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Government surveillance

U.S. government plans to scan your private emails using cybersecurity program as a cover

Monday, April 01, 2013 by: J. D. Heyes
Tags: government surveillance, cybersecurity, emails

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(NaturalNews) As mainstream political and media figures head-fake the country with near wall-to-wall coverage of whether men and women should be allowed to marry each other, the U.S. government is planning to snoop through more and more of your private email, using the "threat of cyber terrorism" as its excuse.

Reports in recent days say the additional snooping will come in the form of an expanded cyber security program designed to scan Internet traffic heading into and out of defense contractors; the scanning will "include far more of the country's private, civilian-run infrastructure," NBC News reported.

That means that more private sector employees than at any previous time - including employees of utilities, big banks, key transportation companies and others - will have emails and web browsing scanned, as a cyber security precaution.

Congress isn't to blame for this latest assault on privacy. This one comes in the form of an executive order on cyber security issued by President Obama in February. Under the order, scans will be driven by classified information provided by the U.S. intelligence community - including data from the National Security Agency - on new or serious espionage threats and hacking attempts. In mid-March, the heads of U.S. spy agencies said cyber attacks have replaced terrorism as the nation's top threat.

And guess who's spearheading this abuse?

In what should immediately raise red flags for Americans, under the order the Department of Homeland Security is in charge of gathering up the secret data then distributing it to a select group of telecommunications companies and cyber security providers. Those firms will offer to process email and other Internet transmissions for so-called critical infrastructure customers choosing to take part in the program.

By placing DHS as the go-between, the White House is hoping to bring the formidable foreign intelligence-gathering capability of the NSA closer to ordinary U.S. citizens "without triggering an outcry from privacy advocates who have long been leery of the spy agency's eavesdropping," NBC News said.

Reports noted that the telecoms supposedly won't report back to the government about what they see, except using aggregate stats, according to a senior DHS official who spoke to NBC on condition of anonymity (a condition that will, of course, exist only until the administration demands specifics on key people, which will eventually happen).

"That allows us to provide more sensitive information," the official said. "We will provide the information to the security service providers that they need to perform this function."

Separately the Obama regime is seeking legislation that would give incentives to private companies, including communications carriers (otherwise known as taxpayer-financed bribes) "to disclose more to the government," said NBC News. NSA Director General Keith Alexander has tried to assuage any privacy concerns by noting publicly that his agency isn't interested in personal data, but Internet service providers could tell government officials if they encountered any malicious software and if so, what Internet Protocol (IP) addresses they were send to or originated from.

"There is a way to do this that ensures civil liberties and privacy and does ensure the protection of the country," Alexander told a congressional hearing, as if he would ever say so should the agency have other uses for the data that will be dissected.

Potential for abuse is real

The new order comes on concern that cyber attacks are liable to both increase in the future and become more severe. To that end, in the past Internet traffic scanning was limited mainly to government networks and Pentagon contractors, both of which have long been targets of foreign electronic espionage efforts.

National security concerns aside, this idea has abuse written all over it, even if each participating telecom is doing so voluntarily, civil libertarians warn.

Lee Tien, a staff lawyer for the non-profit Electronic Frontier Foundation, says Obama's EO did not weaken existing privacy laws, but that anytime a machine acting on classified information is processing private communications, it makes him wonder what other secret little functions are being performed, but which are not being addressed.

"You have to wonder what else that box does," Tien said.





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