360° Coverage : US looks at ways to prevent spying on its spying

10 Updates

US looks at ways to prevent spying on its spying

Jan 27 2014, 11:03pm CST | by

AP Exclusive: US considers how to prevent spying on its searches of Americans' phone records WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. government is looking at ways to prevent anyone from spying on...

Filed under: news

 
 
 

26 weeks ago

US looks at ways to prevent spying on its spying

Jan 27 2014, 11:03pm CST | by

AP Exclusive: US considers how to prevent spying on its searches of Americans' phone records

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. government is looking at ways to prevent anyone from spying on its own surveillance of Americans' phone records.

As the Obama administration considers shifting the collection of those records from the National Security Agency to requiring that they be stored at phone companies or elsewhere, it's quietly funding research to prevent phone company employees or eavesdroppers from seeing whom the U.S. is spying on, The Associated Press has learned.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has paid at least five research teams across the country to develop a system for high-volume, encrypted searches of electronic records kept outside the government's possession. The project is among several ideas that would allow the government to discontinue storing Americans' phone records, but still search them as needed.

Under the research, U.S. data mining would be shielded by secret coding that could conceal identifying details from outsiders and even the owners of the targeted databases, according to public documents obtained by The Associated Press and AP interviews with researchers, corporate executives and government officials.

In other developments Monday:

—The Justice Department and leading Internet companies agreed to a compromise with the government that would allow the firms to reveal how often they are ordered to turn over information about their customers in national security investigations. The deal with Google Inc., Microsoft Corp., Yahoo Inc., Facebook Inc. and LinkedIn Corp. would provide public information in general terms. Other technology companies were also expected to participate.

—Published reports said new documents leaked by former NSA contactor Edward Snowden suggest that popular mapping, gaming and social networking apps on smartphones can feed the NSA and Britain's GCHQ eavesdropping agency with personal data, including location information and details such as political affiliation or sexual orientation. The reports, published by The New York Times, the Guardian and ProPublica, said the intelligence agencies get routine access to data generated by apps such as the Angry Birds game franchise or the Google Maps navigation service.

—When the New York Times published a censored U.S. document on the smartphone surveillance program, computer experts said they were able to extract what appeared to be the name of an NSA employee, a Middle Eastern terror group the program was targeting and details about the types of computer files the NSA found useful. Since Snowden began leaking documents in June, his supporters have maintained they have been careful not to disclose any agent's identity or operational details that would compromise ongoing surveillance. The employee did not return phone or email messages from the AP. A DNI spokesman said they asked the Times to redact, or black out, the material. A Times spokeswoman blamed a "production error" and said the section was redacted.

—NBC News reported that British cyber spies demonstrated a pilot program to their U.S. partners in 2012 in which they were able to monitor YouTube in real time and collect addresses from the billions of videos watched daily, as well as some user information, for analysis. At the time the documents were printed, they were also able to spy on Facebook and Twitter. The network said the monitoring program was called "Squeaky Dolphin."

Under pressure, the administration has provided only vague descriptions about changes it is considering to the NSA's daily collection and storage of Americans' phone records, which are presently kept in NSA databanks. To resolve legal, privacy and civil liberties concerns, President Barack Obama this month ordered the attorney general and senior intelligence officials to recommend changes by March 28 that would allow the U.S. to identify suspected terrorists' phone calls without the government holding the phone records itself.

One federal review panel urged Obama to order phone companies or an unspecified third party to store the records; another panel said collecting the phone records was illegal and ineffective and urged Obama to abandon the program entirely.

Internal documents describing the Security and Privacy Assurance Research project do not cite the NSA or its phone surveillance program. But if the project were to prove successful, its encrypted search technology could pave the way for the government to shift storage of the records from NSA computers to either phone companies or a third-party organization.

A DNI spokesman, Michael Birmingham, confirmed that the research was relevant to the NSA's phone records program. He cited "interest throughout the intelligence community" but cautioned that it may be some time before the technology is used.

The intelligence director's office is by law exempt from disclosing detailed budget figures, so it's unclear how much money the government has spent on the SPAR project, which is overseen by the DNI's Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity office. Birmingham said the research is aimed for use in a "situation where a large sensitive data set is held by one party which another seeks to query, preserving privacy and enforcing access policies."

A Columbia University computer sciences expert who heads one of the DNI-funded teams, Steven M. Bellovin, estimates the government could start conducting encrypted searches within the next year or two.

"If the NSA wanted to deploy something like this it would take one to two years to get the hardware and software in place to start collecting data this way either from phone companies or whatever other entity they decide on," said Bellovin, who is also a former chief technologist for the Federal Trade Commission.

The NSA's surveillance program collects millions of Americans' daily calling records into a central agency database. When the agency wants to review telephone traffic associated with a suspected terrorist — the agency made 300 such queries in 2012 — it then searches that data bank and retrieves matching calling records and stores them separately for further analysis.

Using a "three-hop" method that allows the NSA to pull in records from three widening tiers of phone contacts, the agency could collect the phone records of up to 2.5 million Americans during each single query. Obama this month imposed a limit of "two hops," or scrutinizing phone calls that are two steps removed from a number associated with a terrorist organization, instead of the current three.

An encrypted search system would permit the NSA to shift storage of phone records to either phone providers or a third party, and conduct secure searches remotely through their databases. The coding could shield both the extracted metadata and identities of those conducting the searches, Bellovin said. The government could use encrypted searches to ensure its analysts were not leaking information or abusing anyone's privacy during their data searches. And the technique could also be used by the NSA to securely search out and retrieve Internet metadata, such as emails and other electronic records.

Some computer science experts are less sanguine about the prospects for encrypted search techniques. Searches could bog down because of the encryption computations needed, said Daniel Weitzner, principal research scientist at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and former deputy U.S. chief technology officer for the Obama administration.

"There's no silver bullet that guarantees the intelligence community will only have access to the records they're supposed to have access to," Weitzner said. "We also need oversight of the actual use of the data."

Intelligence officials worry that phone records stored outside the government could take longer to search and could be vulnerable to hackers or other security threats. The former NSA deputy director, John Inglis, told Congress last year that privacy — both for the agency and for Americans' whose records were collected — is a prime consideration in the agency's preference to store the phone data itself.

The encrypted search techniques could make it more difficult for hackers to access the phone records and could prevent phone companies from knowing which records the government was searching.

"It would remove one of the big objections to having the phone companies hold the data," Bellovin said.

Similar research is underway by researchers at University of California at Irvine; a group from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Texas at Austin; another group from MIT, Yale and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; and a fourth from Stealth Software Technologies, a Los Angeles-based technology company.

Source: AP Business

 
Update
10

7 weeks ago

RM47mil KWSG contributions still unclaimed

Jun 9 2014 7:54am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: About RM47 million of contributions in the Teachers Provident Fund (KWSG) still remain unclaimed, the De ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
9

7 weeks ago

Gold shop lost almost RM1mil

Jun 9 2014 3:50am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KANGAR: A gold shop owner lost almost RM1 million after after the safe on in his shop was broken into by ro ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
8

7 weeks ago

Motion to debate MAS losses in Dewan Rakyat rejected

Jun 9 2014 3:39am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: AN emergency motion to debate the losses incurred by Malaysia Airlines last year, amounting to RM1.2 billion was rejected by the Dewan Rakya ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
7

7 weeks ago

MH370 Tragedy: Hisham: RM27.6 mil spent on 1st phase of SAR

Jun 9 2014 2:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia spent some RM27.6 million in its first phase of the search operations for missing Malaysia Airline flight MH370, said Acting Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammu ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
6

7 weeks ago

9.1m litres of diesel seized in a month

Jun 8 2014 1:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PUTRAJAYA: The Domestic Trade, Cooperatives, and Consumerism ministry has seized some 9.1 million litres of diesel and property worth RM58 million since mounting ‘Operasi Diesel Selatan’ in ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
5

7 weeks ago

Girl, 9, awarded RM2.78m compensation for medical negligence

Jun 6 2014 4:56am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: A nine-year-old girl who suffered brain damage during her birth at a government hospital was awarded over RM2.78 mil ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
4

7 weeks ago

Malaysia's total trade in April up 12pc

Jun 5 2014 11:52pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's total trade in April 2014 rose by 12 per cent from a year ago to RM123.86 billion due to growing trading activities, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Ser ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
3

8 weeks ago

Works Ministry to spend RM20m for upgrading works at 50 accident black spots

Jun 4 2014 11:35pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

JOHOR BARU: The Works Ministry will implement upgrading works at 50 accident prone locations in the country that have been identified this year involving an ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
2

8 weeks ago

Najib launches loan scheme for Ramadan traders

Jun 4 2014 10:24pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today launches RM45 million Ramadan Bazaa ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
1

8 weeks ago

Residents bring up objection against Kidex to Suhakam

Jun 4 2014 4:49am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PETALING JAYA: A group of 20 Petaling Jaya residents held a meeting with the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) over their objection against the proposed RM2.2 billion Kinrara Damansara Skyway (Kidex) toda ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/31" rel="author">Associated Press</a>
The Associated Press (AP) is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering, supplying a steady stream of news to its members, international subscribers and commercial customers.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Watch your waistline for diabetes risk
London, Aug 1 (IANS) A British health report has warned that adults with a large waistline are five times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
 
 
Now SEPA to facilitate euro payments
Brussels, Aug 1 (IANS) The European Commission said Thursday that the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) would become fully operational in all euro zone countries from Aug 1, 2014 onwards.
 
 
Ebola outbreak: $100 mn response plan in West Africa
Geneva, Aug 1 (IANS) The director-general of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and presidents of West African countries hit by the Ebola virus outbreak will Friday meet in Guinea to launch a new $100 million response plan.
 
 
OPEC daily basket price closes lower
Vienna, July 31 (IANS) The basket of 12 crude oils of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) stood at $105.21 a barrel Wednesday, against $105.44 Tuesday, according to the OPEC Secretariat.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Watch your waistline for diabetes risk
London, Aug 1 (IANS) A British health report has warned that adults with a large waistline are five times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. In its report, the Public Health England (PHE), an executive agency of...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Mexico, California to build new border crossing
Mexico City, Aug 1 (IANS) Mexico and the US state of California agreed Thursday to build a new vehicle border crossing to help boost trade, Mexican authorities said. Vice Minister Raul Murrieta Cummings and the...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Offensive on Gaza big gamble for Israelis: Hamas
Gaza, Aug 1 (IANS) The Islamic Hamas movement said Thursday that the continuation of the Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip is a big gamble for the Israelis. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Assad vows persistent fight against 'terrorism' in Syria
Damascus, Aug 1 (IANS) Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Thursday that his administration's war against terrorism is a "battle of existence", state media reported. Assad made the remarks in a speech marking the...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Hamas accepts UN-proposed ceasefire in Gaza
Gaza, Aug 1 (IANS) Islamic Hamas movement and other Palestinian factions accepted early Friday a UN-proposed ceasefire for 72 hours with Israel, a senior Hamas official said. Izzat al-Resheq, member in Qatar based-...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
I was fortunate with all leading ladies, except one: Douglas
Los Angeles, Aug 1 (IANS) Actor Michael Douglas says he always enjoyed a great rapport with all his female co-stars, except one. Although he didn't reveal the name of that one actress, the the 69-year showered praise...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Israel confirms 72-hour ceasefire in Gaza
Jerusalem, Aug 1 (IANS) Israel confirmed Friday it has accepted a proposal for a 72-hour ceasefire with Hamas, which starts at 0500 GMT. "Israel has accepted the U.S./UN proposal for a 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Kelsey Grammer wants more kids
Los Angeles, Aug 1 (IANS) Actor Kelsey Grammer, who recently became father for the sixth time and is also a grandfather, is keen to expand his family even at the age of 69. His young wife Kayte gave birth to the...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Eddie Cibrian has no 'ulterior motives'
Eddie Cibrian believes his new reality TV show will prove he is devoted to LeAnn Rimes. The 41-year-old actor, who tied the knot with the country singer in 2011 after their affair led to the breakdown of their first...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Chad Kroeger buys 17-carat ring for Avril Lavigne
Chad Kroeger bought Avril Lavigne a lavish 17-carat diamond ring for their first wedding anniversary. The 'Here's to Never Growing Up' hitmaker, who married the Nickelback frontman, 39, at Château de La Napoule in the...
Read more on Celebrity Balla