TIME Courts

Federal Court Ruling Supports NSA’s Phone Data Collection

NSA headquarters Fort Meade maryland
NSA/Getty Images The NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Md.

The court reversed a ruling that found the NSA program unconstitutional

(WASHINGTON) — A federal appeals court has ruled in favor of the Obama administration in a dispute over the bulk collection of phone data on millions of Americans.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Friday reversed a lower court ruling that said the program likely violates the U.S. Constitution’s ban on unreasonable searches.

But the impact of the ruling is uncertain, now that Congress has passed legislation designed to replace the program over the next few months.

The court sent the case back for a judge to determine what further details about the program the government must provide.

The uproar over the surveillance program began in 2013 when former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked details to news organizations.

TIME India

India, Pakistan to Proceed With Border Talks Despite Breakdown of Dialogue, Officials Say

SCO Summit in Ufa
Anadolu Agency—Getty Images Pakistani Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif (L) and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) meet during Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Ufa on July 10, 2015.

A meeting between the National Security Advisors of both countries was nixed over a disagreement on the agenda

India and Pakistan will proceed with bilateral border talks as scheduled despite the latter calling off a meeting between the two countries’ National Security Advisors over the weekend, official sources said Monday.

The meeting between the head of India’s Border Security Force and his Pakistani counterpart of the Rangers paramilitary force in order to discuss the international boundary between the two countries could take place as early as Sept. 6, the Indian Express newspaper reported.

A scheduled meeting between the adversarial neighbors broke down on Sunday after an impasse over the agenda of the talks, with India saying that cross-border terrorism should be the only item included and Pakistan insisting that the fate of the disputed Kashmir region, which is claimed by both countries, would have to be included.

Pakistani officials had also expressed an intention of meeting Kashmiri separatist leaders in the Indian capital New Delhi, prompting India’s foreign minister Sushma Swaraj to serve an ultimatum saying the talks would not proceed if separatist groups were involved. A separatist leader who landed in New Delhi to meet Pakistan’s NSA Sartaj Aziz was detained at the airport.

Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded to Swaraj’s ultimatum by calling off the talks, saying the “preconditions” set by India were not acceptable and the meeting between the officials “would not serve any purpose,” the New York Times reported.

This is the second time since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power last year that scheduled dialogue has been derailed between the two countries, which have fought three wars since they were first formed in 1947 — two of them over the Kashmir dispute. Modi’s meeting with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif at the SCO Summit in Ufa, Russia, last month, where Sunday’s scheduled talks were decided, was hailed as a success but soon came under pressure due to an escalation in the perennial cross-border skirmishes that each country accuses the other of initiating.

The separatist leaders, meanwhile, blamed India for the breakdown of the talks and said no dialogue could proceed without taking into account the viewpoint of the people of Kashmir.

“A message has gone to the world that Kashmir issue is not a bilateral territorial dispute between India and Pakistan and that people of Jammu & Kashmir are the principal party to it,” Ayaz Akbar, the spokesman for the hardline Hurriyat Conference separatist group, told the Times of India newspaper. “The fanatic approach adopted by government is not practicable. How long will New Delhi pursue this policy?”

India’s Home Minister Rajnath Singh, however, pointed out that it was Pakistan and not India that had canceled the talks.

“Pakistan should not have deviated from the agenda decided during the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif [in Ufa in July],” he said.

TIME China

This Map Shows China’s Cyber Invasion Of The U.S. Is Well Underway

140239317
Grant Faint—Getty Images

There have reportedly been more than 600 successful attacks in the past five years

The Chinese government’s ongoing cyber assault on American companies and government entities is a bit of an open secret, but the extent of the alleged campaign has been little understood because victims are reluctant to admit their computer systems have been compromised.

On Thursday, NBC News published a map, obtained by the National Security Administration, that should help further the public’s understanding of the scope of the Chinese cyber invasion of U.S. public and private entities.

The map, which was prepared by the NSA in February 2014, reportedly shows more than 600 successful attempts “to steal corporate and military secrets and data about America’s critical infrastructure, particularly the electrical power and telecommunications and internet backbone.” Each dot represents and individual attack.

According to NBC News:

The prizes that China pilfered during its “intrusions” included everything from specifications for hybrid cars to formulas for pharmaceutical products to details about U.S. military and civilian air traffic control systems, according to intelligence sources.

 

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 8.59.01 AM

 

 

 

 

TIME Security

Edward Snowden: Privacy Remains ‘Under Threat’

FRANCE-US-EU-SURVEILLANCE-SNOWDEN
Frederick Florin—AFP/Getty Images U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden speaks to European officials via videoconference during a parliamentary hearing on improving the protection of whistleblowers, at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, eastern France, on June 24, 2014.

"Technology companies are being pressured by governments around the world"

Edward Snowden has penned a new op-ed celebrating recent reforms of the National Security Administration.

President Barack Obama this week signed into law tighter restrictions for the agency, barring the organization from mass collection and storage of American phone records. Snowden, the man who revealed these practices to the public, is in the New York Times Friday, celebrating the work of Congress and the President as a “profound” achievement, and “a historic victory for the rights of every citizen.” Still, Snowden believes surveillance reform has a long way to go.

Here are some other choice quotes from the article:

  • Snowden had worried at one point that he might have, “put [his] privileged lives at risk for nothing — that the public would react with indifference, or practiced cynicism, to the revelations.” But the changes to the law have, in part, vindicated his decision to risk imprisonment by leaking classified information
  • He calls this weeks events, “only the latest product of a change in global awareness,” citing other events like The U.N. declaring “mass surveillance an unambiguous violation of human rights,” as evidence of a broader movement to curtail spying powers.
  • He also laments that there is more work to do. Writes Snowden: “the right to privacy . . . remains under threat. Some of the world’s most popular online services have been enlisted as partners in the N.S.A.’s mass surveillance programs, and technology companies are being pressured by governments around the world to work against their customers rather than for them.”

Check out the full article over at The New York Times.

TIME White House

New Snowden Documents Reveal Obama Administration Expanded NSA Spying

The Justice Department was looking for evidence of computer hacking schemes

The Obama administration expanded warrantless surveillance of Americans’ Internet searches, according to new National Security Agency documents released by Edward Snowden.

According to ProPublica, which obtained documents from Snowden, in 2012 the Justice Department authorized the NSA to search Internet cables on American soil without a warrant for evidence of computer hacking schemes originating abroad.

The secret memos from 2012 say the NSA could watch Internet traffic flowing to suspicious addresses or containing malware, as well as monitor addresses and cyber signatures.

Read more at ProPublica

TIME National Security

Here’s What Could Happen If the Patriot Act Expires

President Obama warns of lapses in national security

The Patriot Act is set to expire at 12:01 Monday morning unless the Senate votes to extend it, a week after they failed to reach a deal that would allow the law’s anti-terror protections to remain in place.

President Obama and his national security advisers warn that losing the Patriot Act—which has come under fire from those who have privacy and civil liberties concerns—could weaken the government’s ability to prevent terrorist attacks. “I don’t want us to be in a situation where for a certain period of time those authorities go away,” Obama said Friday in the Oval Office. “And heaven forbid we’ve got a problem where we could have prevented a terrorist attack or apprehended someone who was engaged in dangerous activity but we didn’t do so simply because of inaction in the Senate.”

That’s why he’s pushing Senators to pass the USA Freedom Act, a compromise bill that would extend some aspects of the Patriot Act while ending the National Security Agency’s ability to collect phone records in bulk. Under that reform bill, telecommunications companies would store customer’s metadata in bulk, but the NSA would need specific warrants to get someone’s data. The House passed the USA Freedom Act by a wide margin earlier this month, but some Senators are arguing that the bill doesn’t go far enough to protect American freedom and privacy.

Senator Rand Paul told Politico Saturday that he would refuse to allow Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to expedite debate on the bill. “Tomorrow, I will force the expiration of the NSA illegal spy program,” he said.

If the Patriot Act expires and the USA Freedom Act is not passed in its place, the government would lose three tools in the fight against terrorism, according to CNN. The NSA would not longer be allowed to collect metadata on Americans and store that data for five years, as they’re currently allowed to do under Section 215, and law enforcement couldn’t get roving warrants to track all of a terror suspect’s devices—they’d have to get individual warrants for each device. And the U.S. would no longer be legally allowed to use national security powers against “lone wolf” terrorists (i.e., not part of a known terror network), a power the government says it has never used. If the USA Freedom Act is passed, those last two powers would stay intact—only the metadata collection would be affected.

Even if the Patriot Act expires, the government could continue using Section 215 provisions in ongoing investigations of terror suspects—they just couldn’t use them in any new investigations. The NSA has been winding down its metadata collection program this week, and is scheduled to sever all connections with phone companies by Sunday afternoon.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Wednesday that if a deal is not reached, the U.S. could face a “serious lapse” in national security.

TIME National Security

Obama Calls on Senate to Act on Patriot Act During Recess

Barack Obama,
Pablo Martinez Monsivais—AP President Barack Obama speaks to members of the media during his meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Tuesday, May 26, 2015, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington.

“I strongly urge the Senate to work through this recess and make sure that they identify a way to get this done,” Obama said Tuesday

President Obama called on the Senate Tuesday to work through their early summer vacation in order to keep the Patriot Act from expiring in a week.

“I strongly urge the Senate to work through this recess and make sure that they identify a way to get this done,” Obama said, following a meeting with the NATO Secretary General in the Oval Office.

The Senate left town ahead of Memorial Day without passing a bill to either reauthorize or reform the Patriot Act, including portions that have given the National Security Agency leeway to collect massive amounts of data on American’s telephone calls. The House of Representatives came to an agreement and reformed the controversial program, which was revealed in leaks by former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden. The Senate, however, failed to pass the USA Freedom Act before leaving Washington.

The President said Tuesday that the USA Freedom Act “strikes an appropriate balance” between the intelligence community and American’s privacy, but said failing to affirm remaining Patriot Act authorities puts the nation’s security at risk.

“You have a whole range of authorities that are also embodied in the Patriot Act that are non-controversial, that everybody agrees are necessary to keep us safe and secure,” Obama said. “Those also are at risk of lapsing. So this needs to get done.”

Leaders of both the House and the Senate have been in conversations about a compromise bill that would allow the retention of phone records to continue, with the information remaining stored at the phone companies for a set number of years, where it could be searched by government officials with a court order. Currently, the information is retained by the government, a fact that led Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican presidential candidate, to seize the floor of the Senate late last week for 11 hours, helping to prevent a resolution of the issue before the recess.

The Patriot Act expires on June 1.

TIME Books

Without Edward Snowden, Our System Could Have Failed

Ronald Goldfarb is a veteran Washington, DC attorney, literary agent and author of After Snowden: Privacy, Secrecy, and Security in the Information Age. He served in the Justice Department in the Robert F. Kennedy administration.

Snowden's actions may have resulted in positive change that proves our tripartite system works

Every time you pick up a phone, dial a number, write an email, travel on a bus carrying a cell phone, swipe a card somewhere, you leave a trace, and the government has decided that it’s a good idea to collect it all, everything, even if you’ve never been suspected of a crime.”

“…it was the creeping realisation that no one else was going to do this. The public had a right to know about these programmes. The public had a right to know that which the government is doing in its name…”

—Edward Snowden, German TV interview, January 2014

The tripartite nature of American government is on display. Congress is contemplating extending the Patriot Act, allowing it to expire, or reforming it by June 1. A federal court yesterday concluded that the controversial s.215 of the Patriot Act allowing secret meta data gathering of phone records by the government was illegal. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals did not specifically rule that the Patriot Act was unconstitutional, though critics of the Act will certainly see the suggestion in this opinion.

In a 97-page unanimous opinion in a case entitled ACLU v. Clapper, et. al., the prestigious 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City reversed an earlier trial court ruling, and held that s. 215’s bulk telephone data program is subject to judicial review. In the core of this opinion, Judge Gerard Lynch wrote that “the program exceeds the scope of what Congress has authorized.” The opinion discussed the history of the earlier Church Committee hearings about historic abusive surveillance practices of intelligence agencies, and the evolution of the FISA Act (1978) allowing secret ex parte proceedings, and the Patriot Act now under review in Congress.

The court decision dealt with the meta data practices of Verizon performed at the government’s order, and revealed by The Guardian with information leaked by Edward Snowden. The order applies to other service providers, as well, by implication.

The government argued that any complaint about its practices had to be made to the FISA court. The 2nd Circuit concluded that its judicial review was appropriate. And I would note that this court was far more “judicial” than the ex parte, secret hearings conducted by FISA “courts.”

The circuit court ruled that the government’s position—that its standard for collecting metadata conforms with prevailing search and seizure law—was wrong. “Unprecedented and unwarranted” were the words used. The court found that the “sheer volume of information sought is staggering,” and that the amount and nature of the data collected was qualitatively too broad and vague, neither within proper bounds nor limited to data required for fighting the war on terror. The government’s procedures, the court ruled, are “inconsistent with the very concept of an investigation”, lacking specificity, relevance, time limitations.

The court concluded that “to allow the government to collect phone records only because they may be relevant to a possible authorized investigation in the future “is impermissible, irreconcilable with the statute.” Congress can’t be deemed to have approved a program of which many members were unaware, and which was “shrouded in secrecy,” the court added, agreeing with critics that congressional oversight of national security surveillance procedures since 9/11 has been lacking. In an observation critical of the process of congressional oversight in national security matters, the court remarked that suggesting legislative approval of the questionable practices “would ignore reality.”

Its conclusion: S.215 “does not authorize the telephone metadata program.” It refused to deal with claims that S. 215 violated the First and Fourth Amendments, noting that Congress is considering the future of the Patriot Act and may act on these questions imminently. The court deemed it prudent to allow for that debate in Congress which may “profoundly alter the legal landscape.”

Edward Snowden must be smiling today as he remains in his prolonged exile in Russia. All the reforms of the excesses of data surveillance he revealed indicate that his disclosures have had the impact that motivated him. Top UN officials have questioned the practices of member states which violate core privacy rights; reformative laws are pending in Congress; a White House panel has called for 46 reforms of prevailing practices; Congressional oversight of national security procedures has been questioned by prestigious experts in the field. None of this would have happened if Snowden had not committed his audacious act of civil disobedience. His influence has been historic. His answer on German TV to those who argue that Snowden is a traitor: “If I am a traitor, who did I betray? I gave all my information to the American public.” And to the world, as it turned out.

Our country sometimes acts precipitously in times of great provocation, as it did with Japanese-Americans after Pearl Harbor, for example; but in time we make amends for these excesses. Some of our actions after 9/11, extreme rendition, for example, and excessive surveillance techniques now under consideration in Congress and the federal courts, may result in reform of illegal procedures Mr. Snowden exposed. Good signs that our tripartite system works.

Ronald Goldfarb is a veteran Washington, DC attorney, author, and literary agent. He served in the Justice Department in the Robert F. Kennedy administration. His book, After Snowden: Privacy, Secrecy, and Security in the Information Age, will be published next week.

Contributors to After Snowden are: Thomas Blanton, director of the National Security Archive; Hodding Carter III, professor of leadership and public policy at the University of North Carolina; David Cole, professor at Georgetown University Law Center; Jon Mills, dean emeritus, professor of law, and director of the Center of Governmental Responsibility at the University of Florida’s Fredric G. Levin College of Law; Barry Siegel, director of the University of California, Irvine, Literary Journalism Program; and Edward Wasserman, dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME National Security

Court Rules Against NSA’s Bulk Collection of Phone Records

This undated photo provided by the National Security Agency (NSA) shows its headquarters in Fort Meade, Md.
NSA/Getty Images This undated photo provided by the National Security Agency (NSA) shows its headquarters in Fort Meade, Md.

The Patriot Act "cannot bear the weight the government asks us to assign to it," the court said

The National Security Agency’s mass collection of phone call records without a search warrant is illegal, an appeals court ruled on Thursday.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals said the practice, largely exposed to the public by the Edward Snowden leaks two years ago, is not authorized by Section 215 of the Patriot Act passed by Congress, as the government claims.

The decision returned the case, brought by civil rights groups, to a lower court judge. But it neither ordered the data collection to stop immediately nor passed judgement on the constitutionality of the data collection, saying that Congress could still try to pass a measure that does sanction the practice.

“We hold that the text of § 215 cannot bear the weight the government asks us to assign to it, and that it does not authorize the telephone metadata program,” the court wrote in its ruling.

The ruling comes as Congress considers whether to extend the Patriot Act by June, including with potential revisions to limit the government’s data collection. Anthony Romero, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the case, said in a statement that Thursday’s ruling should guide that process.

“The current reform proposals from Congress look anemic in light of the serious issues raised by the Second Circuit,” Romero said. “Congress needs to up its reform game if it’s going to address the court’s concerns.”

In a statement to TIME, National Security Council spokesperson Ned Price said it was still evaluating the decision.

“Without commenting on the ruling today, the President has been clear that he believes we should end the Section 215 bulk telephony metadata program as it currently exists by creating an alternative mechanism to preserve the program’s essential capabilities without the government holding the bulk data,” Price said. “We continue to work closely with members of Congress from both parties to do just that, and we have been encouraged by good progress on bipartisan, bicameral legislation that would implement these important reforms.”

MONEY privacy

Will the New Consumer Privacy Bill Protect You?

person using smartphone in dark
Kohei Hara—Getty Images

A proposed law would beef up your rights when your data is leaked or stolen.

Legislation that would establish new nationwide privacy protections for American consumers was introduced by a group of high-profile Democratic senators on Thursday, including Pat Leahy (Vermont) and Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts). The Consumer Privacy Protection Act would establish federal standards for notification of consumers when their data is lost or stolen, greatly expand the definition of private information beyond financial data, and allow existing state privacy laws to remain in force. Geolocation data and images would be covered by its data leak disclosure rules, for example.

“Today, data security is not just about protecting our identities and our bank accounts, it is about protecting our privacy. Americans want to know not just that their bank account and credit cards are safe and secure, they want to know that their emails and their private pictures are protected as well,” Sen. Leahy said. “Companies who benefit financially from our personal information should be obligated to take steps to keep it safe, and to notify us when those protections have failed.”

Consumer groups cheered the proposal, saying it offered a fresh approach to consumer privacy.

“This is a step forward. This is the first time you get something new in federal legislation. Usually it scales back (protections) in state law,” said Justin Brookman, director of consumer privacy at the Center for Democracy and Technology. “It’s good to see some new thinking on the issue, something that actually adds new protections for a lot of people.”

“Everyone from the NSA to the local grocer has become a consumer of our data. So many pieces of our data are being collected, stored, shared and sold, either without our knowledge or ability to understand the process,” said Adam Levin, privacy expert and chairman and founder of Credit.com. “It is long overdue that we expand the definition of ‘personally identifying information’ as well as the protections necessary to safeguard our privacy and data security and require quick notification when our PII is exposed.”

The legislation would require social media firms or cloud email providers to notify consumers if their accounts are compromised, Brookman said. Currently, most disclosure rules apply only to financial information such as credit card numbers.

The legislation comes on the heels of a similar White House proposal called “The Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights Act of 2015,” but goes several steps further than the administration’s proposal, said Susan Grant of the Consumer Federation of America. The White House proposal would allow federal law to supersede state laws, potentially diminishing consumer rights. It also requires demonstration of actual harm before requiring notice.

“(We believe) that federal legislation will only be helpful to consumers if it provides them with greater privacy and security protection than they have today. Most of the bills that we have seen in Congress would actually weaken existing consumer rights and the ability of state and federal agencies to enforce them,” Grant said. “(This bill) takes the right approach, requiring reasonable security measures, providing strong consumer protection and enforcement, and only pre-empting state laws to the extent that they provide less stringent protection.”

Most significant: The legislation creates entire new classes of protected information. Private information is divided into seven categories. Compromise of any one of them would require companies to notify consumers. They are:

  1. Social Security numbers and other government-issued identification numbers;
  2. Financial account information, including credit card numbers and bank accounts;
  3. Online usernames and passwords, including email addresses and passwords;
  4. Unique biometric data, including fingerprints;
  5. Information about a person’s physical and mental health;
  6. Information about a person’s geolocation;
  7. Access to private digital photographs and videos.

Leahy has repeatedly proposed legislation since 2005 that would establish a nationwide notification standard called the Personal Data Privacy and Security Act; it has not passed. While co-sponsors of this new bill include Al Franken (Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Ron Wyden (Ore.) and Edward J. Markey (Mass.), there are, notably, no Republican co-sponsors. That probably dooms the bill, says Brookman.

“They didn’t get a GOP co-sponsor, and that’s not a great sign. Still, having the bill out there is good for dialog on the issue,” he said.

More from Credit.com

This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com