Tag Archives: National Security Agency

NSA’s SKYNET Program May Be Killing Innocent People

In 2015, The Intercept published documents from whistleblower Edward Snowden which detailed the National Security Agency’s SKYNET program. These documents detail how SKYNET engages in mass surveillance of Pakistan’s wireless network, and then uses an algorithm on the cell network metadata in an attempt to rate every member of the population regarding their likelihood of being a terrorist.

Patrick Ball, a data scientist and the director of research at the Human Rights Data Analysis Group, is now stating that he believes a flaw in how the NSA trains SKYNET’s algorithm could be leading to mistakes and improper surveillance. Ball has provided testimony for war crimes tribunals in the past, and he told Ars Technica that the NSA’s methods are “completely bullshit” and called the algorithm scientifically unsound.

Ars Technica reported:

“Somewhere between 2,500 and 4,000 people have been killed by drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004, and most of them were classified by the US government as ‘extremists,’ the Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported. Based on the classification date of ‘20070108’ on one of the SKYNET slide decks (which themselves appear to date from 2011 and 2012), the machine learning program may have been in development as early as 2007.”

Based on Ball’s assessment, it is likely that thousands of innocent people in Pakistan may have been labelled as terrorists and possibly murdered based on the “scientifically unsound” algorithm that SKYNET employs.

SKYNET operates by collecting and storing metadata on the NSA cloud servers before extracting “relevant information” and then using the algorithm to determine possible leads for targeted assassination. These assassinations may be carried out by the “Find-Fix-Finish” strategy implementing Predator drones or “on-the-ground death squads.

SKYNET’s analysis of metadata likely provides the program with details about people who may travel and sleep together, visits to other countries, and contact information. The slides released by Snowden reveal that the NSA machine learning algorithm uses more than 80 different categories to rate people as possible terrorists.

One large problem is that SKYNET relies on the user to provide the machine with examples of “known terrorists” in order to teach the algorithm to look for similar qualities. Ars Technica noted that since most terrorists are unlikely to take a survey from the NSA, the agency relies on possibly faulty indicators of what a terrorist’s behavior will look like. SKYNET’s algorithm analyzes metadata and compares that against a “known terrorist” and then produces a threat score for each individual.

But what happens if the algorithm makes a mistake?

“If they are using the same records to train the model as they are using to test the model, their assessment of the fit is completely bullshit,” says Patrick Ball. “The usual practice is to hold some of the data out of the training process so that the test includes records the model has never seen before. Without this step, their classification fit assessment is ridiculously optimistic.”

The reality is that as long as the people of the United States allow agencies of the U.S. government to operate largely in secret, we will never know what type of programs and criteria are used to judge and analyze our behavior. How long will it be before SKYNET applies its algorithm to the American people?

VIDEO: Activist Group Uses Drone to Drop Anti-Spying Flyers on NSA Facility

Members of Peng!, a tactical media group, published a video online earlier this month in which a drone from the group’s anti-spying campaign is seen dropping flyers, calling on agents to quit their jobs, on the National Security Agency’s Dagger Complex facility in Darmstadt, Germany.

The description panel on the above-embedded YouTube video notes, “The Dagger Complex in Darmstadt, Germany acts as a central point of the NSA’s surveillance and espionage activity in Europe. On Friday Intelexit supporters, the initiative helping people break free from the secret services, dropped information flyers to the 1100 employees working there.

Vice’s Joshua Kopstein wrote, “Dagger Complex has a special significance in surveillance-wary Germany and has long been seen as a slice of the American surveillance state on German soil. The base has been the site of countless protests, including ‘spy spotting’ nature walks organized by activists following the Snowden revelations.

Peng!’s anti-spying campaign, Intelexit, is an initiative launched by privacy advocates seeking to encourage agents working for the National Security Agency and Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters to quit their jobs and become whistleblowers. Prior to launching the aerial flyering campaign, the group also posted a billboard next to Dagger Complex which reportedly says,Listen to your heart, not to private phone calls.” The group has also placed billboards at NSA’s Fort Meade, Md. facility and at GCHQ’s Cheltenham headquarters in England.

An Intelexit spokesperson who goes by the pseudonym Ariel Fischer said, “We know for a fact that there are many, many people working there who are conflicted, anxious and ultimately completely against what these agencies are doing… We make a clear difference between individuals and the structures they are part of. We want to meet our surveillers eye to eye, and say ‘We can help you.’

[RELATED: Democratic Debate: Clinton, Sanders Clash On NSA Spying]

She added, “We have seen a shift in the last years of people leaving, people blowing the whistle, even in the face of great repression and we wanted to support that. If there is a backdoor and people start leaving, and people start talking, and the public starts reacting, they will be forced to change.

On the topic of innovation in activism, Ben Swann is launching a new show highlighting the oft-overlooked work of activists around the world. Watch the Global Activist trailer in the below-embedded video.


Snowden: “The Balance of Power Is Beginning to Shift”

In an op-ed published Thursday in The New York Times, whistleblower and former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden reflected on how circumstances have changed on the two-year anniversary of his first leaks. “Two years ago today, three journalists and I worked nervously in a Hong Kong hotel room, waiting to see how the world would react to the revelation that the National Security Agency had been making records of nearly every phone call in the United States. In the days that followed, those journalists and others published documents revealing that democratic governments had been monitoring the private activities of ordinary citizens who had done nothing wrong,” wrote Snowden in the opening of his retrospective.

At first, politicians rushed to criminally charge Snowden under the 1917 Espionage Act and called him a traitor to his country. “Privately, there were moments when I worried that we might have put our privileged lives at risk for nothing — that the public would react with indifference, or practiced cynicism, to the revelations,” said Snowden.

However, fast-forwarding to the present day, just days after Senator Rand Paul and other civil liberties advocates in the US Senate forced Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, which authorized many of the programs about which Snowden leaked information, to expire and just weeks after a federal appeals court ruled that the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone metadata is illegal, Snowden’s cynicism has given way to optimism. “We are witnessing the emergence of a post-terror generation, one that rejects a worldview defined by a singular tragedy. For the first time since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, we see the outline of a politics that turns away from reaction and fear in favor of resilience and reason. With each court victory, with every change in the law, we demonstrate facts are more convincing than fear. As a society, we rediscover that the value of a right is not in what it hides, but in what it protects,” Snowden said, celebrating recent achievements by US civil liberties activists.

Snowden’s commentary noted that privacy advocates still have work ahead of them given the fact that the newly-signed USA FREEDOM Act essentially compels corporations to sweep up Americans’ phone records on behalf of the government. “Some of the world’s most popular online services have been enlisted as partners in the NSA’s mass surveillance programs, and technology companies are being pressured by governments around the world to work against their customers rather than for them. Billions of cellphone location records are still being intercepted without regard for the guilt or innocence of those affected. We have learned that our government intentionally weakens the fundamental security of the Internet with ‘back doors’ that transform private lives into open books. Metadata revealing the personal associations and interests of ordinary Internet users is still being intercepted and monitored on a scale unprecedented in history: As you read this online, the United States government makes a note.

He also warned citizens in Russia, Canada, France, and the United Kingdom that their governments too seek to take advantage of tragedies to generate political will for the dissolution of recognized civil rights. However, he pointed out some reasons to be optimistic about the flourishing of privacy protection worldwide. “Since 2013, institutions across Europe have ruled similar laws and operations illegal and imposed new restrictions on future activities. The United Nations declared mass surveillance an unambiguous violation of human rights. In Latin America, the efforts of citizens in Brazil led to the Marco Civil, an Internet Bill of Rights. Recognizing the critical role of informed citizens in correcting the excesses of government, the Council of Europe called for new laws to protect whistle-blowers,” said Snowden of the international movement towards the protection of privacy rights.

Snowden also recognized the work of “technologists” who have been toiling to prevent governments from hijacking their products in an effort to “ensure access to basic privacies beyond borders.

At the turning of the millennium, few imagined that citizens of developed democracies would soon be required to defend the concept of an open society against their own leaders… Yet the balance of power is beginning to shift,” said Snowden, recognizing that his decision to essentially destroy his cushy life as a well-paid NSA contractor living in Hawaii was not in vain.

National Journal notes that 2016 Democratic presidential candidate and ex-Senator and Governor from Rhode Island Lincoln Chafee fused support for Snowden into a speech announcing his campaign earlier this week. “Our sacred Constitution requires a warrant before unreasonable searches, which includes our phone records… Let’s enforce that and while we’re at it, allow Edward Snowden to come home,” said Chafee.

After Senate Fails to Extend PATRIOT Act, NSA Begins Shutdown of Bulk Spying Program

Last week, the Obama administration said that it would begin winding down the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of Americans’ private phone data if Congress were to fail to reauthorize Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act by Friday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried desperately to extend the expiring surveillance authority before senators left town, but was shut down by a coalition of Senate privacy advocates led by Senators Rand Paul and Ron Wyden.

Now, National Journal is reporting that the Obama administration has begun to shut down the program. Said an administration official on Saturday, “We’ve said for the past several days that the wind-down process would need to begin yesterday if there was no legislative agreement. That process has begun.” The NSA’s bulk phone spying program had been ruled illegal by a federal appeals court earlier this month, and its authority granted by a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court order expired on May 22.

Republican Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr said that the Obama administration was being “disingenuous” with its claim that the program’s shutdown had begun and that restarting it after the expiration of the FISA court’s Section 215 authority would not be as complicated as officials made it seem. Burr said that he believed that the real shutdown would take place at 4 PM on May 31, meaning that the Senate would have an opportunity to reauthorize the program in an emergency session now scheduled for Sunday. “The database doesn’t go poof and go away,” said Burr. He continued, “And the White House has been very specific that they wanted this bill passed. This was the most significant lobby on a piece of legislation in the six years I’ve seen the Obama administration.”

Last Friday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest urged the Senate to pass the USA FREEDOM Act, a PATRIOT Act alternative that has already passed the House of Representatives, which some say does not include the illegal spying program. However, privacy advocate Congressman Justin Amash (R-MI) says that the USA FREEDOM Act still allows mass surveillance but requires corporations to do it, rather than the government. Earnest blasted McConnell for “playing chicken” with national security programs by pushing for a short-term PATRIOT Act reauthorization instead of the USA FREEDOM Act.

Though senators could reauthorize the expiring Section 215 authority when they return on May 31, the Obama administration said that restarting the program has become more complicated now that the May 22 deadline to submit the application to restart it has passed. “We did not file an application for reauthorization,” said an administration official to National Journal.



Breaking: Obama Admin to Begin Winding Down NSA’s Phone Records Spying Program in Three Days

The clock is ticking, and Congress has until Friday of this week to re-authorize the USA PATRIOT Act’s provision, found in Section 215, which grants the National Security Agency the authority to spy on Americans’ cell phone records, or else the program could be interrupted. According to a Department of Justice memo obtained by National Journal, the Obama administration has announced that it will begin winding down the program at the end of the week if it is not renewed by Congress.

“After May 22, 2015, the National Security Agency will need to begin taking steps to wind down the bulk telephone metadata program in anticipation of a possible sunset in order to ensure that it does not engage in any unauthorized collection or use of the metadata. NSA will attempt to ensure that any shutdown of the program occurs as close in time as possible to the expiration of the authority, assuming the program has not been reauthorized in some form prior to the scheduled sunset of Section 215. In the event of a lapse in authority and subsequent reauthorization, there will necessarily be some time needed to restart the program,” stated the memo, which was sent to members of Congress.

The DOJ memo continued, “Further, the February 26, 2015 Court order renewing the authority for the NSA’s bulk telephone metadata program, which expires at 5:00 pm on June 1, 2015, directs the government to file any proposed renewal application no later than Friday, May 22, 2015, if the government seeks to renew the authorities granted in the order prior to their expiration under the order. For these reasons, after May 22, 2015, it will become increasingly difficult for the government to avoid a lapse in the current NSA program of at least some duration.”

A federal appeals court ruled earlier this month that the program is illegal, and Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) have threatened to filibuster its renewal. The House of Representatives recently passed the USA FREEDOM Act, which some have said ends the cell phone spying program, though Congressman Justin Amash (R-MI) criticized the legislation, saying it would force corporations to store smartphone metadata on behalf of the government. The House of Representatives is scheduled to wrap up its activities for the month on Thursday, after which time many representatives will be leaving Washington DC, meaning legislators in favor of the cell phone spying program are running out of time and options.

The Senate is currently considering the USA FREEDOM Act and two-month and five-year re-authorizations of the USA PATRIOT Act.

Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union and Tea Party Patriots have put aside their differences and teamed up on a TV commercial and ad buy aimed at encouraging lawmakers to end the domestic cell phone spying program. Watch their new commercial in the below-embedded video player.


DNI’s Lawyer Claims James Clapper Forgot About NSA Spying During Misleading Testimony

Following news that a federal appeals court has ruled the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records illegal, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s attorney is pushing back against allegations that he lied to the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2013 when he told Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) that the NSA does not “wittingly” collect any type of data on millions of Americans. Clapper’s misleading testimony, which can be seen in the above-embedded YouTube video, came just before Edward Snowden leaked information about the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ cell phone records to the public.

According to The Hill, Office of the Director of National Intelligence attorney Robert Litt said at Friday’s meeting of the Advisory Committee on Transparency, “This was not an untruth or a falsehood. This was just a mistake on his part… We all make mistakes.”

Litt claimed that Clapper did not have adequate time to prepare for the question prior to the hearing and said, “We were notified the day before that Sen. Wyden was going to ask this question and the Director of National Intelligence did not get a chance to review it… He was hit unaware by the question. After this hearing I went to him and I said, ‘Gee, you were wrong on this.’ And it was perfectly clear that he had absolutely forgotten the existence of the 215 program.” Litt said that Clapper thought Wyden was talking about the NSA’s 702 program, in which records of Americans’ web activity are sometimes unknowingly swept up in digital dragnets aimed at spying on foreigners.

Litt said that he made a mistake by not sending a letter to the Senate committee clarifying the error, considering the fact that he claims to have told Clapper after the hearing that the statement denying the 215 program’s bulk collection of Americans’ metadata was wrong.

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has previously stated that Clapper should be fired and criminally charged for lying to the Senate and said to CNN, according to The Hill, “I find really that Clapper is lying to Congress is probably more injurious to our intelligence capabilities than anything Snowden did because Clapper has damaged the credibility of the entire intelligence apparatus, and I’m not sure what to believe anymore when they come to Congress.” Paul continued, “And I really think that in order to restore confidence in our intelligence community, I think James Clapper should resign.”

Report: DEA Collected Americans’ Phone Records Years Before NSA’s Collection Began

A report released on Tuesday revealed that several years before the National Security Agency began recording Americans’ phone calls, the Drug Enforcement Administration had its own program that began recording calls in 1992.

The report, which was first released by USA Today, found that the DEA’s operation began in 1992, acted as a blueprint for the NSA’s massive data collection program, and was the government’s “first known effort to gather data on Americans in bulk, sweeping up records of telephone calls made by millions of U.S. citizens regardless of whether they were suspected of a crime.”

As previously reported, the existence of the DEA’s program was first revealed in January. However, the full scope of the program was not exposed at the time. USA Today noted that while its report gives insight into the program, there are parts of it that still remain classified.

Officials involved with the operation told USA Today that for more than two decades, the Justice Department and the DEA “amassed logs of virtually all telephone calls from the USA to as many as 116 countries linked to drug trafficking,” with target countries including Canada, Mexico and most of Central and South America.

In a letter from the Justice Department to Sprint in 1998, obtained by USA Today, the department asked the phone company to turn over its call records, and called the DEA’s data collection “one of the most important and effective Federal drug law enforcement initiatives,” which had been “approved at the highest levels of Federal law enforcement authority,” according to Mary Lee Warren, the head of the department’s Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Section.

According to the report, DEA agents did not intercept the content of the phone calls, but they did obtain which numbers were called and when, and they then linked those numbers to an electronic collection of investigative reports, domestic call records and foreign intelligence data.

USA Today reported that although the NSA’s program is still in place, Attorney General Eric Holder halted the DEA’s program in Sept. 2013, after Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA was collecting call records and data from innocent Americans. The report claims that the DEA now sends subpoenas to phone companies, in order to obtain international calling records, and that they sometimes request “a thousand or more numbers a day.”

VIDEO: John Oliver Interviews Edward Snowden About NSA’s Explicit Photos Scandal

On  yesterday’s episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on HBO, Oliver interviewed National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden in Russia and led off by giving Snowden the chance to answer some tough questions from his detractors. The interview segment begins at around the 14 minute mark in the above-embedded video provided on the show’s YouTube channel.

In particular, The Daily Beast points out the fact that Oliver questioned Snowden on whether or not it was wise to release so many classified NSA documents without being able to read them all first, given the fact that some of the leaks could have affected US national security. When asked by Oliver how many of the documents Snowden had actually read prior to turning them over to journalists, Snowden said, “I do understand what I turned over.”

Oliver challenged Snowden further, “So The New York Times took a slide, didn’t redact it properly, and in the end it was possible for people to see that something was being used in Mosul on al Qaeda.”

Snowden replied, “That is a problem… In journalism, we have to accept that some mistakes will be made. This is a fundamental concept of liberty.”

Snowden and Oliver discussed some of the NSA’s foreign surveillance scandals, including its spying on UNICEF, before turning their attention to the issue of whether NSA agents can access the explicit photos that many Americans trade with their significant others via cell phone. “This is something that’s not actually seen as a big deal in the culture of the NSA, because you see naked pictures all the time,” said Snowden.

After Oliver showed Snowden a video of a random sampling of Americans reacting strongly to the thought that the NSA might have their explicit photos, Snowden said, “I guess I never thought about putting [NSA spying] in the context of your junk.”

Oliver provided Snowden with a picture of his own unmentionables and listed off a series of NSA programs and authorities while asking whether agents could use them to justify seizing the photo. In each case, the answer was yes. As an example, Snowden described how PRISM could be used to obtain the photo, “When you send your junk through Gmail, that’s stored on Google’s servers… Google moves data from data center to data center—invisibly to use without your knowledge—your data could be moved outside the borders of the United States, temporarily. When your junk was passed by Gmail, the NSA caught a copy of that… PRISM is how they pull your junk out of Google with Google’s involvement.”

Snowden also admitted that, when he first leaked info about the NSA’s widespread spying on Americans, he was worried that the issue would fail to gain traction in the media. “I was initially terrified that this was going to be a three-day story — everybody was going to forget about it, but, when I saw that everybody around the world said, ‘Whoa, this is a problem. We have to do something about this,’ it felt like vindication.”

Snowden concluded his interview with a uniquely American response to John Oliver’s question about whether people should stop taking explicit photos of themselves on their cell phones given the fact that the NSA has the ability to seize them. “You shouldn’t change your behavior because a government agency somewhere is doing the wrong thing. If we sacrifice our values because we’re afraid, we don’t care about those values very much.”

The New CISPA: Cybersecurity bill passes through Senate Committee

The Cyber Information Security Act (CISA) has passed through the Senate Select Committee on Tuesday by a vote of 12-3, pushing the bill one step further to reaching the Senate floor.

CISA is the latest reincarnation of internet-security based bills to be voted on by the government.  Last year, a similar bill called the Cyber Information Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) passed the House, but was met with controversy over what opponents of the bill called a lack of privacy protections.

“The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA),” reports Julian Hattem from the Hill, “makes it possible for companies and government agencies to share information about possible hackers and security weaknesses with each other, which advocates say is critical to make sure that blind spots aren’t left untended for long.”

Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), one of the people responsible for the creation of CISA, argues the bill would allow businesses and government agencies to more easily exchange information with regards to cyber-attacks.

Feinstein said, according to VPN Creative, “Every week, we hear about the theft of personal information from retailers and trade secrets from innovative businesses, as well as ongoing efforts by foreign nations to hack government networks…this bill is an important step toward curbing these dangerous cyberattacks.”

Opponents to this bill and similar bills have used the Edward Snowden leaks as evidence of the government and NSA abusing cybersecurity flaws in the name of national security.

Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Mark Udall (D-CO) both voted against the bill, saying in a joint-statement, they agree cyber-attacks are a serious threat to American infrastructure, but they have also seen “how the federal government has exploited loopholes to collect Americans’ private information in the name of security.”

The Center for Democracy and Technology also found faults with the bill, saying on the groups website, the bill fails to recognize and address “recently-disclosed cybersecurity-related conduct of the National Security Agency (NSA), some of which undermines cybersecurity.”  The CDF also says the bill would allow law enforcement agencies to wiretap individuals in the name of cybersecurity.

The bill will be heard next by the whole Senate and will be voted on in the coming months.

BREAKING: Can new Michigan legislation nullify all NSA activities in the state?

LANSING, March 25, 2014 – A bipartisan group of Michigan legislators have introduced a bill, which would ban the state from providing material support to the National Security Agency (NSA). The introduced legislation would also block some immediate practical effects of federal warrantless surveillance programs from within the state.

House Bill 5420 (HB5420), the Fourth Amendment Protection Act, was introduced by Rep. Tom McMillin (R-Rochester) last Thursday to prohibit any state support of the NSA. Cosponsors include five Republicans and five Democrats.

“There is a clear assault by federal government agencies like the NSA on Michigan citizens’ fourth amendment rights,” Rep. McMillin said. “We should do everything we can to stop that assault.”

Michigan joins a host of states including Arizona, California, Tennessee and South Carolina which are considering similar legislation to push back against NSA spying this year.

Practically speaking, HB5420 addresses three areas where the NSA relies on state assistance to continue their programs.

The legislation prohibits the state of Michigan and its subdivisions from providing “material support, participation, or assistance in any form that aids in collecting electronic data or metadata concerning any person, if the collection is not pursuant to a warrant that particularly describes the place to be searched and the person or thing to be seized.”

Currently, five schools in the state of Michigan have been labeled by the NSA as a “center for academic excellence.” These university partnerships provide critical research that helps the NSA to expand. Continuance of such programs would be banned should HB5420 become law.

Finally, the legislation would ban the state, including local law enforcement, from using in a criminal investigation or prosecution any electronic communications obtained without a warrant “that particularly describes the place to be searched and the person or thing to be seized.”

While the NSA does not currently operate a data or “threat operations” center in Michigan, Tenth Amendment Center communications director Mike Maharrey said states around the country need to pass similar legislation to make NSA expansion more difficult.

“We know the NSA has aggressively worked to expand its physical locations because it maxed out the Baltimore area power grid in 2006. They’ve built new locations in Utah and Texas, and expanded in several other states,” Maharrey said. “Since the NSA is expanding so wildly, it’s not unlikely that they’re planning to build new data centers and ‘threat operations centers’ in other locations. We can’t wait until the NSA opens up shop. Passage of the Fourth Amendment Protection Act puts the NSA in a pretty tight box, one that we don’t plan to let it out of.”

HB5420 includes criminal charges for state officials that decide to collude with the NSA and aid their spying program. Any state agent or employee who violates the act would commit a “misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 90 days.”

The legislation is based off the long-standing legal principle of the anti-commandeering doctrine, which prohibits the federal government from requiring, or “commandeering” the states to carry out their acts. The Supreme Court has upheld the doctrine in four major cases going back to 1842.

In the Prigg case of 1842, the Supreme Court held that the federal government was not allowed to require the states to help carry out federal slavery laws. The same verdict was reached more recently in Printz v. United States when the Court ruled that states could not be forced to implement federal gun control measures.

HB5420 will first be voted on in the House Judiciary Committee, where it will need to pass before being considered by the full state house.

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South Carolina Democrats and Republicans push legislation to “nullify” NSA

COLUMBIA, March 11, 2014– The campaign to stop unconstitutional National Security Agency (NSA) spying at the state and local level has clearly taken on a life of its own, and is gaining support from across the political aisle.

A bipartisan group of 23 South Carolina representatives introduced the Fourth Amendment Protection Act late last month. Cosponsors include leadership from both parties, with Majority leader Rep. Bruce Bannister (R) and Minority leader Rep. J. Todd Rutherford (D) both signing on to the bill.

Introduced by Rep. Kris Crawford (R-Florence), H.4795 would bar South Carolina or its political subdivision from providing material support for, assisting with, or in any way participating in the collection of a person’s electronic data or metadata by a federal agency or pursuant to any federal law, rule, regulation, or order. The bill would also make any such data collected by the feds and shared with state or local law enforcement inadmissible in court.

Tenth Amendment Center national communications director Mike Maharrey said that the provision dealing with data sharing would likely have the most immediate and far-reaching impact because it erases a practical effect of the NSA’s spy activities.

“We know the NSA shares warrantless data with state and local law enforcement. We know from a Reuters report that most of this shared data has absolutely nothing to do with national security issues,” he said. “This data sharing shoves a dagger into the heart of the Fourth Amendment. This bill would stop that from happening immediately.”

While the NSA does not currently operate a data or “threat operations” center in South Carolina, OffNow coalition spokesperson Shane Trejo said the Palmetto State, and others around the country, need to pass similar legislation to make NSA expansion more difficult.

“As we’ve seen over the last few yeas, the NSA is aggressively expanding in Utah, Texas, Hawaii and other states too,” he said.  “Obviously, the NSA keeps its plans close to the vest. That’s why we can’t just address where it is today, but we have to work to get the entire country to pull up the welcome mat and say, ‘We don’t want you here if you refuse to work within constitutional restraints.”

The legislation sits on well-established legal principle known as anti-commandeering doctrine. Simply put, the federal government cannot “commandeer” or coerce states into implementing or enforcing federal acts or regulations – constitutional or not. The anti-commandeering doctrine rests primarily on four Supreme Court cases dating back to 1842. The 1997 case, Printz v. USserves as the modern cornerstone. The majority opinion deemed commandeering “incompatible with our constitutional system.”

H4795 will first be heard in the house judiciary committee, where seven of the 24 committee members are bill cosponsors. But, inside sources suggest that it will still take significant support to move the bill out of Chairman Greg Delleney’s committee. Should it pass, it will then be considered by the full house.

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Guardian Newspaper May Face Terrorism Charges For Publishing Snowden Leaks


By Michael Lotfi,

According to Reuters, British law enforcement agencies are investigating whether Guardian newspaper staff should be investigated for terrorism offenses over their handling of data leaked by Edward Snowden, Britain’s senior counter-terrorism officer said on Tuesday.

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, was summoned to give evidence at a parliamentary inquiry. He was accused by lawmakers of assisting terrorists by making top secret information public and sharing it with other news organizations.

Several other news sources also published the leaks provided by Edward Snowden, National Security Agency (NSA) contractor.

The leaks also include Britain’s spy agency, GCHQ.

According to law enforcement, data obtained by Snowden contains information on spies, which could put their lives at risk.

Lawmakers told Rusbridger that he had committed an offence under Section 58A of the Terrorism Act. This section makes it a crime to publish or communicate any information about members of the armed forces or intelligence services.

Glen Greenwald is the former Guardian journalist credited with first publishing the Snowden NSA leaks.

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