congress as early as next week.  Senator Feinstein did make it clear that they expected a fair amount of amendments to be proposed once it is presented.  Senator Feinstein also stated that the bill’s aim is to increase public confidence in the NSA program that she already believes to be lawful.

Continue reading

NSA Cyber-Defense Plan to be Shot Down

It appears that the NSA’s plan to protect the US against cyber-warfare will be shot down in the near future.  According to The New York Times, officials inside the Obama administration say that the plan comes too soon after the NSA’s disclosures about its surveillance programs to be implemented.   Continue reading