Author Topic: Backlash over US snooping intensifies  (Read 787 times)

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Backlash over US snooping intensifies
« on: June 09, 2013, 08:41:32 PM »

 Last updated: June 10, 2013 12:17 am
Backlash over US snooping intensifies

By Geoff Dyer in Washington

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The Obama administration came under mounting bipartisan pressure on Sunday to scale back electronic surveillance following revelations last week that have raised new questions about government intrusion into citizens’ privacy.

The calls came as the UK’s Guardian newspaper revealed that the whistleblower who leaked information about US surveillance activities was Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former CIA employee who has taken refuge in Hong Kong, setting up a potentially delicate political issue with the Chinese authorities about his fate.

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Speaking from his hotel room on Sunday, Mr Snowden said he revealed the documents because the programmes were an abuse of power. “[The National Security Agency is] intent on making every conversation and every form of behaviour in the world known to them,” he said.

Earlier, Democratic senator Mark Udall called for a review of the Patriot Act, which was written in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, after it was revealed that government surveillance of telephone calls and online activity was more extensive than thought.

The senator, who has warned for years about growing government surveillance, said the law needed to be revised to restore public confidence that privacy was being protected. “My main concern is Americans don’t know the extent to which they are being surveilled,” he told ABC.

Rand Paul, the libertarian Republican senator, said on Sunday that he would consider organising a class-action lawsuit over the collection of telephone and internet information. “We are looking through so much data that I think it makes our fight against terrorism worse.”

Following controversies over drones and leak inquiries, President Barack Obama is now being accused of pursuing the anti-terror policies he once denounced.

Last week, the Guardian and the Washington Post published stories alleging that the NSA collects details about the phone calls of millions of Americans and downloads emails and other online information of non-Americans from the servers of leading US tech companies.

While the administration has admitted that the telephone data story is true, technology companies such as Google and Yahoo and the head of the US intelligence services denied at the weekend that any online information not covered by a federal court warrant was handed over to the government.

The Guardian revealed on Sunday that Mr Snowden, who had been working at the NSA for the past four years while being employed by outside contractors, had asked for his identity to be disclosed. He had gone to Hong Kong three weeks ago because it “was one of the few places in the world that both could and would resist the dictates of the US government”, the paper said.

US officials have said that they will pursue an investigation of the leak. But they might need to secure his extradition from China in order to speak with him. Suggesting that all “his options are bad”, Mr Snowden reflected that the Chinese authorities might also want to speak to him.

Mr Udall and Mr Paul, who are part of a growing group of lawmakers who believe the surveillance activities are going too far, are opposed by some influential figures in Congress.

Mike Rogers, the House intelligence committee chair, said the collection of telephone data had been instrumental in preventing a 2009 plot to explode a bomb on the New York subway.

Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate intelligence committee, said that there was substantial oversight of surveillance activities by both the courts and Congress. “Part of our obligation is keeping Americans safe,” she said. “Human intelligence isn’t going to do it.”

The accusation that US authorities routinely snoop on the online activity of non-Americans has drawn strong condemnation from Microsoft’s former chief privacy adviser. Caspar Bowden, who advised the software company on privacy until 2011 and is now a privacy campaigner, warned that the US’s access to global personal data consigned the rest of the world’s cloud data to a “privacy Guantánamo Bay”.

Mr Bowden said US legislation provided a “carte blanche” for the US to collect business and technical data, and that political information was also expressly covered.

He said the definition of “foreign intelligence information” covered by the US law included anything “with respect to a foreign territory that relates to the conduct of the foreign affairs of the US”.

Mr Bowden added: “We’ve reached a decision point about European sovereignty. Either we rely on the US for our data capacity forever or we bite the bullet and say we need our own cloud software industry.”

Meanwhile, William Hague, UK foreign secretary, has dismissed as “nonsense” fears that the UK’s GCHQ eavesdropping service has been seeking to circumvent Britain’s spy laws by using data gathered by foreign intelligence systems.

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Re: Backlash over US snooping intensifies
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2013, 08:44:52 PM »
The PATRIOT act needs to be torn out, root and branch; it is the ultimate perversion of everything this country has ever stood for and represents nothing less than the victory of the terrorists over us.
I won't vote for Clinton, but I cannot vote for Trump.  How could I explain to my daughter why I supported a man who sees her as nothing more than a piece of meat, a piece of a$$ for him to grope for his own private pleasure.

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