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NSA Spying | Electronic Frontier Foundation

The US government, with assistance from major telecommunications carriers including AT&T, has engaged in massive, illegal dragnet surveillance of the domestic communications and communications records of millions of ordinary Americans since at least 2001. Since this was first reported on by the press and discovered by the public in late 2005, EFF has been at the forefront of the effort to stop it and bring government surveillance programs back within the law and the Constitution.

History of NSA Spying Information since 2005 (See EFFs full timeline of events here)

News reports in December 2005 first revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been intercepting Americans phone calls and Internet communications. Those news reports, combined with a USA Today story in May 2006 and the statements of several members of Congress, revealed that the NSA is also receiving wholesale copies of American’s telephone and other communications records. All of these surveillance activities are in violation of the privacy safeguards established by Congress and the US Constitution.

In early 2006, EFF obtained whistleblower evidence (.pdf) from former AT&T technician Mark Klein showing that AT&T is cooperating with the illegal surveillance. The undisputed documents show that AT&T installed a fiberoptic splitter at its facility at 611 Folsom Street in San Francisco that makes copies of all emails web browsing and other Internet traffic to and from AT&T customers and provides those copies to the NSA. This copying includes both domestic and international Internet activities of AT&T customers. As one expert observed, this isnt a wiretap, its a country-tap.

Secret government documents, published by the media in 2013, confirm the NSA obtains full copies of everything that is carried along major domestic fiber optic cable networks. In June 2013, the media, led by the Guardian and Washington Post started publishing a series of articles, along with full government documents, that have confirmed much of what was reported in 2005 and 2006 and then some. The reports showed-and the government later admittedthat the government is mass collecting phone metadata of all US customers under the guise of the Patriot Act. Moreover, the media reports confirm that the government is collecting and analyzing the content of communications of foreigners talking to persons inside the United States, as well as collecting much more, without a probable cause warrant. Finally, the media reports confirm the upstream collection off of the fiberoptic cables that Mr. Klein first revealed in 2006. (See EFFs How It Works page here for more)

EFF Fights Back in the Courts

EFF is fighting these illegal activities in the courts. Currently, EFF is representing victims of the illegal surveillance program in Jewel v. NSA,a lawsuit filed in September 2008 seeking to stop the warrantless wiretapping and hold the government and government officials behind the program accountable. In July 2013, a federal judge ruled that the government could not rely on the controversial “state secrets” privilege to block our challenge to the constitutionality of the program. On February 10, 2015, however, the court granted summary judgment to the government on the Plaintiffs allegations of Fourth Amendment violations based on the NSAs copying of Internet traffic from the Internet backbone. The court ruled that the publicly available information did not paint a complete picture of how the NSA collects Internet traffic, so the court could not rule on the program without looking at information that could constitute state secrets. The court did not rule that the NSAs activities are legal, nor did it rule on the other claims in Jewel, and the case will go forward on those claims.This case is being heard in conjunction with Shubert v. Obama, which raises similar claims.

In July, 2013, EFF filed another lawsuit, First Unitarian v. NSA, based on the recently published FISA court order demanding Verizon turn over all customer phone records including who is talking to whom, when and for how longto the NSA. This so-called metadata, especially when collected in bulk and aggregated, allows the government to track the associations of various political and religious organizations. The Director of National Intelligence has since confirmed that the collection of Verizon call records is part of a broader program.

In addition to making the same arguments we made in Jewel, we argue in First Unitarian that this type of collection violates the First Amendment right to association. Previously, in Hepting v. AT&T,EFF filed the first case against a cooperating telecom for violating its customers’ privacy. After Congress expressly intervened and passed the FISA Amendments Act to allow the Executive to require dismissal of the case,Hepting was ultimately dismissed by the US Supreme Court.

In September of 2014, EFF, along with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho, joined the legal team for Anna Smith, an Idaho emergency neonatal nurse, in her challenge of the government’s bulk collection of the telephone records of millions of innocent Americans. In Smith v. Obama, we are arguing the program violated her Fourth Amendment rights by collecting a wealth of detail about her familial, political, professional, religious and intimate associations. In particular, we focus on challenging the applicability of the so-called third party doctrine, the idea that people have no expectation of privacy in information they entrust to others.

First Unitarian v. NSA: EFFs case challenging the NSAs phone metadata surveillance

Jewel v. NSA: EFFs case challenging the NSAs dragnet surveillance

Hepting v. AT&T: EFFs case that challenged AT&Ts complicity in illegal NSA spying

Smith v. Obama: EFF’s appeal with the ACLU of an Idaho nurse’s challenge to the NSA’s phone metadata surveillance.

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NSA Spying | Electronic Frontier Foundation

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Urban Dictionary: NSA

Everything I say and do on my laptop, on the internet and worse, in what used to be the comfort, safety and privacy of my own home, is NSA.

Now my whole life and everything I once considered personal and private including: what I look like when I wake up; when I sleep; how I look naked; how often I fart; my whole life story; what I say to a confidant like my mother is all NSA since those guys loaded spyware on my laptop, ironically one of whom repeatedly told me I couldn’t keep a secret.

Antonyms: be faithful, be loyal, defend, protect, support

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Urban Dictionary: NSA

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National Speakers Association – Wikipedia

This article may have been created or edited in return for undisclosed payments, a violation of Wikipedia’s terms of use. It may require cleanup to comply with Wikipedia’s content policies.National Speakers AssociationFormation1973Legal statusActiveHeadquartersTempe, AZ[1]Location

Region served

Membership

President

The National Speakers Association (NSA) is a professional speakers’ organization in the United States that supports the pursuit of public speaking as a business. [3]

NSA is the oldest and largest of 13 international associations comprising the Global Speakers Federation.[4][5]

Contents

NSA was founded in 1973 by Cavett Robert who was born 14 November 1907 in Starkville, Mississippi and died in September 1997.[6] The members hold to a code of helping one another known as “The Spirit of Cavett” and [7] in honor of Cavett’s birthday, NSA celebrates the “Spirit of NSA” day every 14 November.[6] Even though he suffered from stage fright in his younger years, Cavett Robert joined Toastmasters International and went on to receive his first paid speech at the age of 61.[6] Cavett’s idea for NSA began with just 35 attendees of the Phoenix Summer Sales Seminar in 1969.[6] After years of work, the National Speakers Association was incorporated on 12 July 1973. Cavett Robert’s hope was to build a bigger pie so everyone could have a bigger slice.[6] In July 1979, Robert was honored with NSAs first Member of the Year Award, later renamed The Cavett Award.[6]

NSA has its national office in Tempe, Arizona, and 37 regional chapters throughout the United States.[8] NSA’s first 10 chapters were officially chartered at the 1981 Convention. Even though many of the names have changed, these 10 chapters still exist today.[6] NSA’s professional competencies were adopted in June 1985 and continue to drive all facets of NSA today. These competencies are known today as the four E’s: Eloquence, Expertise, Enterprise and Ethics.[6] In January 1991, the NSA staff moved into the new headquarters building at 1500 South Priest Drive in Tempe, Arizona, and have been there ever since.[6] In July 2014, they changed their name to Platform,[9] but abandoned the change for multiple reasons. There was public dissent among NSA members as cited in various blog posts and social media discussions.[10] In addition the brand appeared to conflict with the branding in use by author Michael Hyatt.[10]

In order to join the National Speakers Association, professional speakers must document that they are regularly paid to speak professionally.[11] This may be demonstrated in one of three ways:

NSA holds an annual national convention each summer featuring some of the most successful speakers in the industry, such as Steve Forbes, Sally Hogshead, Erik Wahl, Nancy Duarte, Walter Bond, and Penn Jillette.[12] NSA’s first Convention was held 1 June 1975 with 62 attendees gathered at the Scottsdale Camelback Inn.[6]

NSA holds several intensive labs throughout the year featuring a deep-dive on speaking business, marketing and eloquence topics to help professional speakers grow their business and perfect their speaking craft. Past labs have included: Leverage Lab: Creating Multiple Streams of Income, Stagecraft Secrets Lab: Presentation Power to Ignite Any Audience, Laugh Lab: How To Funnier (Even If You’re Not That Funny Now), and Platform Profits Lab: How to Sell Before, During & After Your Speech, and Media Lab: The Deep-Dive Lab on Broadcast, Print & Social Media.[13] NSA’s first lab was held 30 April 1994 at the International Center for Professional Speaking. NSA continues to host a lab every year to offer speakers an intimate learning environment with labs capping at around 200 attendees.[6]

The 35 individual chapters are led by an elected president and a board of directors. Chapters usually hold monthly meetings featuring a speaker and networking time. Nationally, NSA has a Chapter Leadership Council composed of past presidents who serve as resources and volunteer consultants to current chapter leaders.[14][15][16][17][18][19]

In February 1977, the Association established the Council of Peers Award for Excellence (CPAE) Speaker Hall of Fame. This lifetime award was created to honor the organization’s top professional speakers for their speaking excellence and professionalism. Inductees are evaluated by their peers, and must excel in five categories: message, presentation/delivery, experience, professionalism, and collateral material.[20] The award is not based on celebrity status, number of speeches, amount of income or volunteer involvement in NSA. To date, 232 men and women have been inducted; there are currently 172 living members. Up to five new inductees are named each year at the National Convention.[20] The association conferred an honorary CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame award on General Colin L. Powell, USA (Ret.) in 1999, D. John Hammond in 2007, and Joe Larson in 2012.[20]

Conferred by the Association, the Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) designation is the speaking professions international measure of professional platform competence. Only a little more than 12 percent of speakers worldwide currently hold this credential.[21][22] In 2015, NSA recognized 51 professional speakers, the largest class of individuals to receive the designation at the Annual NSA Convention.[23]

In order to be considered for the CSP designation,[21] the candidate must:

The association launched the Academy for Professional Speaking in January 2004 to teach those exploring a career in professional speaking.[6] The Academy consists of eLearning and the one-day Cavett Institute, named after NSA founder Cavett Robert, CSP, CPAE. This meeting is held prior to NSA’s annual national Convention and features programming for people who want to turn their passion for speaking into a full-time profession.[24]

Speaker Magazine, is published 10 times annually in print and digital formats and includes the latest marketing strategies, tips, information and innovative ideas from top professionals worldwide. NSA’s magazine was rebranded and renamed to Speaker magazine in January 2007. A year later in June 2008, Speaker magazine went digital. In 2013, NSA launched SpeakerMagazine.com and introduced a mobile application [6]

With the help of 34 working NSA members, NSA published its first book, Paid to Speak: Best Practices for Building a Successful Speaking Business.[6] One year after publishing Paid to Speak, NSA published its second book, Speak More! Marketing Strategies to Get More Speaking Business.[6] A commemorative 40th anniversary volume, National Speakers Association: Celebrating 40 Years of Conventional Wisdom, describing the history of the National Speakers Association, highlighting the individuals, events, initiatives and programs involved in the association’s growth and influence was published in July 2013.[25]

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National Speakers Association – Wikipedia

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National Security Agency | USAGov

The National Security Agency provides foreign signal and communications intelligence to decision makers to protect our nations national security systems and information from theft or damage.

NSA

National Security Agency (NSA)

Contact the National Security Agency

9800 Savage Rd.Suite 6272Fort Meade, MD 20755-6000

1-301-688-6311

Executive Department Sub-Office/Agency/Bureau

Back to Top

Last Updated: June 11, 2018

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National Security Agency | USAGov

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NSA | Define NSA at AcronymFinder

NSANational Security Agency (US government)NSANational Speakers AssociationNSANo Strings AttachedNSANaval Support ActivityNSANetwork Security Appliance (Sonicwall)NSANotary Signing AgentNSANational Security AdvisorNSANot Seasonally AdjustedNSANational Security ArchiveNSANational Security ActNSANational Society of AccountantsNSANational Sheriffs’ Association (Alexandria, VA, USA)NSANational Security AffairsNSANo Sugar AddedNSANational Stuttering AssociationNSANational Stroke AssociationNSANetwork Spinal AnalysisNSANational Spiritual Assembly (Institution of the Baha’i Faith)NSANorwegian Shipowners AssociationNSANorth Slope of AlaskaNSANational Sheep Association (Malvern, Worcestershire, UK)NSANational Safety AssociatesNSANational Scrabble AssociationNSANon-State Actor (international relations)NSANational Student AssociationNSANorth Star AcademyNSANew Saint Andrews College (Moscow, Idaho)NSANational Sunflower AssociationNSANational Stone Association (Washington, DC)NSANational Stereoscopic AssociationNSANegative Security AssurancesNSANational Steeplechase AssociationNSANational Sound ArchiveNSANational Security AreaNSANATO Standardization AgencyNSANational Smokers AllianceNSANebraska Statewide ArboretumNSANegotiated Service Agreement (US postal service)NSANational Security Agents (gaming clan)NSANon-Standard AnalysisNSANational Seniors Australia (est. 1976)NSANuclear Science AbstractsNSANormalized Site AttenuationNSANashville School of the Arts (Tennessee)NSANational Storytelling AssociationNSANational Slag Association (Alexandria, VA)NSANorthern Study AreaNSANavy Support ActivityNSANational Skateboard AssociationNSANoise Sensitive AreaNSANikkei Stock AverageNSANational Shipping AuthorityNSANational School of Administration (China)NSANon-surgical Sperm AspirationNSANunavut Settlement AreaNSANew Statistical Account (Reports on the conditions of Scotland, with reports on each parish, in the 1830s)NSANational Supers Agency (fictional from the movie The Incredibles)NSANational Safety AssociationNSANational Security Anarchists (hacker group)NSANational Sprint Association (UK)NSANatuurwetenschappelijke Studievereniging Amsterdam (University of Amsterdam Physics Department student organization)NSANebraska Soybean AssociationNSANaperville Soccer AssociationNSANo Smoking AreaNSANational Softball Association, Inc.NSANorcross Soccer Association (Georgia)NSANaval Supervising ActivityNSANational Singles Association (Atlanta, Georgia)NSANavy Stock AccountNSANight Stalker AssociationNSANational Success AssociationNSANational Shuffleboard AssociationNSANational Software AllianceNSANo Significant Abnormalities (disease assessment)NSANorthern Slope of AlaskaNSANational Service Alliance, LLCNSANon Semi Auto (concealed handgun license; Texas)NSANon Standard Area (of a database)NSANantucket Shellfish Association (Nantucket, MA)NSANational Scout AssociationNSANational Standard ApplicationNSANarrow-Slot ApproximationNSANational Sentinel AuditNSANode Switching AssemblyNSANet Sales AreaNSANetwork Search AlgorithmNSANikkei Student AssociationNSANuclear Support AgencyNSANaval Systems AnalysisNSANetwork South Australia (Adelaide, Australia)NSANichiren Shosu of AmericaNSANet Sellable Area (real estate)NSANeutron Source AssemblyNSANet Server AssistantNSANorwegian Security ActNSANabelschnurarterie (German: Umbilical Cord Artery)NSANarrow Slot ApertureNSANikkei Siam Aluminium Limited (Pathumtani, Thailand)NSANon Standard Ammunition (munitions)NSANew Student Ambassadors (various schools)NSANippon Software Industry Association (Japan)NSANippon Steel AustraliaNSANippon Supporters Association (Japan)NSANippon Surfing Association (Japan)NSANo Secrets AssociationNSANeil Stewart Associates (UK)NSANetwork Security AdministratorNSANetwork Security AgreementNSANetwork Simplex AlgorithmNSANever Standing AloneNSANew Settlement Apartments (New York, NY)NSANew Small Airplane (Boeing)NSANetwork Storage Appliance (computing)NSANetwork Supported Account (Cisco)NSANetwork Systems Administrator (various organizations)NSANouvelle Substance Active (French: New Active Substance; Canada)NSANon-Self-AlignedNSANon-Standard Auto (insurance)NSANordic Securities Association (est. 2008)NSANaczelny Sad Administracyjny (Polish: Supreme Administrative Court)NSANational Scrapbooking AssociationNSANational Sex AuthorityNSANational Smokejumper AssociationNSANational Snow Analyses (US NOAA)NSANeed Special AssistanceNSANatural Systems AgricultureNSANational Supervisory Authority (EU)NSANational Survey of AdolescentsNSANative Speakers of ArabicNSANational Statistical Authorities (EU)NSANational Sports Academy (various locations)NSANational Space Agency

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NSA | Define NSA at AcronymFinder

Posted in NSA

Urban Dictionary: NSA

A shared abbreviation that can mean one of many things (the most common): No Strings Attached & National Security Agency.

No Strings Attached is a common English Adverb / expression that refers to no other obligations or responsibilities in a deal. The abrev. NSA has become connected to the casual sex terminology as someone wishing to engage in sexual activities while being free of all responsibilities associated with a romantic relationship.

Many people believe the National Security Agency operates much like the CIA, however, the NSA is a division of the US Defense Department and specializes on the protection of all US Government Communication & Information Systems. The NSA is limited to information surveillance (national and international only) and does not engage in human intelligence activities.

Other such abbreviations: National Shipping Authority, National Standards Association, National Student Association, National Scrabble Association, Niagara Soccer Association, National Scrabble Association, etc. etc.

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Urban Dictionary: NSA

Posted in NSA

NSA Spying | Electronic Frontier Foundation

The US government, with assistance from major telecommunications carriers including AT&T, has engaged in massive, illegal dragnet surveillance of the domestic communications and communications records of millions of ordinary Americans since at least 2001. Since this was first reported on by the press and discovered by the public in late 2005, EFF has been at the forefront of the effort to stop it and bring government surveillance programs back within the law and the Constitution.

History of NSA Spying Information since 2005 (See EFFs full timeline of events here)

News reports in December 2005 first revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been intercepting Americans phone calls and Internet communications. Those news reports, combined with a USA Today story in May 2006 and the statements of several members of Congress, revealed that the NSA is also receiving wholesale copies of American’s telephone and other communications records. All of these surveillance activities are in violation of the privacy safeguards established by Congress and the US Constitution.

In early 2006, EFF obtained whistleblower evidence (.pdf) from former AT&T technician Mark Klein showing that AT&T is cooperating with the illegal surveillance. The undisputed documents show that AT&T installed a fiberoptic splitter at its facility at 611 Folsom Street in San Francisco that makes copies of all emails web browsing and other Internet traffic to and from AT&T customers and provides those copies to the NSA. This copying includes both domestic and international Internet activities of AT&T customers. As one expert observed, this isnt a wiretap, its a country-tap.

Secret government documents, published by the media in 2013, confirm the NSA obtains full copies of everything that is carried along major domestic fiber optic cable networks. In June 2013, the media, led by the Guardian and Washington Post started publishing a series of articles, along with full government documents, that have confirmed much of what was reported in 2005 and 2006 and then some. The reports showed-and the government later admittedthat the government is mass collecting phone metadata of all US customers under the guise of the Patriot Act. Moreover, the media reports confirm that the government is collecting and analyzing the content of communications of foreigners talking to persons inside the United States, as well as collecting much more, without a probable cause warrant. Finally, the media reports confirm the upstream collection off of the fiberoptic cables that Mr. Klein first revealed in 2006. (See EFFs How It Works page here for more)

EFF Fights Back in the Courts

EFF is fighting these illegal activities in the courts. Currently, EFF is representing victims of the illegal surveillance program in Jewel v. NSA,a lawsuit filed in September 2008 seeking to stop the warrantless wiretapping and hold the government and government officials behind the program accountable. In July 2013, a federal judge ruled that the government could not rely on the controversial “state secrets” privilege to block our challenge to the constitutionality of the program. On February 10, 2015, however, the court granted summary judgment to the government on the Plaintiffs allegations of Fourth Amendment violations based on the NSAs copying of Internet traffic from the Internet backbone. The court ruled that the publicly available information did not paint a complete picture of how the NSA collects Internet traffic, so the court could not rule on the program without looking at information that could constitute state secrets. The court did not rule that the NSAs activities are legal, nor did it rule on the other claims in Jewel, and the case will go forward on those claims.This case is being heard in conjunction with Shubert v. Obama, which raises similar claims.

In July, 2013, EFF filed another lawsuit, First Unitarian v. NSA, based on the recently published FISA court order demanding Verizon turn over all customer phone records including who is talking to whom, when and for how longto the NSA. This so-called metadata, especially when collected in bulk and aggregated, allows the government to track the associations of various political and religious organizations. The Director of National Intelligence has since confirmed that the collection of Verizon call records is part of a broader program.

In addition to making the same arguments we made in Jewel, we argue in First Unitarian that this type of collection violates the First Amendment right to association. Previously, in Hepting v. AT&T,EFF filed the first case against a cooperating telecom for violating its customers’ privacy. After Congress expressly intervened and passed the FISA Amendments Act to allow the Executive to require dismissal of the case,Hepting was ultimately dismissed by the US Supreme Court.

In September of 2014, EFF, along with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho, joined the legal team for Anna Smith, an Idaho emergency neonatal nurse, in her challenge of the government’s bulk collection of the telephone records of millions of innocent Americans. In Smith v. Obama, we are arguing the program violated her Fourth Amendment rights by collecting a wealth of detail about her familial, political, professional, religious and intimate associations. In particular, we focus on challenging the applicability of the so-called third party doctrine, the idea that people have no expectation of privacy in information they entrust to others.

First Unitarian v. NSA: EFFs case challenging the NSAs phone metadata surveillance

Jewel v. NSA: EFFs case challenging the NSAs dragnet surveillance

Hepting v. AT&T: EFFs case that challenged AT&Ts complicity in illegal NSA spying

Smith v. Obama: EFF’s appeal with the ACLU of an Idaho nurse’s challenge to the NSA’s phone metadata surveillance.

Read more:

NSA Spying | Electronic Frontier Foundation

Posted in NSA

National Speakers Association (NSA) | Where professional …

NSA provides professional speakers with the comprehensive resources, mentoring and professional connections they need to become more efficient and more effective in all aspects of their trade. Our 3,400+ members reach audiences as thought leaders, authors, consultants, coaches, trainers, educators, humorists, and motivators. Anyone who uses the spoken word to impact listeners can benefit from NSA membership.

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National Speakers Association (NSA) | Where professional …

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NSA – Worldwide shipping specialists

Welcome to Neptune Shipping Agency Ltd. We are specialists in shipping by road, rail, sea and air. Our shipping containers are available in in 20 standard, 40 Standard and 40 High Cube sizes. We are also able to help with large abnormal loads.

Now that Brexit is in motion we are faced with uncertainty over the results of the negotiations between the UK and the EU. As members of BIFA (British International Freight Association), Neptune are receiving up to date notifications on how Brexit could impact on our industry and the aims BIFA has for these negotiations which can be found here.

Please be informed that Neptune Shipping Agency LTD have now ceased data transmission by fax.

Going forward, please make the necessary adjustments to ensure all documents and data are sent via E-mail or uploaded via online tracker.

Please visit our Contact page for more info.

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NSA – Worldwide shipping specialists

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The Shadow Factory: The NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping …

A Washington Post Notable Book

Important and disturbing. . . . This revealing and provocative book is necessary reading . . . Bamford goes where the 9/11 Commission did not fully go.Senator Bob Kerrey, The Washington Post Book World

Fascinating. . . . Bamford has distilled a troubling chapter in American history.Bloomberg News

At its core and at its best, Bamfords book is a schematic diagram tracing the obsessions and excesses of the Bush administration after 9/11. . . . There have been glimpses inside the NSA before, but until now no one has published a comprehensive and detailed report on the agency. . . . Bamford has emerged with everything except the combination to the directors safe.The New York Times Book ReviewEngaging. . . . Chilling. . . . Bamford is able to link disparate facts and paint a picture of utter, compounded failurefailure to find the NSAs terrorist targets and failure to protect American citizens communications from becoming tangled in a dragnet.The San Francisco ChronicleThe bad news in Bamfords fascinating new study of the NSA is that Big Brother really is watching. The worse news . . . is that Big Brother often listens in on the wrong people and sometimes fails to recognize critical information. . . . Bamford convincingly argues that the agency . . . broke the law and spied on Americans and nearly got away with it. The Baltimore Sun

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The Shadow Factory: The NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping …

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ECHELON – Wikipedia

ECHELON, originally a secret government code name, is a surveillance program (signals intelligence/SIGINT collection and analysis network) operated by the US with the aid of four other signatory nations to the UKUSA Security Agreement[1]: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States, also known as the Five Eyes.[2][3][4]

The ECHELON program was created in the late 1960s to monitor the military and diplomatic communications of the Soviet Union and its Eastern Bloc allies during the Cold War, and was formally established in 1971.[5][6]

By the end of the 20th century, the system referred to as “ECHELON” had evolved beyond its military and diplomatic origins, to also become “a global system for the interception of private and commercial communications” (mass surveillance and industrial espionage).[7]

The European Parliament’s Temporary Committee on the ECHELON Interception System stated, “It seems likely, in view of the evidence and the consistent pattern of statements from a very wide range of individuals and organisations, including American sources, that its name is in fact ECHELON, although this is a relatively minor detail”.[7] The U.S. intelligence community uses many code names (see, for example, CIA cryptonym).

Former NSA employee Margaret Newsham claims that she worked on the configuration and installation of software that makes up the ECHELON system while employed at Lockheed Martin, from 1974 to 1984 in Sunnyvale, California, in the United States, and in Menwith Hill, England, in the UK.[8] At that time, according to Newsham, the code name ECHELON was NSA’s term for the computer network itself. Lockheed called it P415. The software programs were called SILKWORTH and SIRE. A satellite named VORTEX intercepted communications. An image available on the internet of a fragment apparently torn from a job description shows Echelon listed along with several other code names.[9][10]

Britain’s The Guardian newspaper summarized the capabilities of the ECHELON system as follows:

A global network of electronic spy stations that can eavesdrop on telephones, faxes and computers. It can even track bank accounts. This information is stored in Echelon computers, which can keep millions of records on individuals.

Officially, however, Echelon doesn’t exist.[11]

In 1972, former NSA analyst Perry Fellwock under pseudonym Winslow Peck, first blew the whistle on ECHELON to Ramparts in 1972,[12] where he gave commentary revealing a global network of listening posts and his experiences working there. Fellwock also included revelations such as the Israeli attack on USSLiberty was deliberate and known by both sides, the existence of nuclear weapons in Israel in 1972, the widespread involvement of CIA and NSA personnel in drugs and human smuggling, and CIA operatives leading Nationalist China (Taiwan) commandos in burning villages inside PRC borders.[13]

In 1982, James Bamford, investigative journalist and author wrote The Puzzle Palace, an in-depth look inside the workings of the NSA, then a super-secret agency, and the massive eavesdropping operation under the codename “SHAMROCK”. The NSA has used many codenames, and SHAMROCK was the codename used for ECHELON prior to 1975.[14][15]

In 1988, Margaret Newsham, a Lockheed employee under NSA contract, disclosed the ECHELON surveillance system to members of congress. Newsham told a member of the U.S. Congress that the telephone calls of Strom Thurmond, a Republican U.S. senator, were being collected by the NSA. Congressional investigators determined that “targeting of U.S. political figures would not occur by accident, but was designed into the system from the start.”[16]

Also in 1988, an article titled “Somebody’s Listening”, written by investigative journalist Duncan Campbell in the New Statesman, described the signals intelligence gathering activities of a program code-named “ECHELON”.[16] James Bamford describes the system as the software controlling the collection and distribution of civilian telecommunications traffic conveyed using communication satellites, with the collection being undertaken by ground stations located in the footprint of the downlink leg.[17]

In 1996, a detailed description of ECHELON was provided by New Zealand journalist Nicky Hager in his 1996 book Secret Power: New Zealand’s Role in the International Spy Network.[18] Two years later, Hager’s book was cited by the European Parliament in a report titled “An Appraisal of the Technology of Political Control” (PE 168.184).[19]

In March 1999, for the first time in history, the Australian government admitted that news reports about the top secret UKUSA Agreement were true.[20] Martin Brady, the director of Australia’s Defence Signals Directorate (DSD) told the Australian broadcasting channel Nine Network that the DSD “does co-operate with counterpart signals intelligence organisations overseas under the UKUSA relationship.”[21]

In 2000, James Woolsey, the former Director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, confirmed that U.S. intelligence uses interception systems and keyword searches to monitor European businesses.[22]

Lawmakers in the United States feared that the ECHELON system could be used to monitor U.S. citizens.[23] According to The New York Times, the ECHELON system has been “shrouded in such secrecy that its very existence has been difficult to prove.”[23] Critics said the ECHELON system emerged from the Cold War as a “Big Brother without a cause”.[24]

The program’s capabilities and political implications were investigated by a committee of the European Parliament during 2000 and 2001 with a report published in 2001.[7] In July 2000, the Temporary Committee on the ECHELON Interception System was established by the European parliament to investigate the surveillance network. It was chaired by the Portuguese politician Carlos Coelho, who was in charge of supervising investigations throughout 2000 and 2001.

In May 2001, as the committee finalised its report on the ECHELON system, a delegation travelled to Washington, D.C. to attend meetings with U.S. officials from the following agencies and departments:

All meetings were cancelled by the U.S. government and the committee was forced to end its trip prematurely.[26] According to a BBC correspondent in May 2001, “The US Government still refuses to admit that Echelon even exists.”[5]

In July 2001, the Temporary Committee on the ECHELON Interception System released its final report.[27] On 5 September 2001, the European Parliament voted to accept the committee’s report.[28]

The European Parliament stated in its report that the term ECHELON is used in a number of contexts, but that the evidence presented indicates that it was the name for a signals intelligence collection system. The report concludes that, on the basis of information presented, ECHELON was capable of interception and content inspection of telephone calls, fax, e-mail and other data traffic globally through the interception of communication bearers including satellite transmission, public switched telephone networks (which once carried most Internet traffic), and microwave links.[7]

Two internal NSA newsletters from January 2011 and July 2012, published as part of the Snowden-revelations by the website The Intercept on 3 August 2015, for the first time confirmed that NSA used the codeword ECHELON and provided some details about the scope of the program: ECHELON was part of an umbrella program codenamed FROSTING, which was established by the NSA in 1966 to collect and process data from communications satellites. FROSTING had two sub-programs:[29]

The UKUSA intelligence community was assessed by the European Parliament (EP) in 2000 to include the signals intelligence agencies of each of the member states:

The EP report concluded that it seemed likely that ECHELON is a method of sorting captured signal traffic, rather than a comprehensive analysis tool.[7]

In 2001, the EP report (p.54 ff)[7] listed the following ground stations as likely to have, or to have had, a role in intercepting transmissions from telecommunications satellites:

The following stations are listed in the EP report (p.57 ff) as ones whose roles “cannot be clearly established”:

The ability to intercept communications depends on the medium used, be it radio, satellite, microwave, cellular or fiber-optic.[7] During World War II and through the 1950s, high-frequency (“short-wave”) radio was widely used for military and diplomatic communication[50] and could be intercepted at great distances.[7] The rise of geostationary communications satellites in the 1960s presented new possibilities for intercepting international communications.

In 1964, plans for the establishment of the ECHELON network took off after dozens of countries agreed to establish the International Telecommunications Satellite Organisation (Intelsat), which would own and operate a global constellation of communications satellites.[20]

In 1966, the first Intelsat satellite was launched into orbit. From 1970 to 1971, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) of Britain began to operate a secret signal station at Morwenstow, near Bude in Cornwall, England. The station intercepted satellite communications over the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Soon afterwards, the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) built a second signal station at Yakima, near Seattle, for the interception of satellite communications over the Pacific Ocean.[20]

In 1981, the GCHQ and the NSA started the construction of the first global wide area network (WAN). Soon after Australia, Canada, and New Zealand joined the ECHELON system.[20] The report to the European Parliament of 2001 states: “If UKUSA states operate listening stations in the relevant regions of the earth, in principle they can intercept all telephone, fax, and data traffic transmitted via such satellites.”[7]

Most reports on ECHELON focus on satellite interception. Testimony before the European Parliament indicated that separate but similar UK-U.S. systems are in place to monitor communication through undersea cables, microwave transmissions, and other lines.[51] The report to the European Parliament points out that interception of private communications by foreign intelligence services is not necessarily limited to the U.S. or British foreign intelligence services.[7]

The role of satellites in point-to-point voice and data communications has largely been supplanted by fiber optics. In 2006, 99% of the world’s long-distance voice and data traffic was carried over optical-fiber.[52] The proportion of international communications accounted for by satellite links is said to have decreased substantially to an amount between 0.4% and 5% in Central Europe.[7] Even in less-developed parts of the world, communications satellites are used largely for point-to-multipoint applications, such as video.[53] Thus, the majority of communications can no longer be intercepted by earth stations; they can only be collected by tapping cables and intercepting line-of-sight microwave signals, which is possible only to a limited extent.[7]

British journalist Duncan Campbell and New Zealand journalist Nicky Hager asserted in the 1990s that the United States was exploiting ECHELON traffic for industrial espionage, rather than military and diplomatic purposes.[51] Examples alleged by the journalists include the gear-less wind turbine technology designed by the German firm Enercon[7][54] and the speech technology developed by the Belgian firm Lernout & Hauspie.[55]

In 2001, the Temporary Committee on the ECHELON Interception System recommended to the European Parliament that citizens of member states routinely use cryptography in their communications to protect their privacy, because economic espionage with ECHELON has been conducted by the U.S. intelligence agencies.[7]

American author James Bamford provides an alternative view, highlighting that legislation prohibits the use of intercepted communications for commercial purposes, although he does not elaborate on how intercepted communications are used as part of an all-source intelligence process.

In its report, the committee of the European Parliament stated categorically that the Echelon network was being used to intercept not only military communications, but also private and business ones. In its epigraph to the report, the parliamentary committee quoted Juvenal, “Sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes.” (“But who will watch the watchers”).[7] James Bamford, in The Guardian in May 2001, warned that if Echelon were to continue unchecked, it could become a “cyber secret police, without courts, juries, or the right to a defence”.[56]

Alleged examples of espionage conducted by the members of the “Five Eyes” include:

The first American satellite ground station for the ECHELON collection program was built in 1971 at a military firing and training center near Yakima, Washington. The facility, which was codenamed JACKKNIFE, was an investment of ca. 21.3 million dollars and had around 90 people. Satellite traffic was intercepted by a 30-meter single dish antenna. The station became fully operational on 4 October 1974. It was connected with NSA headquarters at Fort Meade by a 75-baud secure Teletype orderwire channel.[29]

In 1999 the Australian Senate Joint Standing Committee on Treaties was told by Professor Desmond Ball that the Pine Gap facility was used as a ground station for a satellite-based interception network. The satellites were said to be large radio dishes between 20 and 100 meters in diameter in geostationary orbits. The original purpose of the network was to monitor the telemetry from 1970s Soviet weapons, air defence- and other radar’s capabilities, satellite’s ground station’s transmissions and ground-based microwave communications.[68]

The television series Alias made recurring references to ECHELON throughout its run.

The antagonist of the anime series Digimon Tamers, D-Reaper, was created by ECHELON.

Echelon Conspiracy, inspired by the surveillance system ECHELON, is a 2009 action thriller film directed by Greg Marcks. It tells the story of Max Peterson (Shane West), an American computer specialist who attempts to uncover a secret plot to turn the world into a global police state. After being chased down by NSA agent Raymond Burke (Martin Sheen), Peterson decides to flee to Moscow.

The video game series Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell also draws inspiration from this. The series features the protagonist, Sam Fisher, a trained operative belonging to a fictional branch of the National Security Agency called Third Echelon (later, in Splinter Cell: Blacklist, the unit is replaced by the Fourth Echelon).

The 2007 film The Bourne Ultimatum makes several references to ECHELON. A CIA listening station in London is alerted when ECHELON detects the keyword “Blackbriar” in a cell phone conversation between a journalist and his editor.[69] Later in the film, CIA Deputy Director Pamela Landy requests an “ECHELON package” on the main character, Jason Bourne.

Alternative rock band Thirty Seconds to Mars’ first album includes a song called “Echelon”. Their fan base is also referred to as the Echelon, though an explanation has not been given as to why the fanbase and the song are referred to as such.

In the 2000 computer game Deus Ex, the signals intelligence supercomputers Daedalus and Icarus (later Helios) are referred to as Echelon IV.

The sci-fi crime thriller, Person of Interest, a television show which aired from 2011 to 2016 on the CBS network, had a data-collecting supercomputer as its central narrative.

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ECHELON – Wikipedia

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NSA Spying | Electronic Frontier Foundation

The US government, with assistance from major telecommunications carriers including AT&T, has engaged in massive, illegal dragnet surveillance of the domestic communications and communications records of millions of ordinary Americans since at least 2001. Since this was first reported on by the press and discovered by the public in late 2005, EFF has been at the forefront of the effort to stop it and bring government surveillance programs back within the law and the Constitution.

History of NSA Spying Information since 2005 (See EFFs full timeline of events here)

News reports in December 2005 first revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been intercepting Americans phone calls and Internet communications. Those news reports, combined with a USA Today story in May 2006 and the statements of several members of Congress, revealed that the NSA is also receiving wholesale copies of American’s telephone and other communications records. All of these surveillance activities are in violation of the privacy safeguards established by Congress and the US Constitution.

In early 2006, EFF obtained whistleblower evidence (.pdf) from former AT&T technician Mark Klein showing that AT&T is cooperating with the illegal surveillance. The undisputed documents show that AT&T installed a fiberoptic splitter at its facility at 611 Folsom Street in San Francisco that makes copies of all emails web browsing and other Internet traffic to and from AT&T customers and provides those copies to the NSA. This copying includes both domestic and international Internet activities of AT&T customers. As one expert observed, this isnt a wiretap, its a country-tap.

Secret government documents, published by the media in 2013, confirm the NSA obtains full copies of everything that is carried along major domestic fiber optic cable networks. In June 2013, the media, led by the Guardian and Washington Post started publishing a series of articles, along with full government documents, that have confirmed much of what was reported in 2005 and 2006 and then some. The reports showed-and the government later admittedthat the government is mass collecting phone metadata of all US customers under the guise of the Patriot Act. Moreover, the media reports confirm that the government is collecting and analyzing the content of communications of foreigners talking to persons inside the United States, as well as collecting much more, without a probable cause warrant. Finally, the media reports confirm the upstream collection off of the fiberoptic cables that Mr. Klein first revealed in 2006. (See EFFs How It Works page here for more)

EFF Fights Back in the Courts

EFF is fighting these illegal activities in the courts. Currently, EFF is representing victims of the illegal surveillance program in Jewel v. NSA,a lawsuit filed in September 2008 seeking to stop the warrantless wiretapping and hold the government and government officials behind the program accountable. In July 2013, a federal judge ruled that the government could not rely on the controversial “state secrets” privilege to block our challenge to the constitutionality of the program. On February 10, 2015, however, the court granted summary judgment to the government on the Plaintiffs allegations of Fourth Amendment violations based on the NSAs copying of Internet traffic from the Internet backbone. The court ruled that the publicly available information did not paint a complete picture of how the NSA collects Internet traffic, so the court could not rule on the program without looking at information that could constitute state secrets. The court did not rule that the NSAs activities are legal, nor did it rule on the other claims in Jewel, and the case will go forward on those claims.This case is being heard in conjunction with Shubert v. Obama, which raises similar claims.

In July, 2013, EFF filed another lawsuit, First Unitarian v. NSA, based on the recently published FISA court order demanding Verizon turn over all customer phone records including who is talking to whom, when and for how longto the NSA. This so-called metadata, especially when collected in bulk and aggregated, allows the government to track the associations of various political and religious organizations. The Director of National Intelligence has since confirmed that the collection of Verizon call records is part of a broader program.

In addition to making the same arguments we made in Jewel, we argue in First Unitarian that this type of collection violates the First Amendment right to association. Previously, in Hepting v. AT&T,EFF filed the first case against a cooperating telecom for violating its customers’ privacy. After Congress expressly intervened and passed the FISA Amendments Act to allow the Executive to require dismissal of the case,Hepting was ultimately dismissed by the US Supreme Court.

In September of 2014, EFF, along with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho, joined the legal team for Anna Smith, an Idaho emergency neonatal nurse, in her challenge of the government’s bulk collection of the telephone records of millions of innocent Americans. In Smith v. Obama, we are arguing the program violated her Fourth Amendment rights by collecting a wealth of detail about her familial, political, professional, religious and intimate associations. In particular, we focus on challenging the applicability of the so-called third party doctrine, the idea that people have no expectation of privacy in information they entrust to others.

First Unitarian v. NSA: EFFs case challenging the NSAs phone metadata surveillance

Jewel v. NSA: EFFs case challenging the NSAs dragnet surveillance

Hepting v. AT&T: EFFs case that challenged AT&Ts complicity in illegal NSA spying

Smith v. Obama: EFF’s appeal with the ACLU of an Idaho nurse’s challenge to the NSA’s phone metadata surveillance.

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NSA Spying | Electronic Frontier Foundation

Posted in NSA

Urban Dictionary: NSA

A shared abbreviation that can mean one of many things (the most common): No Strings Attached & National Security Agency.

No Strings Attached is a common English Adverb / expression that refers to no other obligations or responsibilities in a deal. The abrev. NSA has become connected to the casual sex terminology as someone wishing to engage in sexual activities while being free of all responsibilities associated with a romantic relationship.

Many people believe the National Security Agency operates much like the CIA, however, the NSA is a division of the US Defense Department and specializes on the protection of all US Government Communication & Information Systems. The NSA is limited to information surveillance (national and international only) and does not engage in human intelligence activities.

Other such abbreviations: National Shipping Authority, National Standards Association, National Student Association, National Scrabble Association, Niagara Soccer Association, National Scrabble Association, etc. etc.

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Urban Dictionary: NSA

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National Security Agency – Wikipedia

National Security Agency

Seal of the National Security Agency

Flag of the National Security Agency

The National Security Agency (NSA) is a national-level intelligence agency of the United States Department of Defense, under the authority of the Director of National Intelligence. The NSA is responsible for global monitoring, collection, and processing of information and data for foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes, specializing in a discipline known as signals intelligence (SIGINT). The NSA is also tasked with the protection of U.S. communications networks and information systems.[8][9] The NSA relies on a variety of measures to accomplish its mission, the majority of which are clandestine.[10]

Originating as a unit to decipher coded communications in World War II, it was officially formed as the NSA by President Harry S. Truman in 1952. Since then, it has become one of the largest U.S. intelligence organizations in terms of personnel and budget.[6][11] The NSA currently conducts worldwide mass data collection and has been known to physically bug electronic systems as one method to this end.[12] The NSA has also been alleged to have been behind such attack software as Stuxnet, which severely damaged Iran’s nuclear program.[13][14] The NSA, alongside the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), maintains a physical presence in many countries across the globe; the CIA/NSA joint Special Collection Service (a highly classified intelligence team) inserts eavesdropping devices in high value targets (such as Presidential palaces or embassies). SCS collection tactics allegedly encompass “close surveillance, burglary, wiretapping, [and] breaking and entering”.[15][16]

Unlike the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), both of which specialize primarily in foreign human espionage, the NSA does not publicly conduct human-source intelligence gathering. The NSA is entrusted with providing assistance to, and the coordination of, SIGINT elements for other government organizations – which are prevented by law from engaging in such activities on their own.[17] As part of these responsibilities, the agency has a co-located organization called the Central Security Service (CSS), which facilitates cooperation between the NSA and other U.S. defense cryptanalysis components. To further ensure streamlined communication between the signals intelligence community divisions, the NSA Director simultaneously serves as the Commander of the United States Cyber Command and as Chief of the Central Security Service.

The NSA’s actions have been a matter of political controversy on several occasions, including its spying on anti-Vietnam-war leaders and the agency’s participation in economic espionage. In 2013, the NSA had many of its secret surveillance programs revealed to the public by Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor. According to the leaked documents, the NSA intercepts and stores the communications of over a billion people worldwide, including United States citizens. The documents also revealed the NSA tracks hundreds of millions of people’s movements using cellphones metadata. Internationally, research has pointed to the NSA’s ability to surveil the domestic Internet traffic of foreign countries through “boomerang routing”.[18]

The origins of the National Security Agency can be traced back to April 28, 1917, three weeks after the U.S. Congress declared war on Germany in World War I. A code and cipher decryption unit was established as the Cable and Telegraph Section which was also known as the Cipher Bureau.[19] It was headquartered in Washington, D.C. and was part of the war effort under the executive branch without direct Congressional authorization. During the course of the war it was relocated in the army’s organizational chart several times. On July 5, 1917, Herbert O. Yardley was assigned to head the unit. At that point, the unit consisted of Yardley and two civilian clerks. It absorbed the navy’s Cryptanalysis functions in July 1918. World War I ended on November 11, 1918, and the army cryptographic section of Military Intelligence (MI-8) moved to New York City on May 20, 1919, where it continued intelligence activities as the Code Compilation Company under the direction of Yardley.[20][21]

After the disbandment of the U.S. Army cryptographic section of military intelligence, known as MI-8, in 1919, the U.S. government created the Cipher Bureau, also known as Black Chamber. The Black Chamber was the United States’ first peacetime cryptanalytic organization.[22] Jointly funded by the Army and the State Department, the Cipher Bureau was disguised as a New York City commercial code company; it actually produced and sold such codes for business use. Its true mission, however, was to break the communications (chiefly diplomatic) of other nations. Its most notable known success was at the Washington Naval Conference, during which it aided American negotiators considerably by providing them with the decrypted traffic of many of the conference delegations, most notably the Japanese. The Black Chamber successfully persuaded Western Union, the largest U.S. telegram company at the time, as well as several other communications companies to illegally give the Black Chamber access to cable traffic of foreign embassies and consulates.[23] Soon, these companies publicly discontinued their collaboration.

Despite the Chamber’s initial successes, it was shut down in 1929 by U.S. Secretary of State Henry L. Stimson, who defended his decision by stating, “Gentlemen do not read each other’s mail”.[24]

During World War II, the Signal Intelligence Service (SIS) was created to intercept and decipher the communications of the Axis powers.[25] When the war ended, the SIS was reorganized as the Army Security Agency (ASA), and it was placed under the leadership of the Director of Military Intelligence.[25]

On May 20, 1949, all cryptologic activities were centralized under a national organization called the Armed Forces Security Agency (AFSA).[25] This organization was originally established within the U.S. Department of Defense under the command of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.[26] The AFSA was tasked to direct Department of Defense communications and electronic intelligence activities, except those of U.S. military intelligence units.[26] However, the AFSA was unable to centralize communications intelligence and failed to coordinate with civilian agencies that shared its interests such as the Department of State, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).[26] In December 1951, President Harry S. Truman ordered a panel to investigate how AFSA had failed to achieve its goals. The results of the investigation led to improvements and its redesignation as the National Security Agency.[27]

The agency was formally established by Truman in a memorandum of October 24, 1952, that revised National Security Council Intelligence Directive (NSCID) 9.[28] Since President Truman’s memo was a classified document,[28] the existence of the NSA was not known to the public at that time. Due to its ultra-secrecy the U.S. intelligence community referred to the NSA as “No Such Agency”.[29]

In the 1960s, the NSA played a key role in expanding U.S. commitment to the Vietnam War by providing evidence of a North Vietnamese attack on the American destroyer USSMaddox during the Gulf of Tonkin incident.[30]

A secret operation, code-named “MINARET”, was set up by the NSA to monitor the phone communications of Senators Frank Church and Howard Baker, as well as major civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King, Jr., and prominent U.S. journalists and athletes who criticized the Vietnam War.[31] However, the project turned out to be controversial, and an internal review by the NSA concluded that its Minaret program was “disreputable if not outright illegal”.[31]

The NSA mounted a major effort to secure tactical communications among U.S. forces during the war with mixed success. The NESTOR family of compatible secure voice systems it developed was widely deployed during the Vietnam War, with about 30,000 NESTOR sets produced. However a variety of technical and operational problems limited their use, allowing the North Vietnamese to exploit and intercept U.S. communications.[32] :Vol I, p.79

In the aftermath of the Watergate scandal, a congressional hearing in 1975 led by Sen. Frank Church[33] revealed that the NSA, in collaboration with Britain’s SIGINT intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), had routinely intercepted the international communications of prominent anti-Vietnam war leaders such as Jane Fonda and Dr. Benjamin Spock.[34] Following the resignation of President Richard Nixon, there were several investigations of suspected misuse of FBI, CIA and NSA facilities.[35] Senator Frank Church uncovered previously unknown activity,[35] such as a CIA plot (ordered by the administration of President John F. Kennedy) to assassinate Fidel Castro.[36] The investigation also uncovered NSA’s wiretaps on targeted U.S. citizens.[37]

After the Church Committee hearings, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 was passed into law. This was designed to limit the practice of mass surveillance in the United States.[35]

In 1986, the NSA intercepted the communications of the Libyan government during the immediate aftermath of the Berlin discotheque bombing. The White House asserted that the NSA interception had provided “irrefutable” evidence that Libya was behind the bombing, which U.S. President Ronald Reagan cited as a justification for the 1986 United States bombing of Libya.[38][39]

In 1999, a multi-year investigation by the European Parliament highlighted the NSA’s role in economic espionage in a report entitled ‘Development of Surveillance Technology and Risk of Abuse of Economic Information’.[40] That year, the NSA founded the NSA Hall of Honor, a memorial at the National Cryptologic Museum in Fort Meade, Maryland.[41] The memorial is a, “tribute to the pioneers and heroes who have made significant and long-lasting contributions to American cryptology”.[41] NSA employees must be retired for more than fifteen years to qualify for the memorial.[41]

NSA’s infrastructure deteriorated in the 1990s as defense budget cuts resulted in maintenance deferrals. On January 24, 2000, NSA headquarters suffered a total network outage for three days caused by an overloaded network. Incoming traffic was successfully stored on agency servers, but it could not be directed and processed. The agency carried out emergency repairs at a cost of $3 million to get the system running again. (Some incoming traffic was also directed instead to Britain’s GCHQ for the time being.) Director Michael Hayden called the outage a “wake-up call” for the need to invest in the agency’s infrastructure.[42]

In the 1990s the defensive arm of the NSA the Information Assurance Directorate (IAD) started working more openly; the first public technical talk by an NSA scientist at a major cryptography conference was J. Solinas’ presentation on efficient Elliptic Curve Cryptography algorithms at Crypto 1997.[43] The IAD’s cooperative approach to academia and industry culminated in its support for a transparent process for replacing the outdated Data Encryption Standard (DES) by an Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). Cybersecurity policy expert Susan Landau attributes the NSA’s harmonious collaboration with industry and academia in the selection of the AES in 2000 and the Agency’s support for the choice of a strong encryption algorithm designed by Europeans rather than by Americans to Brian Snow, who was the Technical Director of IAD and represented the NSA as cochairman of the Technical Working Group for the AES competition, and Michael Jacobs, who headed IAD at the time.[44]:75

After the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, the NSA believed that it had public support for a dramatic expansion of its surveillance activities.[45] According to Neal Koblitz and Alfred Menezes, the period when the NSA was a trusted partner with academia and industry in the development of cryptographic standards started to come to an end when, as part of the change in the NSA in the post-September 11 era, Snow was replaced as Technical Director, Jacobs retired, and IAD could no longer effectively oppose proposed actions by the offensive arm of the NSA.[46]

In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the NSA created new IT systems to deal with the flood of information from new technologies like the Internet and cellphones. ThinThread contained advanced data mining capabilities. It also had a “privacy mechanism”; surveillance was stored encrypted; decryption required a warrant. The research done under this program may have contributed to the technology used in later systems. ThinThread was cancelled when Michael Hayden chose Trailblazer, which did not include ThinThread’s privacy system.[47]

Trailblazer Project ramped up in 2002 and was worked on by Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), Boeing, Computer Sciences Corporation, IBM, and Litton Industries. Some NSA whistleblowers complained internally about major problems surrounding Trailblazer. This led to investigations by Congress and the NSA and DoD Inspectors General. The project was cancelled in early 2004.

Turbulence started in 2005. It was developed in small, inexpensive “test” pieces, rather than one grand plan like Trailblazer. It also included offensive cyber-warfare capabilities, like injecting malware into remote computers. Congress criticized Turbulence in 2007 for having similar bureaucratic problems as Trailblazer.[48] It was to be a realization of information processing at higher speeds in cyberspace.[49]

The massive extent of the NSA’s spying, both foreign and domestic, was revealed to the public in a series of detailed disclosures of internal NSA documents beginning in June 2013. Most of the disclosures were leaked by former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden.

NSA’s eavesdropping mission includes radio broadcasting, both from various organizations and individuals, the Internet, telephone calls, and other intercepted forms of communication. Its secure communications mission includes military, diplomatic, and all other sensitive, confidential or secret government communications.[50]

According to a 2010 article in The Washington Post, “[e]very day, collection systems at the National Security Agency intercept and store 1.7billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications. The NSA sorts a fraction of those into 70 separate databases.”[51]

Because of its listening task, NSA/CSS has been heavily involved in cryptanalytic research, continuing the work of predecessor agencies which had broken many World War II codes and ciphers (see, for instance, Purple, Venona project, and JN-25).

In 2004, NSA Central Security Service and the National Cyber Security Division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agreed to expand NSA Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education Program.[52]

As part of the National Security Presidential Directive 54/Homeland Security Presidential Directive 23 (NSPD 54), signed on January 8, 2008, by President Bush, the NSA became the lead agency to monitor and protect all of the federal government’s computer networks from cyber-terrorism.[9]

In the United States, at least since 2001,[53] there has been legal controversy over what signal intelligence can be used for and how much freedom the National Security Agency has to use signal intelligence.[54] The government has made, in 2015, slight changes in how it uses and collects certain types of data,[55] specifically phone records.

On December 16, 2005, The New York Times reported that, under White House pressure and with an executive order from President George W. Bush, the National Security Agency, in an attempt to thwart terrorism, had been tapping phone calls made to persons outside the country, without obtaining warrants from the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a secret court created for that purpose under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).[56]

One such surveillance program, authorized by the U.S. Signals Intelligence Directive 18 of President George Bush, was the Highlander Project undertaken for the National Security Agency by the U.S. Army 513th Military Intelligence Brigade. NSA relayed telephone (including cell phone) conversations obtained from ground, airborne, and satellite monitoring stations to various U.S. Army Signal Intelligence Officers, including the 201st Military Intelligence Battalion. Conversations of citizens of the U.S. were intercepted, along with those of other nations.[57]

Proponents of the surveillance program claim that the President has executive authority to order such action, arguing that laws such as FISA are overridden by the President’s Constitutional powers. In addition, some argued that FISA was implicitly overridden by a subsequent statute, the Authorization for Use of Military Force, although the Supreme Court’s ruling in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld deprecates this view. In the August 2006 case ACLU v. NSA, U.S. District Court Judge Anna Diggs Taylor concluded that NSA’s warrantless surveillance program was both illegal and unconstitutional. On July 6, 2007, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the decision on the grounds that the ACLU lacked standing to bring the suit.[58]

On January 17, 2006, the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a lawsuit, CCR v. Bush, against the George W. Bush Presidency. The lawsuit challenged the National Security Agency’s (NSA’s) surveillance of people within the U.S., including the interception of CCR emails without securing a warrant first.[59][60]

In September 2008, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a class action lawsuit against the NSA and several high-ranking officials of the Bush administration,[61] charging an “illegal and unconstitutional program of dragnet communications surveillance,”[62] based on documentation provided by former AT&T technician Mark Klein.[63]

As a result of the USA Freedom Act passed by Congress in June 2015, the NSA had to shut down its bulk phone surveillance program on November 29 of the same year. The USA Freedom Act forbids the NSA to collect metadata and content of phone calls unless it has a warrant for terrorism investigation. In that case the agency has to ask the telecom companies for the record, which will only be kept for six months.

In May 2008, Mark Klein, a former AT&T employee, alleged that his company had cooperated with NSA in installing Narus hardware to replace the FBI Carnivore program, to monitor network communications including traffic between U.S. citizens.[64]

NSA was reported in 2008 to use its computing capability to analyze “transactional” data that it regularly acquires from other government agencies, which gather it under their own jurisdictional authorities. As part of this effort, NSA now monitors huge volumes of records of domestic email data, web addresses from Internet searches, bank transfers, credit-card transactions, travel records, and telephone data, according to current and former intelligence officials interviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The sender, recipient, and subject line of emails can be included, but the content of the messages or of phone calls are not.[65]

A 2013 advisory group for the Obama administration, seeking to reform NSA spying programs following the revelations of documents released by Edward J. Snowden.[66] mentioned in ‘Recommendation 30’ on page 37, “…that the National Security Council staff should manage an interagency process to review on a regular basis the activities of the US Government regarding attacks that exploit a previously unknown vulnerability in a computer application.” Retired cyber security expert Richard A. Clarke was a group member and stated on April 11 that NSA had no advance knowledge of Heartbleed.[67]

In August 2013 it was revealed that a 2005 IRS training document showed that NSA intelligence intercepts and wiretaps, both foreign and domestic, were being supplied to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and were illegally used to launch criminal investigations of US citizens. Law enforcement agents were directed to conceal how the investigations began and recreate an apparently legal investigative trail by re-obtaining the same evidence by other means.[68][69]

In the months leading to April 2009, the NSA intercepted the communications of U.S. citizens, including a Congressman, although the Justice Department believed that the interception was unintentional. The Justice Department then took action to correct the issues and bring the program into compliance with existing laws.[70] United States Attorney General Eric Holder resumed the program according to his understanding of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act amendment of 2008, without explaining what had occurred.[71]

Polls conducted in June 2013 found divided results among Americans regarding NSA’s secret data collection.[72] Rasmussen Reports found that 59% of Americans disapprove,[73] Gallup found that 53% disapprove,[74] and Pew found that 56% are in favor of NSA data collection.[75]

On April 25, 2013, the NSA obtained a court order requiring Verizon’s Business Network Services to provide metadata on all calls in its system to the NSA “on an ongoing daily basis” for a three-month period, as reported by The Guardian on June 6, 2013. This information includes “the numbers of both parties on a call… location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls” but not “[t]he contents of the conversation itself”. The order relies on the so-called “business records” provision of the Patriot Act.[76][77]

In August 2013, following the Snowden leaks, new details about the NSA’s data mining activity were revealed. Reportedly, the majority of emails into or out of the United States are captured at “selected communications links” and automatically analyzed for keywords or other “selectors”. Emails that do not match are deleted.[78]

The utility of such a massive metadata collection in preventing terrorist attacks is disputed. Many studies reveal the dragnet like system to be ineffective. One such report, released by the New America Foundation concluded that after an analysis of 225 terrorism cases, the NSA “had no discernible impact on preventing acts of terrorism.”[79]

Defenders of the program said that while metadata alone can’t provide all the information necessary to prevent an attack, it assures the ability to “connect the dots”[80] between suspect foreign numbers and domestic numbers with a speed only the NSA’s software is capable of. One benefit of this is quickly being able to determine the difference between suspicious activity and real threats.[citation needed] As an example, NSA director General Keith B. Alexander mentioned at the annual Cybersecurity Summit in 2013, that metadata analysis of domestic phone call records after the Boston Marathon bombing helped determine that rumors of a follow-up attack in New York were baseless.[80]

In addition to doubts about its effectiveness, many people argue that the collection of metadata is an unconstitutional invasion of privacy. As of 2015[update], the collection process remains legal and grounded in the ruling from Smith v. Maryland (1979). A prominent opponent of the data collection and its legality is U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon, who issued a report in 2013[81] in which he stated: “I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval…Surely, such a program infringes on ‘that degree of privacy’ that the founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment”.

As of May 7, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that the interpretation of Section 215 of the Patriot Act was wrong and that the NSA program that has been collecting Americans’ phone records in bulk is illegal.[82] It stated that Section 215 cannot be clearly interpreted to allow government to collect national phone data and, as a result, expired on June 1, 2015. This ruling “is the first time a higher-level court in the regular judicial system has reviewed the N.S.A. phone records program.”[83] The replacement law known as the USA Freedom Act, which will enable the NSA to continue to have bulk access to citizens’ metadata but with the stipulation that the data will now be stored by the companies themselves.[83] This change will not have any effect on other Agency procedures – outside of metadata collection – which have purportedly challenged Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights;,[84] including Upstream collection, a mass of techniques used by the Agency to collect and store American’s data/communications directly from the Internet backbone.[85]

Under the Upstream program, the NSA paid telecommunications companies between 9 and 95 million dollars in order to collect data from them.[86] While companies such as Google and Yahoo! claim that they do not provide “direct access” from their servers to the NSA unless under a court order,[87] the NSA had access to emails, phone calls and cellular data users.[88] Under this new ruling, telecommunications companies maintain bulk user metadata on their servers for at least 18 months, to be provided upon request to the NSA.[83] This ruling made the mass storage of specific phone records at NSA datacenters illegal, but it did not rule on Section 215’s constitutionality.[83]

In a declassified document it was revealed that 17,835 phone lines were on an improperly permitted “alert list” from 2006 to 2009 in breach of compliance, which tagged these phone lines for daily monitoring.[89][90][91] Eleven percent of these monitored phone lines met the agency’s legal standard for “reasonably articulable suspicion” (RAS).[89][92] The NSA tracks the locations of hundreds of millions of cellphones per day, allowing it to map people’s movements and relationships in detail.[93] The NSA has been reported to have access to all communications made via Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, YouTube, AOL, Skype, Apple and Paltalk,[94] and collects hundreds of millions of contact lists from personal email and instant messaging accounts each year.[95] It has also managed to weaken much of the encryption used on the Internet (by collaborating with, coercing or otherwise infiltrating numerous technology companies to leave “backdoors” into their systems), so that the majority of encryption is inadvertently vulnerable to different forms of attack.[96][97]

Domestically, the NSA has been proven to collect and store metadata records of phone calls,[98] including over 120 million US Verizon subscribers,[99] as well as intercept vast amounts of communications via the internet (Upstream).[94] The government’s legal standing had been to rely on a secret interpretation of the Patriot Act whereby the entirety of US communications may be considered “relevant” to a terrorism investigation if it is expected that even a tiny minority may relate to terrorism.[100] The NSA also supplies foreign intercepts to the DEA, IRS and other law enforcement agencies, who use these to initiate criminal investigations. Federal agents are then instructed to “recreate” the investigative trail via parallel construction.[101]

The NSA also spies on influential Muslims to obtain information that could be used to discredit them, such as their use of pornography. The targets, both domestic and abroad, are not suspected of any crime but hold religious or political views deemed “radical” by the NSA.[102]

According to a report in The Washington Post in July 2014, relying on information provided by Snowden, 90% of those placed under surveillance in the U.S. are ordinary Americans, and are not the intended targets. The newspaper said it had examined documents including emails, text messages, and online accounts that support the claim.[103]

Despite White House claims that these programs have congressional oversight, many members of Congress were unaware of the existence of these NSA programs or the secret interpretation of the Patriot Act, and have consistently been denied access to basic information about them.[104] The United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the secret court charged with regulating the NSA’s activities is, according to its chief judge, incapable of investigating or verifying how often the NSA breaks even its own secret rules.[105] It has since been reported that the NSA violated its own rules on data access thousands of times a year, many of these violations involving large-scale data interceptions.[106] NSA officers have even used data intercepts to spy on love interests;[107] “most of the NSA violations were self-reported, and each instance resulted in administrative action of termination.”[108]

The NSA has “generally disregarded the special rules for disseminating United States person information” by illegally sharing its intercepts with other law enforcement agencies.[109] A March 2009 FISA Court opinion, which the court released, states that protocols restricting data queries had been “so frequently and systemically violated that it can be fairly said that this critical element of the overall … regime has never functioned effectively.”[110][111] In 2011 the same court noted that the “volume and nature” of the NSA’s bulk foreign Internet intercepts was “fundamentally different from what the court had been led to believe”.[109] Email contact lists (including those of US citizens) are collected at numerous foreign locations to work around the illegality of doing so on US soil.[95]

Legal opinions on the NSA’s bulk collection program have differed. In mid-December 2013, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ruled that the “almost-Orwellian” program likely violates the Constitution, and wrote, “I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval. Surely, such a program infringes on ‘that degree of privacy’ that the Founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment. Indeed, I have little doubt that the author of our Constitution, James Madison, who cautioned us to beware ‘the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power,’ would be aghast.”[112]

Later that month, U.S. District Judge William Pauley ruled that the NSA’s collection of telephone records is legal and valuable in the fight against terrorism. In his opinion, he wrote, “a bulk telephony metadata collection program [is] a wide net that could find and isolate gossamer contacts among suspected terrorists in an ocean of seemingly disconnected data” and noted that a similar collection of data prior to 9/11 might have prevented the attack.[113]

At a March 2013 Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, Senator Ron Wyden asked Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, “does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” Clapper replied “No, sir. … Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect, but not wittingly.”[114] This statement came under scrutiny months later, in June 2013, details of the PRISM surveillance program were published, showing that “the NSA apparently can gain access to the servers of nine Internet companies for a wide range of digital data.”[114] Wyden said that Clapper had failed to give a “straight answer” in his testimony. Clapper, in response to criticism, said, “I responded in what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful manner.” Clapper added, “There are honest differences on the semantics of what — when someone says collection to me, that has a specific meaning, which may have a different meaning to him.”[114]

NSA whistler-blower Edward Snowden additionally revealed the existence of XKeyscore, a top secret NSA program that allows the agency to search vast databases of “the metadata as well as the content of emails and other internet activity, such as browser history,” with capability to search by “name, telephone number, IP address, keywords, the language in which the internet activity was conducted or the type of browser used.”[115] XKeyscore “provides the technological capability, if not the legal authority, to target even US persons for extensive electronic surveillance without a warrant provided that some identifying information, such as their email or IP address, is known to the analyst.”[115]

Regarding the necessity of these NSA programs, Alexander stated on June 27 that the NSA’s bulk phone and Internet intercepts had been instrumental in preventing 54 terrorist “events”, including 13 in the US, and in all but one of these cases had provided the initial tip to “unravel the threat stream”.[116] On July 31 NSA Deputy Director John Inglis conceded to the Senate that these intercepts had not been vital in stopping any terrorist attacks, but were “close” to vital in identifying and convicting four San Diego men for sending US$8,930 to Al-Shabaab, a militia that conducts terrorism in Somalia.[117][118][119]

The U.S. government has aggressively sought to dismiss and challenge Fourth Amendment cases raised against it, and has granted retroactive immunity to ISPs and telecoms participating in domestic surveillance.[120][121] The U.S. military has acknowledged blocking access to parts of The Guardian website for thousands of defense personnel across the country,[122][123] and blocking the entire Guardian website for personnel stationed throughout Afghanistan, the Middle East, and South Asia.[124]

An October 2014 United Nations report condemned mass surveillance by the United States and other countries as violating multiple international treaties and conventions that guarantee core privacy rights.[125]

In 2015, the Wikimedia Foundation and several other plaintiffs filed suit against the NSA, Wikimedia Foundation v. NSA, for the violation of their user’s First and Fourth Amendment rights by the Agency’s mass surveillance programs like Upstream.[126] The suit was initially dismissed, but was later found to have plausible and legal standing to its complaints by the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and was remanded. The case is currently awaiting further proceedings at the United States District Court for the District of Maryland.[127]

An exploit, EternalBlue, which is believed to have been created by the NSA, was used in the unprecedented worldwide WannaCry ransomware attack in May 2017. The exploit had been leaked online by a hacking group, The Shadow Brokers, nearly a month prior to the attack. A number of experts have pointed the finger at the NSA’s non-disclosure of the underlying vulnerability, and their loss of control over the EternalBlue attack tool that exploited it. Edward Snowden said that if the NSA had “privately disclosed the flaw used to attack hospitals when they found it, not when they lost it, [the attack] might not have happened”.[128] Wikipedia co-founder, Jimmy Wales, stated that he joined “with Microsoft and the other leaders of the industry in saying this is a huge screw-up by the government … the moment the NSA found it, they should have notified Microsoft so they could quietly issue a patch and really chivvy people along, long before it became a huge problem.”[129]

Operations by the National Security Agency can be divided in three types:

“Echelon” was created in the incubator of the Cold War.[130] Today it is a legacy system, and several NSA stations are closing.[131]

NSA/CSS, in combination with the equivalent agencies in the United Kingdom (Government Communications Headquarters), Canada (Communications Security Establishment), Australia (Defence Signals Directorate), and New Zealand (Government Communications Security Bureau), otherwise known as the UKUSA group,[132] was reported to be in command of the operation of the so-called ECHELON system. Its capabilities were suspected to include the ability to monitor a large proportion of the world’s transmitted civilian telephone, fax and data traffic.[133]

During the early 1970s, the first of what became more than eight large satellite communications dishes were installed at Menwith Hill.[134] Investigative journalist Duncan Campbell reported in 1988 on the “ECHELON” surveillance program, an extension of the UKUSA Agreement on global signals intelligence SIGINT, and detailed how the eavesdropping operations worked.[135] On November 3, 1999 the BBC reported that they had confirmation from the Australian Government of the existence of a powerful “global spying network” code-named Echelon, that could “eavesdrop on every single phone call, fax or e-mail, anywhere on the planet” with Britain and the United States as the chief protagonists. They confirmed that Menwith Hill was “linked directly to the headquarters of the US National Security Agency (NSA) at Fort Meade in Maryland”.[136]

NSA’s United States Signals Intelligence Directive 18 (USSID 18) strictly prohibited the interception or collection of information about “… U.S. persons, entities, corporations or organizations….” without explicit written legal permission from the United States Attorney General when the subject is located abroad, or the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court when within U.S. borders. Alleged Echelon-related activities, including its use for motives other than national security, including political and industrial espionage, received criticism from countries outside the UKUSA alliance.[137][138]

The NSA was also involved in planning to blackmail people with “SEXINT”, intelligence gained about a potential target’s sexual activity and preferences. Those targeted had not committed any apparent crime nor were they charged with one.[139]

In order to support its facial recognition program, the NSA is intercepting “millions of images per day”.[140]

The Real Time Regional Gateway is a data collection program introduced in 2005 in Iraq by NSA during the Iraq War that consisted of gathering all electronic communication, storing it, then searching and otherwise analyzing it. It was effective in providing information about Iraqi insurgents who had eluded less comprehensive techniques.[141] This “collect it all” strategy introduced by NSA director, Keith B. Alexander, is believed by Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian to be the model for the comprehensive worldwide mass archiving of communications which NSA is engaged in as of 2013.[142]

A dedicated unit of the NSA locates targets for the CIA for extrajudicial assassination in the Middle East.[143] The NSA has also spied extensively on the European Union, the United Nations and numerous governments including allies and trading partners in Europe, South America and Asia.[144][145]

In June 2015, WikiLeaks published documents showing that NSA spied on French companies.[146]

In July 2015, WikiLeaks published documents showing that NSA spied on federal German ministries since the 1990s.[147][148] Even Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphones and phone of her predecessors had been intercepted.[149]

Edward Snowden revealed in June 2013 that between February 8 and March 8, 2013, the NSA collected about 124.8billion telephone data items and 97.1billion computer data items throughout the world, as was displayed in charts from an internal NSA tool codenamed Boundless Informant. Initially, it was reported that some of these data reflected eavesdropping on citizens in countries like Germany, Spain and France,[150] but later on, it became clear that those data were collected by European agencies during military missions abroad and were subsequently shared with NSA.

In 2013, reporters uncovered a secret memo that claims the NSA created and pushed for the adoption of the Dual EC DRBG encryption standard that contained built-in vulnerabilities in 2006 to the United States National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the International Organization for Standardization (aka ISO).[151][152] This memo appears to give credence to previous speculation by cryptographers at Microsoft Research.[153] Edward Snowden claims that the NSA often bypasses encryption altogether by lifting information before it is encrypted or after it is decrypted.[152]

XKeyscore rules (as specified in a file xkeyscorerules100.txt, sourced by German TV stations NDR and WDR, who claim to have excerpts from its source code) reveal that the NSA tracks users of privacy-enhancing software tools, including Tor; an anonymous email service provided by the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) in Cambridge, Massachusetts; and readers of the Linux Journal.[154][155]

Linus Torvalds, the founder of Linux kernel, joked during a LinuxCon keynote on September 18, 2013, that the NSA, who are the founder of SELinux, wanted a backdoor in the kernel.[156] However, later, Linus’ father, a Member of the European Parliament (MEP), revealed that the NSA actually did this.[157]

When my oldest son was asked the same question: “Has he been approached by the NSA about backdoors?” he said “No”, but at the same time he nodded. Then he was sort of in the legal free. He had given the right answer, everybody understood that the NSA had approached him.

IBM Notes was the first widely adopted software product to use public key cryptography for clientserver and serverserver authentication and for encryption of data. Until US laws regulating encryption were changed in 2000, IBM and Lotus were prohibited from exporting versions of Notes that supported symmetric encryption keys that were longer than 40 bits. In 1997, Lotus negotiated an agreement with the NSA that allowed export of a version that supported stronger keys with 64 bits, but 24 of the bits were encrypted with a special key and included in the message to provide a “workload reduction factor” for the NSA. This strengthened the protection for users of Notes outside the US against private-sector industrial espionage, but not against spying by the US government.[159][160]

While it is assumed that foreign transmissions terminating in the U.S. (such as a non-U.S. citizen accessing a U.S. website) subject non-U.S. citizens to NSA surveillance, recent research into boomerang routing has raised new concerns about the NSA’s ability to surveil the domestic Internet traffic of foreign countries.[18] Boomerang routing occurs when an Internet transmission that originates and terminates in a single country transits another. Research at the University of Toronto has suggested that approximately 25% of Canadian domestic traffic may be subject to NSA surveillance activities as a result of the boomerang routing of Canadian Internet service providers.[18]

Intercepted packages are opened carefully by NSA employees

A “load station” implanting a beacon

A document included in NSA files released with Glenn Greenwald’s book No Place to Hide details how the agency’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) and other NSA units gain access to hardware. They intercept routers, servers and other network hardware being shipped to organizations targeted for surveillance and install covert implant firmware onto them before they are delivered. This was described by an NSA manager as “some of the most productive operations in TAO because they preposition access points into hard target networks around the world.”[161]

Computers seized by the NSA due to interdiction are often modified with a physical device known as Cottonmouth.[162] Cottonmouth is a device that can be inserted in the USB port of a computer in order to establish remote access to the targeted machine. According to NSA’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) group implant catalog, after implanting Cottonmouth, the NSA can establish Bridging (networking) “that allows the NSA to load exploit software onto modified computers as well as allowing the NSA to relay commands and data between hardware and software implants.”[163]

NSA’s mission, as set forth in Executive Order 12333 in 1981, is to collect information that constitutes “foreign intelligence or counterintelligence” while not “acquiring information concerning the domestic activities of United States persons”. NSA has declared that it relies on the FBI to collect information on foreign intelligence activities within the borders of the United States, while confining its own activities within the United States to the embassies and missions of foreign nations.[164] The appearance of a ‘Domestic Surveillance Directorate’ of the NSA was soon exposed as a hoax in 2013.[165][166]

NSA’s domestic surveillance activities are limited by the requirements imposed by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for example held in October 2011, citing multiple Supreme Court precedents, that the Fourth Amendment prohibitions against unreasonable searches and seizures applies to the contents of all communications, whatever the means, because “a person’s private communications are akin to personal papers.”[167] However, these protections do not apply to non-U.S. persons located outside of U.S. borders, so the NSA’s foreign surveillance efforts are subject to far fewer limitations under U.S. law.[168] The specific requirements for domestic surveillance operations are contained in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA), which does not extend protection to non-U.S. citizens located outside of U.S. territory.[168]

George W. Bush, president during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, approved the Patriot Act shortly after the attacks to take anti-terrorist security measures. Title 1, 2, and 9 specifically authorized measures that would be taken by the NSA. These titles granted enhanced domestic security against terrorism, surveillance procedures, and improved intelligence, respectively. On March 10, 2004, there was a debate between President Bush and White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, Attorney General John Ashcroft, and Acting Attorney General James Comey. The Attorneys General were unsure if the NSA’s programs could be considered constitutional. They threatened to resign over the matter, but ultimately the NSA’s programs continued.[169] On March 11, 2004, President Bush signed a new authorization for mass surveillance of Internet records, in addition to the surveillance of phone records. This allowed the president to be able to override laws such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which protected civilians from mass surveillance. In addition to this, President Bush also signed that the measures of mass surveillance were also retroactively in place.[170]

Under the PRISM program, which started in 2007,[171][172] NSA gathers Internet communications from foreign targets from nine major U.S. Internet-based communication service providers: Microsoft,[173] Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple. Data gathered include email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, VoIP chats such as Skype, and file transfers.

Former NSA director General Keith Alexander claimed that in September 2009 the NSA prevented Najibullah Zazi and his friends from carrying out a terrorist attack.[174] However, this claim has been debunked and no evidence has been presented demonstrating that the NSA has ever been instrumental in preventing a terrorist attack.[175][176][177][178]

Besides the more traditional ways of eavesdropping in order to collect signals intelligence, NSA is also engaged in hacking computers, smartphones and their networks. These operations are conducted by the Tailored Access Operations (TAO) division, which has been active since at least circa 1998.[179]

According to the Foreign Policy magazine, “… the Office of Tailored Access Operations, or TAO, has successfully penetrated Chinese computer and telecommunications systems for almost 15 years, generating some of the best and most reliable intelligence information about what is going on inside the People’s Republic of China.”[180][181]

In an interview with Wired magazine, Edward Snowden said the Tailored Access Operations division accidentally caused Syria’s internet blackout in 2012.[182]

The NSA is led by the Director of the National Security Agency (DIRNSA), who also serves as Chief of the Central Security Service (CHCSS) and Commander of the United States Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) and is the highest-ranking military official of these organizations. He is assisted by a Deputy Director, who is the highest-ranking civilian within the NSA/CSS.

NSA also has an Inspector General, head of the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), a General Counsel, head of the Office of the General Counsel (OGC) and a Director of Compliance, who is head of the Office of the Director of Compliance (ODOC).[183]

Unlike other intelligence organizations such as CIA or DIA, NSA has always been particularly reticent concerning its internal organizational structure.

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National Security Agency – Wikipedia

Posted in NSA

Urban Dictionary: NSA

A shared abbreviation that can mean one of many things (the most common): No Strings Attached & National Security Agency.

No Strings Attached is a common English Adverb / expression that refers to no other obligations or responsibilities in a deal. The abrev. NSA has become connected to the casual sex terminology as someone wishing to engage in sexual activities while being free of all responsibilities associated with a romantic relationship.

Many people believe the National Security Agency operates much like the CIA, however, the NSA is a division of the US Defense Department and specializes on the protection of all US Government Communication & Information Systems. The NSA is limited to information surveillance (national and international only) and does not engage in human intelligence activities.

Other such abbreviations: National Shipping Authority, National Standards Association, National Student Association, National Scrabble Association, Niagara Soccer Association, National Scrabble Association, etc. etc.

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Urban Dictionary: NSA

Posted in NSA

National Security Agency – Wikipedia

National Security Agency

Seal of the National Security Agency

Flag of the National Security Agency

The National Security Agency (NSA) is a national-level intelligence agency of the United States Department of Defense, under the authority of the Director of National Intelligence. The NSA is responsible for global monitoring, collection, and processing of information and data for foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes, specializing in a discipline known as signals intelligence (SIGINT). The NSA is also tasked with the protection of U.S. communications networks and information systems.[8][9] The NSA relies on a variety of measures to accomplish its mission, the majority of which are clandestine.[10]

Originating as a unit to decipher coded communications in World War II, it was officially formed as the NSA by President Harry S. Truman in 1952. Since then, it has become one of the largest U.S. intelligence organizations in terms of personnel and budget.[6][11] The NSA currently conducts worldwide mass data collection and has been known to physically bug electronic systems as one method to this end.[12] The NSA has also been alleged to have been behind such attack software as Stuxnet, which severely damaged Iran’s nuclear program.[13][14] The NSA, alongside the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), maintains a physical presence in many countries across the globe; the CIA/NSA joint Special Collection Service (a highly classified intelligence team) inserts eavesdropping devices in high value targets (such as Presidential palaces or embassies). SCS collection tactics allegedly encompass “close surveillance, burglary, wiretapping, [and] breaking and entering”.[15][16]

Unlike the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), both of which specialize primarily in foreign human espionage, the NSA does not publicly conduct human-source intelligence gathering. The NSA is entrusted with providing assistance to, and the coordination of, SIGINT elements for other government organizations – which are prevented by law from engaging in such activities on their own.[17] As part of these responsibilities, the agency has a co-located organization called the Central Security Service (CSS), which facilitates cooperation between the NSA and other U.S. defense cryptanalysis components. To further ensure streamlined communication between the signals intelligence community divisions, the NSA Director simultaneously serves as the Commander of the United States Cyber Command and as Chief of the Central Security Service.

The NSA’s actions have been a matter of political controversy on several occasions, including its spying on anti-Vietnam-war leaders and the agency’s participation in economic espionage. In 2013, the NSA had many of its secret surveillance programs revealed to the public by Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor. According to the leaked documents, the NSA intercepts and stores the communications of over a billion people worldwide, including United States citizens. The documents also revealed the NSA tracks hundreds of millions of people’s movements using cellphones metadata. Internationally, research has pointed to the NSA’s ability to surveil the domestic Internet traffic of foreign countries through “boomerang routing”.[18]

The origins of the National Security Agency can be traced back to April 28, 1917, three weeks after the U.S. Congress declared war on Germany in World War I. A code and cipher decryption unit was established as the Cable and Telegraph Section which was also known as the Cipher Bureau.[19] It was headquartered in Washington, D.C. and was part of the war effort under the executive branch without direct Congressional authorization. During the course of the war it was relocated in the army’s organizational chart several times. On July 5, 1917, Herbert O. Yardley was assigned to head the unit. At that point, the unit consisted of Yardley and two civilian clerks. It absorbed the navy’s Cryptanalysis functions in July 1918. World War I ended on November 11, 1918, and the army cryptographic section of Military Intelligence (MI-8) moved to New York City on May 20, 1919, where it continued intelligence activities as the Code Compilation Company under the direction of Yardley.[20][21]

After the disbandment of the U.S. Army cryptographic section of military intelligence, known as MI-8, in 1919, the U.S. government created the Cipher Bureau, also known as Black Chamber. The Black Chamber was the United States’ first peacetime cryptanalytic organization.[22] Jointly funded by the Army and the State Department, the Cipher Bureau was disguised as a New York City commercial code company; it actually produced and sold such codes for business use. Its true mission, however, was to break the communications (chiefly diplomatic) of other nations. Its most notable known success was at the Washington Naval Conference, during which it aided American negotiators considerably by providing them with the decrypted traffic of many of the conference delegations, most notably the Japanese. The Black Chamber successfully persuaded Western Union, the largest U.S. telegram company at the time, as well as several other communications companies to illegally give the Black Chamber access to cable traffic of foreign embassies and consulates.[23] Soon, these companies publicly discontinued their collaboration.

Despite the Chamber’s initial successes, it was shut down in 1929 by U.S. Secretary of State Henry L. Stimson, who defended his decision by stating, “Gentlemen do not read each other’s mail”.[24]

During World War II, the Signal Intelligence Service (SIS) was created to intercept and decipher the communications of the Axis powers.[25] When the war ended, the SIS was reorganized as the Army Security Agency (ASA), and it was placed under the leadership of the Director of Military Intelligence.[25]

On May 20, 1949, all cryptologic activities were centralized under a national organization called the Armed Forces Security Agency (AFSA).[25] This organization was originally established within the U.S. Department of Defense under the command of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.[26] The AFSA was tasked to direct Department of Defense communications and electronic intelligence activities, except those of U.S. military intelligence units.[26] However, the AFSA was unable to centralize communications intelligence and failed to coordinate with civilian agencies that shared its interests such as the Department of State, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).[26] In December 1951, President Harry S. Truman ordered a panel to investigate how AFSA had failed to achieve its goals. The results of the investigation led to improvements and its redesignation as the National Security Agency.[27]

The agency was formally established by Truman in a memorandum of October 24, 1952, that revised National Security Council Intelligence Directive (NSCID) 9.[28] Since President Truman’s memo was a classified document,[28] the existence of the NSA was not known to the public at that time. Due to its ultra-secrecy the U.S. intelligence community referred to the NSA as “No Such Agency”.[29]

In the 1960s, the NSA played a key role in expanding U.S. commitment to the Vietnam War by providing evidence of a North Vietnamese attack on the American destroyer USSMaddox during the Gulf of Tonkin incident.[30]

A secret operation, code-named “MINARET”, was set up by the NSA to monitor the phone communications of Senators Frank Church and Howard Baker, as well as major civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King, Jr., and prominent U.S. journalists and athletes who criticized the Vietnam War.[31] However, the project turned out to be controversial, and an internal review by the NSA concluded that its Minaret program was “disreputable if not outright illegal”.[31]

The NSA mounted a major effort to secure tactical communications among U.S. forces during the war with mixed success. The NESTOR family of compatible secure voice systems it developed was widely deployed during the Vietnam War, with about 30,000 NESTOR sets produced. However a variety of technical and operational problems limited their use, allowing the North Vietnamese to exploit and intercept U.S. communications.[32] :Vol I, p.79

In the aftermath of the Watergate scandal, a congressional hearing in 1975 led by Sen. Frank Church[33] revealed that the NSA, in collaboration with Britain’s SIGINT intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), had routinely intercepted the international communications of prominent anti-Vietnam war leaders such as Jane Fonda and Dr. Benjamin Spock.[34] Following the resignation of President Richard Nixon, there were several investigations of suspected misuse of FBI, CIA and NSA facilities.[35] Senator Frank Church uncovered previously unknown activity,[35] such as a CIA plot (ordered by the administration of President John F. Kennedy) to assassinate Fidel Castro.[36] The investigation also uncovered NSA’s wiretaps on targeted U.S. citizens.[37]

After the Church Committee hearings, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 was passed into law. This was designed to limit the practice of mass surveillance in the United States.[35]

In 1986, the NSA intercepted the communications of the Libyan government during the immediate aftermath of the Berlin discotheque bombing. The White House asserted that the NSA interception had provided “irrefutable” evidence that Libya was behind the bombing, which U.S. President Ronald Reagan cited as a justification for the 1986 United States bombing of Libya.[38][39]

In 1999, a multi-year investigation by the European Parliament highlighted the NSA’s role in economic espionage in a report entitled ‘Development of Surveillance Technology and Risk of Abuse of Economic Information’.[40] That year, the NSA founded the NSA Hall of Honor, a memorial at the National Cryptologic Museum in Fort Meade, Maryland.[41] The memorial is a, “tribute to the pioneers and heroes who have made significant and long-lasting contributions to American cryptology”.[41] NSA employees must be retired for more than fifteen years to qualify for the memorial.[41]

NSA’s infrastructure deteriorated in the 1990s as defense budget cuts resulted in maintenance deferrals. On January 24, 2000, NSA headquarters suffered a total network outage for three days caused by an overloaded network. Incoming traffic was successfully stored on agency servers, but it could not be directed and processed. The agency carried out emergency repairs at a cost of $3 million to get the system running again. (Some incoming traffic was also directed instead to Britain’s GCHQ for the time being.) Director Michael Hayden called the outage a “wake-up call” for the need to invest in the agency’s infrastructure.[42]

In the 1990s the defensive arm of the NSA the Information Assurance Directorate (IAD) started working more openly; the first public technical talk by an NSA scientist at a major cryptography conference was J. Solinas’ presentation on efficient Elliptic Curve Cryptography algorithms at Crypto 1997.[43] The IAD’s cooperative approach to academia and industry culminated in its support for a transparent process for replacing the outdated Data Encryption Standard (DES) by an Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). Cybersecurity policy expert Susan Landau attributes the NSA’s harmonious collaboration with industry and academia in the selection of the AES in 2000 and the Agency’s support for the choice of a strong encryption algorithm designed by Europeans rather than by Americans to Brian Snow, who was the Technical Director of IAD and represented the NSA as cochairman of the Technical Working Group for the AES competition, and Michael Jacobs, who headed IAD at the time.[44]:75

After the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, the NSA believed that it had public support for a dramatic expansion of its surveillance activities.[45] According to Neal Koblitz and Alfred Menezes, the period when the NSA was a trusted partner with academia and industry in the development of cryptographic standards started to come to an end when, as part of the change in the NSA in the post-September 11 era, Snow was replaced as Technical Director, Jacobs retired, and IAD could no longer effectively oppose proposed actions by the offensive arm of the NSA.[46]

In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the NSA created new IT systems to deal with the flood of information from new technologies like the Internet and cellphones. ThinThread contained advanced data mining capabilities. It also had a “privacy mechanism”; surveillance was stored encrypted; decryption required a warrant. The research done under this program may have contributed to the technology used in later systems. ThinThread was cancelled when Michael Hayden chose Trailblazer, which did not include ThinThread’s privacy system.[47]

Trailblazer Project ramped up in 2002 and was worked on by Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), Boeing, Computer Sciences Corporation, IBM, and Litton Industries. Some NSA whistleblowers complained internally about major problems surrounding Trailblazer. This led to investigations by Congress and the NSA and DoD Inspectors General. The project was cancelled in early 2004.

Turbulence started in 2005. It was developed in small, inexpensive “test” pieces, rather than one grand plan like Trailblazer. It also included offensive cyber-warfare capabilities, like injecting malware into remote computers. Congress criticized Turbulence in 2007 for having similar bureaucratic problems as Trailblazer.[48] It was to be a realization of information processing at higher speeds in cyberspace.[49]

The massive extent of the NSA’s spying, both foreign and domestic, was revealed to the public in a series of detailed disclosures of internal NSA documents beginning in June 2013. Most of the disclosures were leaked by former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden.

NSA’s eavesdropping mission includes radio broadcasting, both from various organizations and individuals, the Internet, telephone calls, and other intercepted forms of communication. Its secure communications mission includes military, diplomatic, and all other sensitive, confidential or secret government communications.[50]

According to a 2010 article in The Washington Post, “[e]very day, collection systems at the National Security Agency intercept and store 1.7billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications. The NSA sorts a fraction of those into 70 separate databases.”[51]

Because of its listening task, NSA/CSS has been heavily involved in cryptanalytic research, continuing the work of predecessor agencies which had broken many World War II codes and ciphers (see, for instance, Purple, Venona project, and JN-25).

In 2004, NSA Central Security Service and the National Cyber Security Division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agreed to expand NSA Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education Program.[52]

As part of the National Security Presidential Directive 54/Homeland Security Presidential Directive 23 (NSPD 54), signed on January 8, 2008, by President Bush, the NSA became the lead agency to monitor and protect all of the federal government’s computer networks from cyber-terrorism.[9]

In the United States, at least since 2001,[53] there has been legal controversy over what signal intelligence can be used for and how much freedom the National Security Agency has to use signal intelligence.[54] The government has made, in 2015, slight changes in how it uses and collects certain types of data,[55] specifically phone records.

On December 16, 2005, The New York Times reported that, under White House pressure and with an executive order from President George W. Bush, the National Security Agency, in an attempt to thwart terrorism, had been tapping phone calls made to persons outside the country, without obtaining warrants from the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a secret court created for that purpose under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).[56]

One such surveillance program, authorized by the U.S. Signals Intelligence Directive 18 of President George Bush, was the Highlander Project undertaken for the National Security Agency by the U.S. Army 513th Military Intelligence Brigade. NSA relayed telephone (including cell phone) conversations obtained from ground, airborne, and satellite monitoring stations to various U.S. Army Signal Intelligence Officers, including the 201st Military Intelligence Battalion. Conversations of citizens of the U.S. were intercepted, along with those of other nations.[57]

Proponents of the surveillance program claim that the President has executive authority to order such action, arguing that laws such as FISA are overridden by the President’s Constitutional powers. In addition, some argued that FISA was implicitly overridden by a subsequent statute, the Authorization for Use of Military Force, although the Supreme Court’s ruling in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld deprecates this view. In the August 2006 case ACLU v. NSA, U.S. District Court Judge Anna Diggs Taylor concluded that NSA’s warrantless surveillance program was both illegal and unconstitutional. On July 6, 2007, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the decision on the grounds that the ACLU lacked standing to bring the suit.[58]

On January 17, 2006, the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a lawsuit, CCR v. Bush, against the George W. Bush Presidency. The lawsuit challenged the National Security Agency’s (NSA’s) surveillance of people within the U.S., including the interception of CCR emails without securing a warrant first.[59][60]

In September 2008, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a class action lawsuit against the NSA and several high-ranking officials of the Bush administration,[61] charging an “illegal and unconstitutional program of dragnet communications surveillance,”[62] based on documentation provided by former AT&T technician Mark Klein.[63]

As a result of the USA Freedom Act passed by Congress in June 2015, the NSA had to shut down its bulk phone surveillance program on November 29 of the same year. The USA Freedom Act forbids the NSA to collect metadata and content of phone calls unless it has a warrant for terrorism investigation. In that case the agency has to ask the telecom companies for the record, which will only be kept for six months.

In May 2008, Mark Klein, a former AT&T employee, alleged that his company had cooperated with NSA in installing Narus hardware to replace the FBI Carnivore program, to monitor network communications including traffic between U.S. citizens.[64]

NSA was reported in 2008 to use its computing capability to analyze “transactional” data that it regularly acquires from other government agencies, which gather it under their own jurisdictional authorities. As part of this effort, NSA now monitors huge volumes of records of domestic email data, web addresses from Internet searches, bank transfers, credit-card transactions, travel records, and telephone data, according to current and former intelligence officials interviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The sender, recipient, and subject line of emails can be included, but the content of the messages or of phone calls are not.[65]

A 2013 advisory group for the Obama administration, seeking to reform NSA spying programs following the revelations of documents released by Edward J. Snowden.[66] mentioned in ‘Recommendation 30’ on page 37, “…that the National Security Council staff should manage an interagency process to review on a regular basis the activities of the US Government regarding attacks that exploit a previously unknown vulnerability in a computer application.” Retired cyber security expert Richard A. Clarke was a group member and stated on April 11 that NSA had no advance knowledge of Heartbleed.[67]

In August 2013 it was revealed that a 2005 IRS training document showed that NSA intelligence intercepts and wiretaps, both foreign and domestic, were being supplied to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and were illegally used to launch criminal investigations of US citizens. Law enforcement agents were directed to conceal how the investigations began and recreate an apparently legal investigative trail by re-obtaining the same evidence by other means.[68][69]

In the months leading to April 2009, the NSA intercepted the communications of U.S. citizens, including a Congressman, although the Justice Department believed that the interception was unintentional. The Justice Department then took action to correct the issues and bring the program into compliance with existing laws.[70] United States Attorney General Eric Holder resumed the program according to his understanding of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act amendment of 2008, without explaining what had occurred.[71]

Polls conducted in June 2013 found divided results among Americans regarding NSA’s secret data collection.[72] Rasmussen Reports found that 59% of Americans disapprove,[73] Gallup found that 53% disapprove,[74] and Pew found that 56% are in favor of NSA data collection.[75]

On April 25, 2013, the NSA obtained a court order requiring Verizon’s Business Network Services to provide metadata on all calls in its system to the NSA “on an ongoing daily basis” for a three-month period, as reported by The Guardian on June 6, 2013. This information includes “the numbers of both parties on a call… location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls” but not “[t]he contents of the conversation itself”. The order relies on the so-called “business records” provision of the Patriot Act.[76][77]

In August 2013, following the Snowden leaks, new details about the NSA’s data mining activity were revealed. Reportedly, the majority of emails into or out of the United States are captured at “selected communications links” and automatically analyzed for keywords or other “selectors”. Emails that do not match are deleted.[78]

The utility of such a massive metadata collection in preventing terrorist attacks is disputed. Many studies reveal the dragnet like system to be ineffective. One such report, released by the New America Foundation concluded that after an analysis of 225 terrorism cases, the NSA “had no discernible impact on preventing acts of terrorism.”[79]

Defenders of the program said that while metadata alone can’t provide all the information necessary to prevent an attack, it assures the ability to “connect the dots”[80] between suspect foreign numbers and domestic numbers with a speed only the NSA’s software is capable of. One benefit of this is quickly being able to determine the difference between suspicious activity and real threats.[citation needed] As an example, NSA director General Keith B. Alexander mentioned at the annual Cybersecurity Summit in 2013, that metadata analysis of domestic phone call records after the Boston Marathon bombing helped determine that rumors of a follow-up attack in New York were baseless.[80]

In addition to doubts about its effectiveness, many people argue that the collection of metadata is an unconstitutional invasion of privacy. As of 2015[update], the collection process remains legal and grounded in the ruling from Smith v. Maryland (1979). A prominent opponent of the data collection and its legality is U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon, who issued a report in 2013[81] in which he stated: “I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval…Surely, such a program infringes on ‘that degree of privacy’ that the founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment”.

As of May 7, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that the interpretation of Section 215 of the Patriot Act was wrong and that the NSA program that has been collecting Americans’ phone records in bulk is illegal.[82] It stated that Section 215 cannot be clearly interpreted to allow government to collect national phone data and, as a result, expired on June 1, 2015. This ruling “is the first time a higher-level court in the regular judicial system has reviewed the N.S.A. phone records program.”[83] The replacement law known as the USA Freedom Act, which will enable the NSA to continue to have bulk access to citizens’ metadata but with the stipulation that the data will now be stored by the companies themselves.[83] This change will not have any effect on other Agency procedures – outside of metadata collection – which have purportedly challenged Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights;,[84] including Upstream collection, a mass of techniques used by the Agency to collect and store American’s data/communications directly from the Internet backbone.[85]

Under the Upstream program, the NSA paid telecommunications companies between 9 and 95 million dollars in order to collect data from them.[86] While companies such as Google and Yahoo! claim that they do not provide “direct access” from their servers to the NSA unless under a court order,[87] the NSA had access to emails, phone calls and cellular data users.[88] Under this new ruling, telecommunications companies maintain bulk user metadata on their servers for at least 18 months, to be provided upon request to the NSA.[83] This ruling made the mass storage of specific phone records at NSA datacenters illegal, but it did not rule on Section 215’s constitutionality.[83]

In a declassified document it was revealed that 17,835 phone lines were on an improperly permitted “alert list” from 2006 to 2009 in breach of compliance, which tagged these phone lines for daily monitoring.[89][90][91] Eleven percent of these monitored phone lines met the agency’s legal standard for “reasonably articulable suspicion” (RAS).[89][92] The NSA tracks the locations of hundreds of millions of cellphones per day, allowing it to map people’s movements and relationships in detail.[93] The NSA has been reported to have access to all communications made via Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, YouTube, AOL, Skype, Apple and Paltalk,[94] and collects hundreds of millions of contact lists from personal email and instant messaging accounts each year.[95] It has also managed to weaken much of the encryption used on the Internet (by collaborating with, coercing or otherwise infiltrating numerous technology companies to leave “backdoors” into their systems), so that the majority of encryption is inadvertently vulnerable to different forms of attack.[96][97]

Domestically, the NSA has been proven to collect and store metadata records of phone calls,[98] including over 120 million US Verizon subscribers,[99] as well as intercept vast amounts of communications via the internet (Upstream).[94] The government’s legal standing had been to rely on a secret interpretation of the Patriot Act whereby the entirety of US communications may be considered “relevant” to a terrorism investigation if it is expected that even a tiny minority may relate to terrorism.[100] The NSA also supplies foreign intercepts to the DEA, IRS and other law enforcement agencies, who use these to initiate criminal investigations. Federal agents are then instructed to “recreate” the investigative trail via parallel construction.[101]

The NSA also spies on influential Muslims to obtain information that could be used to discredit them, such as their use of pornography. The targets, both domestic and abroad, are not suspected of any crime but hold religious or political views deemed “radical” by the NSA.[102]

According to a report in The Washington Post in July 2014, relying on information provided by Snowden, 90% of those placed under surveillance in the U.S. are ordinary Americans, and are not the intended targets. The newspaper said it had examined documents including emails, text messages, and online accounts that support the claim.[103]

Despite White House claims that these programs have congressional oversight, many members of Congress were unaware of the existence of these NSA programs or the secret interpretation of the Patriot Act, and have consistently been denied access to basic information about them.[104] The United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the secret court charged with regulating the NSA’s activities is, according to its chief judge, incapable of investigating or verifying how often the NSA breaks even its own secret rules.[105] It has since been reported that the NSA violated its own rules on data access thousands of times a year, many of these violations involving large-scale data interceptions.[106] NSA officers have even used data intercepts to spy on love interests;[107] “most of the NSA violations were self-reported, and each instance resulted in administrative action of termination.”[108]

The NSA has “generally disregarded the special rules for disseminating United States person information” by illegally sharing its intercepts with other law enforcement agencies.[109] A March 2009 FISA Court opinion, which the court released, states that protocols restricting data queries had been “so frequently and systemically violated that it can be fairly said that this critical element of the overall … regime has never functioned effectively.”[110][111] In 2011 the same court noted that the “volume and nature” of the NSA’s bulk foreign Internet intercepts was “fundamentally different from what the court had been led to believe”.[109] Email contact lists (including those of US citizens) are collected at numerous foreign locations to work around the illegality of doing so on US soil.[95]

Legal opinions on the NSA’s bulk collection program have differed. In mid-December 2013, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ruled that the “almost-Orwellian” program likely violates the Constitution, and wrote, “I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval. Surely, such a program infringes on ‘that degree of privacy’ that the Founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment. Indeed, I have little doubt that the author of our Constitution, James Madison, who cautioned us to beware ‘the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power,’ would be aghast.”[112]

Later that month, U.S. District Judge William Pauley ruled that the NSA’s collection of telephone records is legal and valuable in the fight against terrorism. In his opinion, he wrote, “a bulk telephony metadata collection program [is] a wide net that could find and isolate gossamer contacts among suspected terrorists in an ocean of seemingly disconnected data” and noted that a similar collection of data prior to 9/11 might have prevented the attack.[113]

At a March 2013 Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, Senator Ron Wyden asked Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, “does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” Clapper replied “No, sir. … Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect, but not wittingly.”[114] This statement came under scrutiny months later, in June 2013, details of the PRISM surveillance program were published, showing that “the NSA apparently can gain access to the servers of nine Internet companies for a wide range of digital data.”[114] Wyden said that Clapper had failed to give a “straight answer” in his testimony. Clapper, in response to criticism, said, “I responded in what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful manner.” Clapper added, “There are honest differences on the semantics of what — when someone says collection to me, that has a specific meaning, which may have a different meaning to him.”[114]

NSA whistler-blower Edward Snowden additionally revealed the existence of XKeyscore, a top secret NSA program that allows the agency to search vast databases of “the metadata as well as the content of emails and other internet activity, such as browser history,” with capability to search by “name, telephone number, IP address, keywords, the language in which the internet activity was conducted or the type of browser used.”[115] XKeyscore “provides the technological capability, if not the legal authority, to target even US persons for extensive electronic surveillance without a warrant provided that some identifying information, such as their email or IP address, is known to the analyst.”[115]

Regarding the necessity of these NSA programs, Alexander stated on June 27 that the NSA’s bulk phone and Internet intercepts had been instrumental in preventing 54 terrorist “events”, including 13 in the US, and in all but one of these cases had provided the initial tip to “unravel the threat stream”.[116] On July 31 NSA Deputy Director John Inglis conceded to the Senate that these intercepts had not been vital in stopping any terrorist attacks, but were “close” to vital in identifying and convicting four San Diego men for sending US$8,930 to Al-Shabaab, a militia that conducts terrorism in Somalia.[117][118][119]

The U.S. government has aggressively sought to dismiss and challenge Fourth Amendment cases raised against it, and has granted retroactive immunity to ISPs and telecoms participating in domestic surveillance.[120][121] The U.S. military has acknowledged blocking access to parts of The Guardian website for thousands of defense personnel across the country,[122][123] and blocking the entire Guardian website for personnel stationed throughout Afghanistan, the Middle East, and South Asia.[124]

An October 2014 United Nations report condemned mass surveillance by the United States and other countries as violating multiple international treaties and conventions that guarantee core privacy rights.[125]

In 2015, the Wikimedia Foundation and several other plaintiffs filed suit against the NSA, Wikimedia Foundation v. NSA, for the violation of their user’s First and Fourth Amendment rights by the Agency’s mass surveillance programs like Upstream.[126] The suit was initially dismissed, but was later found to have plausible and legal standing to its complaints by the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and was remanded. The case is currently awaiting further proceedings at the United States District Court for the District of Maryland.[127]

An exploit, EternalBlue, which is believed to have been created by the NSA, was used in the unprecedented worldwide WannaCry ransomware attack in May 2017. The exploit had been leaked online by a hacking group, The Shadow Brokers, nearly a month prior to the attack. A number of experts have pointed the finger at the NSA’s non-disclosure of the underlying vulnerability, and their loss of control over the EternalBlue attack tool that exploited it. Edward Snowden said that if the NSA had “privately disclosed the flaw used to attack hospitals when they found it, not when they lost it, [the attack] might not have happened”.[128] Wikipedia co-founder, Jimmy Wales, stated that he joined “with Microsoft and the other leaders of the industry in saying this is a huge screw-up by the government … the moment the NSA found it, they should have notified Microsoft so they could quietly issue a patch and really chivvy people along, long before it became a huge problem.”[129]

Operations by the National Security Agency can be divided in three types:

“Echelon” was created in the incubator of the Cold War.[130] Today it is a legacy system, and several NSA stations are closing.[131]

NSA/CSS, in combination with the equivalent agencies in the United Kingdom (Government Communications Headquarters), Canada (Communications Security Establishment), Australia (Defence Signals Directorate), and New Zealand (Government Communications Security Bureau), otherwise known as the UKUSA group,[132] was reported to be in command of the operation of the so-called ECHELON system. Its capabilities were suspected to include the ability to monitor a large proportion of the world’s transmitted civilian telephone, fax and data traffic.[133]

During the early 1970s, the first of what became more than eight large satellite communications dishes were installed at Menwith Hill.[134] Investigative journalist Duncan Campbell reported in 1988 on the “ECHELON” surveillance program, an extension of the UKUSA Agreement on global signals intelligence SIGINT, and detailed how the eavesdropping operations worked.[135] On November 3, 1999 the BBC reported that they had confirmation from the Australian Government of the existence of a powerful “global spying network” code-named Echelon, that could “eavesdrop on every single phone call, fax or e-mail, anywhere on the planet” with Britain and the United States as the chief protagonists. They confirmed that Menwith Hill was “linked directly to the headquarters of the US National Security Agency (NSA) at Fort Meade in Maryland”.[136]

NSA’s United States Signals Intelligence Directive 18 (USSID 18) strictly prohibited the interception or collection of information about “… U.S. persons, entities, corporations or organizations….” without explicit written legal permission from the United States Attorney General when the subject is located abroad, or the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court when within U.S. borders. Alleged Echelon-related activities, including its use for motives other than national security, including political and industrial espionage, received criticism from countries outside the UKUSA alliance.[137][138]

The NSA was also involved in planning to blackmail people with “SEXINT”, intelligence gained about a potential target’s sexual activity and preferences. Those targeted had not committed any apparent crime nor were they charged with one.[139]

In order to support its facial recognition program, the NSA is intercepting “millions of images per day”.[140]

The Real Time Regional Gateway is a data collection program introduced in 2005 in Iraq by NSA during the Iraq War that consisted of gathering all electronic communication, storing it, then searching and otherwise analyzing it. It was effective in providing information about Iraqi insurgents who had eluded less comprehensive techniques.[141] This “collect it all” strategy introduced by NSA director, Keith B. Alexander, is believed by Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian to be the model for the comprehensive worldwide mass archiving of communications which NSA is engaged in as of 2013.[142]

A dedicated unit of the NSA locates targets for the CIA for extrajudicial assassination in the Middle East.[143] The NSA has also spied extensively on the European Union, the United Nations and numerous governments including allies and trading partners in Europe, South America and Asia.[144][145]

In June 2015, WikiLeaks published documents showing that NSA spied on French companies.[146]

In July 2015, WikiLeaks published documents showing that NSA spied on federal German ministries since the 1990s.[147][148] Even Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphones and phone of her predecessors had been intercepted.[149]

Edward Snowden revealed in June 2013 that between February 8 and March 8, 2013, the NSA collected about 124.8billion telephone data items and 97.1billion computer data items throughout the world, as was displayed in charts from an internal NSA tool codenamed Boundless Informant. Initially, it was reported that some of these data reflected eavesdropping on citizens in countries like Germany, Spain and France,[150] but later on, it became clear that those data were collected by European agencies during military missions abroad and were subsequently shared with NSA.

In 2013, reporters uncovered a secret memo that claims the NSA created and pushed for the adoption of the Dual EC DRBG encryption standard that contained built-in vulnerabilities in 2006 to the United States National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the International Organization for Standardization (aka ISO).[151][152] This memo appears to give credence to previous speculation by cryptographers at Microsoft Research.[153] Edward Snowden claims that the NSA often bypasses encryption altogether by lifting information before it is encrypted or after it is decrypted.[152]

XKeyscore rules (as specified in a file xkeyscorerules100.txt, sourced by German TV stations NDR and WDR, who claim to have excerpts from its source code) reveal that the NSA tracks users of privacy-enhancing software tools, including Tor; an anonymous email service provided by the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) in Cambridge, Massachusetts; and readers of the Linux Journal.[154][155]

Linus Torvalds, the founder of Linux kernel, joked during a LinuxCon keynote on September 18, 2013, that the NSA, who are the founder of SELinux, wanted a backdoor in the kernel.[156] However, later, Linus’ father, a Member of the European Parliament (MEP), revealed that the NSA actually did this.[157]

When my oldest son was asked the same question: “Has he been approached by the NSA about backdoors?” he said “No”, but at the same time he nodded. Then he was sort of in the legal free. He had given the right answer, everybody understood that the NSA had approached him.

IBM Notes was the first widely adopted software product to use public key cryptography for clientserver and serverserver authentication and for encryption of data. Until US laws regulating encryption were changed in 2000, IBM and Lotus were prohibited from exporting versions of Notes that supported symmetric encryption keys that were longer than 40 bits. In 1997, Lotus negotiated an agreement with the NSA that allowed export of a version that supported stronger keys with 64 bits, but 24 of the bits were encrypted with a special key and included in the message to provide a “workload reduction factor” for the NSA. This strengthened the protection for users of Notes outside the US against private-sector industrial espionage, but not against spying by the US government.[159][160]

While it is assumed that foreign transmissions terminating in the U.S. (such as a non-U.S. citizen accessing a U.S. website) subject non-U.S. citizens to NSA surveillance, recent research into boomerang routing has raised new concerns about the NSA’s ability to surveil the domestic Internet traffic of foreign countries.[18] Boomerang routing occurs when an Internet transmission that originates and terminates in a single country transits another. Research at the University of Toronto has suggested that approximately 25% of Canadian domestic traffic may be subject to NSA surveillance activities as a result of the boomerang routing of Canadian Internet service providers.[18]

Intercepted packages are opened carefully by NSA employees

A “load station” implanting a beacon

A document included in NSA files released with Glenn Greenwald’s book No Place to Hide details how the agency’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) and other NSA units gain access to hardware. They intercept routers, servers and other network hardware being shipped to organizations targeted for surveillance and install covert implant firmware onto them before they are delivered. This was described by an NSA manager as “some of the most productive operations in TAO because they preposition access points into hard target networks around the world.”[161]

Computers seized by the NSA due to interdiction are often modified with a physical device known as Cottonmouth.[162] Cottonmouth is a device that can be inserted in the USB port of a computer in order to establish remote access to the targeted machine. According to NSA’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) group implant catalog, after implanting Cottonmouth, the NSA can establish Bridging (networking) “that allows the NSA to load exploit software onto modified computers as well as allowing the NSA to relay commands and data between hardware and software implants.”[163]

NSA’s mission, as set forth in Executive Order 12333 in 1981, is to collect information that constitutes “foreign intelligence or counterintelligence” while not “acquiring information concerning the domestic activities of United States persons”. NSA has declared that it relies on the FBI to collect information on foreign intelligence activities within the borders of the United States, while confining its own activities within the United States to the embassies and missions of foreign nations.[164] The appearance of a ‘Domestic Surveillance Directorate’ of the NSA was soon exposed as a hoax in 2013.[165][166]

NSA’s domestic surveillance activities are limited by the requirements imposed by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for example held in October 2011, citing multiple Supreme Court precedents, that the Fourth Amendment prohibitions against unreasonable searches and seizures applies to the contents of all communications, whatever the means, because “a person’s private communications are akin to personal papers.”[167] However, these protections do not apply to non-U.S. persons located outside of U.S. borders, so the NSA’s foreign surveillance efforts are subject to far fewer limitations under U.S. law.[168] The specific requirements for domestic surveillance operations are contained in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA), which does not extend protection to non-U.S. citizens located outside of U.S. territory.[168]

George W. Bush, president during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, approved the Patriot Act shortly after the attacks to take anti-terrorist security measures. Title 1, 2, and 9 specifically authorized measures that would be taken by the NSA. These titles granted enhanced domestic security against terrorism, surveillance procedures, and improved intelligence, respectively. On March 10, 2004, there was a debate between President Bush and White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, Attorney General John Ashcroft, and Acting Attorney General James Comey. The Attorneys General were unsure if the NSA’s programs could be considered constitutional. They threatened to resign over the matter, but ultimately the NSA’s programs continued.[169] On March 11, 2004, President Bush signed a new authorization for mass surveillance of Internet records, in addition to the surveillance of phone records. This allowed the president to be able to override laws such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which protected civilians from mass surveillance. In addition to this, President Bush also signed that the measures of mass surveillance were also retroactively in place.[170]

Under the PRISM program, which started in 2007,[171][172] NSA gathers Internet communications from foreign targets from nine major U.S. Internet-based communication service providers: Microsoft,[173] Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple. Data gathered include email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, VoIP chats such as Skype, and file transfers.

Former NSA director General Keith Alexander claimed that in September 2009 the NSA prevented Najibullah Zazi and his friends from carrying out a terrorist attack.[174] However, this claim has been debunked and no evidence has been presented demonstrating that the NSA has ever been instrumental in preventing a terrorist attack.[175][176][177][178]

Besides the more traditional ways of eavesdropping in order to collect signals intelligence, NSA is also engaged in hacking computers, smartphones and their networks. These operations are conducted by the Tailored Access Operations (TAO) division, which has been active since at least circa 1998.[179]

According to the Foreign Policy magazine, “… the Office of Tailored Access Operations, or TAO, has successfully penetrated Chinese computer and telecommunications systems for almost 15 years, generating some of the best and most reliable intelligence information about what is going on inside the People’s Republic of China.”[180][181]

In an interview with Wired magazine, Edward Snowden said the Tailored Access Operations division accidentally caused Syria’s internet blackout in 2012.[182]

The NSA is led by the Director of the National Security Agency (DIRNSA), who also serves as Chief of the Central Security Service (CHCSS) and Commander of the United States Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) and is the highest-ranking military official of these organizations. He is assisted by a Deputy Director, who is the highest-ranking civilian within the NSA/CSS.

NSA also has an Inspector General, head of the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), a General Counsel, head of the Office of the General Counsel (OGC) and a Director of Compliance, who is head of the Office of the Director of Compliance (ODOC).[183]

Unlike other intelligence organizations such as CIA or DIA, NSA has always been particularly reticent concerning its internal organizational structure.

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National Security Agency – Wikipedia

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Urban Dictionary: NSA

A shared abbreviation that can mean one of many things (the most common): No Strings Attached & National Security Agency.

No Strings Attached is a common English Adverb / expression that refers to no other obligations or responsibilities in a deal. The abrev. NSA has become connected to the casual sex terminology as someone wishing to engage in sexual activities while being free of all responsibilities associated with a romantic relationship.

Many people believe the National Security Agency operates much like the CIA, however, the NSA is a division of the US Defense Department and specializes on the protection of all US Government Communication & Information Systems. The NSA is limited to information surveillance (national and international only) and does not engage in human intelligence activities.

Other such abbreviations: National Shipping Authority, National Standards Association, National Student Association, National Scrabble Association, Niagara Soccer Association, National Scrabble Association, etc. etc.

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Urban Dictionary: NSA

Posted in NSA

National Security Agency – Wikipedia

National Security Agency

Seal of the National Security Agency

Flag of the National Security Agency

The National Security Agency (NSA) is a national-level intelligence agency of the United States Department of Defense, under the authority of the Director of National Intelligence. The NSA is responsible for global monitoring, collection, and processing of information and data for foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes, specializing in a discipline known as signals intelligence (SIGINT). The NSA is also tasked with the protection of U.S. communications networks and information systems.[8][9] The NSA relies on a variety of measures to accomplish its mission, the majority of which are clandestine.[10]

Originating as a unit to decipher coded communications in World War II, it was officially formed as the NSA by President Harry S. Truman in 1952. Since then, it has become one of the largest U.S. intelligence organizations in terms of personnel and budget.[6][11] The NSA currently conducts worldwide mass data collection and has been known to physically bug electronic systems as one method to this end.[12] The NSA has also been alleged to have been behind such attack software as Stuxnet, which severely damaged Iran’s nuclear program.[13][14] The NSA, alongside the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), maintains a physical presence in many countries across the globe; the CIA/NSA joint Special Collection Service (a highly classified intelligence team) inserts eavesdropping devices in high value targets (such as Presidential palaces or embassies). SCS collection tactics allegedly encompass “close surveillance, burglary, wiretapping, [and] breaking and entering”.[15][16]

Unlike the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), both of which specialize primarily in foreign human espionage, the NSA does not publicly conduct human-source intelligence gathering. The NSA is entrusted with providing assistance to, and the coordination of, SIGINT elements for other government organizations – which are prevented by law from engaging in such activities on their own.[17] As part of these responsibilities, the agency has a co-located organization called the Central Security Service (CSS), which facilitates cooperation between the NSA and other U.S. defense cryptanalysis components. To further ensure streamlined communication between the signals intelligence community divisions, the NSA Director simultaneously serves as the Commander of the United States Cyber Command and as Chief of the Central Security Service.

The NSA’s actions have been a matter of political controversy on several occasions, including its spying on anti-Vietnam-war leaders and the agency’s participation in economic espionage. In 2013, the NSA had many of its secret surveillance programs revealed to the public by Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor. According to the leaked documents, the NSA intercepts and stores the communications of over a billion people worldwide, including United States citizens. The documents also revealed the NSA tracks hundreds of millions of people’s movements using cellphones metadata. Internationally, research has pointed to the NSA’s ability to surveil the domestic Internet traffic of foreign countries through “boomerang routing”.[18]

The origins of the National Security Agency can be traced back to April 28, 1917, three weeks after the U.S. Congress declared war on Germany in World War I. A code and cipher decryption unit was established as the Cable and Telegraph Section which was also known as the Cipher Bureau.[19] It was headquartered in Washington, D.C. and was part of the war effort under the executive branch without direct Congressional authorization. During the course of the war it was relocated in the army’s organizational chart several times. On July 5, 1917, Herbert O. Yardley was assigned to head the unit. At that point, the unit consisted of Yardley and two civilian clerks. It absorbed the navy’s Cryptanalysis functions in July 1918. World War I ended on November 11, 1918, and the army cryptographic section of Military Intelligence (MI-8) moved to New York City on May 20, 1919, where it continued intelligence activities as the Code Compilation Company under the direction of Yardley.[20][21]

After the disbandment of the U.S. Army cryptographic section of military intelligence, known as MI-8, in 1919, the U.S. government created the Cipher Bureau, also known as Black Chamber. The Black Chamber was the United States’ first peacetime cryptanalytic organization.[22] Jointly funded by the Army and the State Department, the Cipher Bureau was disguised as a New York City commercial code company; it actually produced and sold such codes for business use. Its true mission, however, was to break the communications (chiefly diplomatic) of other nations. Its most notable known success was at the Washington Naval Conference, during which it aided American negotiators considerably by providing them with the decrypted traffic of many of the conference delegations, most notably the Japanese. The Black Chamber successfully persuaded Western Union, the largest U.S. telegram company at the time, as well as several other communications companies to illegally give the Black Chamber access to cable traffic of foreign embassies and consulates.[23] Soon, these companies publicly discontinued their collaboration.

Despite the Chamber’s initial successes, it was shut down in 1929 by U.S. Secretary of State Henry L. Stimson, who defended his decision by stating, “Gentlemen do not read each other’s mail”.[24]

During World War II, the Signal Intelligence Service (SIS) was created to intercept and decipher the communications of the Axis powers.[25] When the war ended, the SIS was reorganized as the Army Security Agency (ASA), and it was placed under the leadership of the Director of Military Intelligence.[25]

On May 20, 1949, all cryptologic activities were centralized under a national organization called the Armed Forces Security Agency (AFSA).[25] This organization was originally established within the U.S. Department of Defense under the command of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.[26] The AFSA was tasked to direct Department of Defense communications and electronic intelligence activities, except those of U.S. military intelligence units.[26] However, the AFSA was unable to centralize communications intelligence and failed to coordinate with civilian agencies that shared its interests such as the Department of State, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).[26] In December 1951, President Harry S. Truman ordered a panel to investigate how AFSA had failed to achieve its goals. The results of the investigation led to improvements and its redesignation as the National Security Agency.[27]

The agency was formally established by Truman in a memorandum of October 24, 1952, that revised National Security Council Intelligence Directive (NSCID) 9.[28] Since President Truman’s memo was a classified document,[28] the existence of the NSA was not known to the public at that time. Due to its ultra-secrecy the U.S. intelligence community referred to the NSA as “No Such Agency”.[29]

In the 1960s, the NSA played a key role in expanding U.S. commitment to the Vietnam War by providing evidence of a North Vietnamese attack on the American destroyer USSMaddox during the Gulf of Tonkin incident.[30]

A secret operation, code-named “MINARET”, was set up by the NSA to monitor the phone communications of Senators Frank Church and Howard Baker, as well as major civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King, Jr., and prominent U.S. journalists and athletes who criticized the Vietnam War.[31] However, the project turned out to be controversial, and an internal review by the NSA concluded that its Minaret program was “disreputable if not outright illegal”.[31]

The NSA mounted a major effort to secure tactical communications among U.S. forces during the war with mixed success. The NESTOR family of compatible secure voice systems it developed was widely deployed during the Vietnam War, with about 30,000 NESTOR sets produced. However a variety of technical and operational problems limited their use, allowing the North Vietnamese to exploit and intercept U.S. communications.[32] :Vol I, p.79

In the aftermath of the Watergate scandal, a congressional hearing in 1975 led by Sen. Frank Church[33] revealed that the NSA, in collaboration with Britain’s SIGINT intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), had routinely intercepted the international communications of prominent anti-Vietnam war leaders such as Jane Fonda and Dr. Benjamin Spock.[34] Following the resignation of President Richard Nixon, there were several investigations of suspected misuse of FBI, CIA and NSA facilities.[35] Senator Frank Church uncovered previously unknown activity,[35] such as a CIA plot (ordered by the administration of President John F. Kennedy) to assassinate Fidel Castro.[36] The investigation also uncovered NSA’s wiretaps on targeted U.S. citizens.[37]

After the Church Committee hearings, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 was passed into law. This was designed to limit the practice of mass surveillance in the United States.[35]

In 1986, the NSA intercepted the communications of the Libyan government during the immediate aftermath of the Berlin discotheque bombing. The White House asserted that the NSA interception had provided “irrefutable” evidence that Libya was behind the bombing, which U.S. President Ronald Reagan cited as a justification for the 1986 United States bombing of Libya.[38][39]

In 1999, a multi-year investigation by the European Parliament highlighted the NSA’s role in economic espionage in a report entitled ‘Development of Surveillance Technology and Risk of Abuse of Economic Information’.[40] That year, the NSA founded the NSA Hall of Honor, a memorial at the National Cryptologic Museum in Fort Meade, Maryland.[41] The memorial is a, “tribute to the pioneers and heroes who have made significant and long-lasting contributions to American cryptology”.[41] NSA employees must be retired for more than fifteen years to qualify for the memorial.[41]

NSA’s infrastructure deteriorated in the 1990s as defense budget cuts resulted in maintenance deferrals. On January 24, 2000, NSA headquarters suffered a total network outage for three days caused by an overloaded network. Incoming traffic was successfully stored on agency servers, but it could not be directed and processed. The agency carried out emergency repairs at a cost of $3 million to get the system running again. (Some incoming traffic was also directed instead to Britain’s GCHQ for the time being.) Director Michael Hayden called the outage a “wake-up call” for the need to invest in the agency’s infrastructure.[42]

In the 1990s the defensive arm of the NSA the Information Assurance Directorate (IAD) started working more openly; the first public technical talk by an NSA scientist at a major cryptography conference was J. Solinas’ presentation on efficient Elliptic Curve Cryptography algorithms at Crypto 1997.[43] The IAD’s cooperative approach to academia and industry culminated in its support for a transparent process for replacing the outdated Data Encryption Standard (DES) by an Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). Cybersecurity policy expert Susan Landau attributes the NSA’s harmonious collaboration with industry and academia in the selection of the AES in 2000 and the Agency’s support for the choice of a strong encryption algorithm designed by Europeans rather than by Americans to Brian Snow, who was the Technical Director of IAD and represented the NSA as cochairman of the Technical Working Group for the AES competition, and Michael Jacobs, who headed IAD at the time.[44]:75

After the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, the NSA believed that it had public support for a dramatic expansion of its surveillance activities.[45] According to Neal Koblitz and Alfred Menezes, the period when the NSA was a trusted partner with academia and industry in the development of cryptographic standards started to come to an end when, as part of the change in the NSA in the post-September 11 era, Snow was replaced as Technical Director, Jacobs retired, and IAD could no longer effectively oppose proposed actions by the offensive arm of the NSA.[46]

In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the NSA created new IT systems to deal with the flood of information from new technologies like the Internet and cellphones. ThinThread contained advanced data mining capabilities. It also had a “privacy mechanism”; surveillance was stored encrypted; decryption required a warrant. The research done under this program may have contributed to the technology used in later systems. ThinThread was cancelled when Michael Hayden chose Trailblazer, which did not include ThinThread’s privacy system.[47]

Trailblazer Project ramped up in 2002 and was worked on by Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), Boeing, Computer Sciences Corporation, IBM, and Litton Industries. Some NSA whistleblowers complained internally about major problems surrounding Trailblazer. This led to investigations by Congress and the NSA and DoD Inspectors General. The project was cancelled in early 2004.

Turbulence started in 2005. It was developed in small, inexpensive “test” pieces, rather than one grand plan like Trailblazer. It also included offensive cyber-warfare capabilities, like injecting malware into remote computers. Congress criticized Turbulence in 2007 for having similar bureaucratic problems as Trailblazer.[48] It was to be a realization of information processing at higher speeds in cyberspace.[49]

The massive extent of the NSA’s spying, both foreign and domestic, was revealed to the public in a series of detailed disclosures of internal NSA documents beginning in June 2013. Most of the disclosures were leaked by former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden.

NSA’s eavesdropping mission includes radio broadcasting, both from various organizations and individuals, the Internet, telephone calls, and other intercepted forms of communication. Its secure communications mission includes military, diplomatic, and all other sensitive, confidential or secret government communications.[50]

According to a 2010 article in The Washington Post, “[e]very day, collection systems at the National Security Agency intercept and store 1.7billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications. The NSA sorts a fraction of those into 70 separate databases.”[51]

Because of its listening task, NSA/CSS has been heavily involved in cryptanalytic research, continuing the work of predecessor agencies which had broken many World War II codes and ciphers (see, for instance, Purple, Venona project, and JN-25).

In 2004, NSA Central Security Service and the National Cyber Security Division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agreed to expand NSA Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education Program.[52]

As part of the National Security Presidential Directive 54/Homeland Security Presidential Directive 23 (NSPD 54), signed on January 8, 2008, by President Bush, the NSA became the lead agency to monitor and protect all of the federal government’s computer networks from cyber-terrorism.[9]

In the United States, at least since 2001,[53] there has been legal controversy over what signal intelligence can be used for and how much freedom the National Security Agency has to use signal intelligence.[54] The government has made, in 2015, slight changes in how it uses and collects certain types of data,[55] specifically phone records.

On December 16, 2005, The New York Times reported that, under White House pressure and with an executive order from President George W. Bush, the National Security Agency, in an attempt to thwart terrorism, had been tapping phone calls made to persons outside the country, without obtaining warrants from the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a secret court created for that purpose under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).[56]

One such surveillance program, authorized by the U.S. Signals Intelligence Directive 18 of President George Bush, was the Highlander Project undertaken for the National Security Agency by the U.S. Army 513th Military Intelligence Brigade. NSA relayed telephone (including cell phone) conversations obtained from ground, airborne, and satellite monitoring stations to various U.S. Army Signal Intelligence Officers, including the 201st Military Intelligence Battalion. Conversations of citizens of the U.S. were intercepted, along with those of other nations.[57]

Proponents of the surveillance program claim that the President has executive authority to order such action, arguing that laws such as FISA are overridden by the President’s Constitutional powers. In addition, some argued that FISA was implicitly overridden by a subsequent statute, the Authorization for Use of Military Force, although the Supreme Court’s ruling in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld deprecates this view. In the August 2006 case ACLU v. NSA, U.S. District Court Judge Anna Diggs Taylor concluded that NSA’s warrantless surveillance program was both illegal and unconstitutional. On July 6, 2007, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the decision on the grounds that the ACLU lacked standing to bring the suit.[58]

On January 17, 2006, the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a lawsuit, CCR v. Bush, against the George W. Bush Presidency. The lawsuit challenged the National Security Agency’s (NSA’s) surveillance of people within the U.S., including the interception of CCR emails without securing a warrant first.[59][60]

In September 2008, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a class action lawsuit against the NSA and several high-ranking officials of the Bush administration,[61] charging an “illegal and unconstitutional program of dragnet communications surveillance,”[62] based on documentation provided by former AT&T technician Mark Klein.[63]

As a result of the USA Freedom Act passed by Congress in June 2015, the NSA had to shut down its bulk phone surveillance program on November 29 of the same year. The USA Freedom Act forbids the NSA to collect metadata and content of phone calls unless it has a warrant for terrorism investigation. In that case the agency has to ask the telecom companies for the record, which will only be kept for six months.

In May 2008, Mark Klein, a former AT&T employee, alleged that his company had cooperated with NSA in installing Narus hardware to replace the FBI Carnivore program, to monitor network communications including traffic between U.S. citizens.[64]

NSA was reported in 2008 to use its computing capability to analyze “transactional” data that it regularly acquires from other government agencies, which gather it under their own jurisdictional authorities. As part of this effort, NSA now monitors huge volumes of records of domestic email data, web addresses from Internet searches, bank transfers, credit-card transactions, travel records, and telephone data, according to current and former intelligence officials interviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The sender, recipient, and subject line of emails can be included, but the content of the messages or of phone calls are not.[65]

A 2013 advisory group for the Obama administration, seeking to reform NSA spying programs following the revelations of documents released by Edward J. Snowden.[66] mentioned in ‘Recommendation 30’ on page 37, “…that the National Security Council staff should manage an interagency process to review on a regular basis the activities of the US Government regarding attacks that exploit a previously unknown vulnerability in a computer application.” Retired cyber security expert Richard A. Clarke was a group member and stated on April 11 that NSA had no advance knowledge of Heartbleed.[67]

In August 2013 it was revealed that a 2005 IRS training document showed that NSA intelligence intercepts and wiretaps, both foreign and domestic, were being supplied to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and were illegally used to launch criminal investigations of US citizens. Law enforcement agents were directed to conceal how the investigations began and recreate an apparently legal investigative trail by re-obtaining the same evidence by other means.[68][69]

In the months leading to April 2009, the NSA intercepted the communications of U.S. citizens, including a Congressman, although the Justice Department believed that the interception was unintentional. The Justice Department then took action to correct the issues and bring the program into compliance with existing laws.[70] United States Attorney General Eric Holder resumed the program according to his understanding of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act amendment of 2008, without explaining what had occurred.[71]

Polls conducted in June 2013 found divided results among Americans regarding NSA’s secret data collection.[72] Rasmussen Reports found that 59% of Americans disapprove,[73] Gallup found that 53% disapprove,[74] and Pew found that 56% are in favor of NSA data collection.[75]

On April 25, 2013, the NSA obtained a court order requiring Verizon’s Business Network Services to provide metadata on all calls in its system to the NSA “on an ongoing daily basis” for a three-month period, as reported by The Guardian on June 6, 2013. This information includes “the numbers of both parties on a call… location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls” but not “[t]he contents of the conversation itself”. The order relies on the so-called “business records” provision of the Patriot Act.[76][77]

In August 2013, following the Snowden leaks, new details about the NSA’s data mining activity were revealed. Reportedly, the majority of emails into or out of the United States are captured at “selected communications links” and automatically analyzed for keywords or other “selectors”. Emails that do not match are deleted.[78]

The utility of such a massive metadata collection in preventing terrorist attacks is disputed. Many studies reveal the dragnet like system to be ineffective. One such report, released by the New America Foundation concluded that after an analysis of 225 terrorism cases, the NSA “had no discernible impact on preventing acts of terrorism.”[79]

Defenders of the program said that while metadata alone can’t provide all the information necessary to prevent an attack, it assures the ability to “connect the dots”[80] between suspect foreign numbers and domestic numbers with a speed only the NSA’s software is capable of. One benefit of this is quickly being able to determine the difference between suspicious activity and real threats.[citation needed] As an example, NSA director General Keith B. Alexander mentioned at the annual Cybersecurity Summit in 2013, that metadata analysis of domestic phone call records after the Boston Marathon bombing helped determine that rumors of a follow-up attack in New York were baseless.[80]

In addition to doubts about its effectiveness, many people argue that the collection of metadata is an unconstitutional invasion of privacy. As of 2015[update], the collection process remains legal and grounded in the ruling from Smith v. Maryland (1979). A prominent opponent of the data collection and its legality is U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon, who issued a report in 2013[81] in which he stated: “I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval…Surely, such a program infringes on ‘that degree of privacy’ that the founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment”.

As of May 7, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that the interpretation of Section 215 of the Patriot Act was wrong and that the NSA program that has been collecting Americans’ phone records in bulk is illegal.[82] It stated that Section 215 cannot be clearly interpreted to allow government to collect national phone data and, as a result, expired on June 1, 2015. This ruling “is the first time a higher-level court in the regular judicial system has reviewed the N.S.A. phone records program.”[83] The replacement law known as the USA Freedom Act, which will enable the NSA to continue to have bulk access to citizens’ metadata but with the stipulation that the data will now be stored by the companies themselves.[83] This change will not have any effect on other Agency procedures – outside of metadata collection – which have purportedly challenged Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights;,[84] including Upstream collection, a mass of techniques used by the Agency to collect and store American’s data/communications directly from the Internet backbone.[85]

Under the Upstream program, the NSA paid telecommunications companies between 9 and 95 million dollars in order to collect data from them.[86] While companies such as Google and Yahoo! claim that they do not provide “direct access” from their servers to the NSA unless under a court order,[87] the NSA had access to emails, phone calls and cellular data users.[88] Under this new ruling, telecommunications companies maintain bulk user metadata on their servers for at least 18 months, to be provided upon request to the NSA.[83] This ruling made the mass storage of specific phone records at NSA datacenters illegal, but it did not rule on Section 215’s constitutionality.[83]

In a declassified document it was revealed that 17,835 phone lines were on an improperly permitted “alert list” from 2006 to 2009 in breach of compliance, which tagged these phone lines for daily monitoring.[89][90][91] Eleven percent of these monitored phone lines met the agency’s legal standard for “reasonably articulable suspicion” (RAS).[89][92] The NSA tracks the locations of hundreds of millions of cellphones per day, allowing it to map people’s movements and relationships in detail.[93] The NSA has been reported to have access to all communications made via Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, YouTube, AOL, Skype, Apple and Paltalk,[94] and collects hundreds of millions of contact lists from personal email and instant messaging accounts each year.[95] It has also managed to weaken much of the encryption used on the Internet (by collaborating with, coercing or otherwise infiltrating numerous technology companies to leave “backdoors” into their systems), so that the majority of encryption is inadverently vulnerable to different forms of attack.[96][97]

Domestically, the NSA has been proven to collect and store metadata records of phone calls,[98] including over 120 million US Verizon subscribers,[99] as well as intercept vast amounts of communications via the internet (Upstream).[94] The government’s legal standing had been to rely on a secret interpretation of the Patriot Act whereby the entirety of US communications may be considered “relevant” to a terrorism investigation if it is expected that even a tiny minority may relate to terrorism.[100] The NSA also supplies foreign intercepts to the DEA, IRS and other law enforcement agencies, who use these to initiate criminal investigations. Federal agents are then instructed to “recreate” the investigative trail via parallel construction.[101]

The NSA also spies on influential Muslims to obtain information that could be used to discredit them, such as their use of pornography. The targets, both domestic and abroad, are not suspected of any crime but hold religious or political views deemed “radical” by the NSA.[102]

According to a report in The Washington Post in July 2014, relying on information provided by Snowden, 90% of those placed under surveillance in the U.S. are ordinary Americans, and are not the intended targets. The newspaper said it had examined documents including emails, text messages, and online accounts that support the claim.[103]

Despite White House claims that these programs have congressional oversight, many members of Congress were unaware of the existence of these NSA programs or the secret interpretation of the Patriot Act, and have consistently been denied access to basic information about them.[104] The United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the secret court charged with regulating the NSA’s activities is, according to its chief judge, incapable of investigating or verifying how often the NSA breaks even its own secret rules.[105] It has since been reported that the NSA violated its own rules on data access thousands of times a year, many of these violations involving large-scale data interceptions.[106] NSA officers have even used data intercepts to spy on love interests;[107] “most of the NSA violations were self-reported, and each instance resulted in administrative action of termination.”[108]

The NSA has “generally disregarded the special rules for disseminating United States person information” by illegally sharing its intercepts with other law enforcement agencies.[109] A March 2009 FISA Court opinion, which the court released, states that protocols restricting data queries had been “so frequently and systemically violated that it can be fairly said that this critical element of the overall … regime has never functioned effectively.”[110][111] In 2011 the same court noted that the “volume and nature” of the NSA’s bulk foreign Internet intercepts was “fundamentally different from what the court had been led to believe”.[109] Email contact lists (including those of US citizens) are collected at numerous foreign locations to work around the illegality of doing so on US soil.[95]

Legal opinions on the NSA’s bulk collection program have differed. In mid-December 2013, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ruled that the “almost-Orwellian” program likely violates the Constitution, and wrote, “I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval. Surely, such a program infringes on ‘that degree of privacy’ that the Founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment. Indeed, I have little doubt that the author of our Constitution, James Madison, who cautioned us to beware ‘the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power,’ would be aghast.”[112]

Later that month, U.S. District Judge William Pauley ruled that the NSA’s collection of telephone records is legal and valuable in the fight against terrorism. In his opinion, he wrote, “a bulk telephony metadata collection program [is] a wide net that could find and isolate gossamer contacts among suspected terrorists in an ocean of seemingly disconnected data” and noted that a similar collection of data prior to 9/11 might have prevented the attack.[113]

At a March 2013 Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, Senator Ron Wyden asked Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, “does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” Clapper replied “No, sir. … Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect, but not wittingly.”[114] This statement came under scrutiny months later, in June 2013, details of the PRISM surveillance program were published, showing that “the NSA apparently can gain access to the servers of nine Internet companies for a wide range of digital data.”[114] Wyden said that Clapper had failed to give a “straight answer” in his testimony. Clapper, in response to criticism, said, “I responded in what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful manner.” Clapper added, “There are honest differences on the semantics of what — when someone says collection to me, that has a specific meaning, which may have a different meaning to him.”[114]

NSA whistler-blower Edward Snowden additionally revealed the existence of XKeyscore, a top secret NSA program that allows the agency to search vast databases of “the metadata as well as the content of emails and other internet activity, such as browser history,” with capability to search by “name, telephone number, IP address, keywords, the language in which the internet activity was conducted or the type of browser used.”[115] XKeyscore “provides the technological capability, if not the legal authority, to target even US persons for extensive electronic surveillance without a warrant provided that some identifying information, such as their email or IP address, is known to the analyst.”[115]

Regarding the necessity of these NSA programs, Alexander stated on June 27 that the NSA’s bulk phone and Internet intercepts had been instrumental in preventing 54 terrorist “events”, including 13 in the US, and in all but one of these cases had provided the initial tip to “unravel the threat stream”.[116] On July 31 NSA Deputy Director John Inglis conceded to the Senate that these intercepts had not been vital in stopping any terrorist attacks, but were “close” to vital in identifying and convicting four San Diego men for sending US$8,930 to Al-Shabaab, a militia that conducts terrorism in Somalia.[117][118][119]

The U.S. government has aggressively sought to dismiss and challenge Fourth Amendment cases raised against it, and has granted retroactive immunity to ISPs and telecoms participating in domestic surveillance.[120][121] The U.S. military has acknowledged blocking access to parts of The Guardian website for thousands of defense personnel across the country,[122][123] and blocking the entire Guardian website for personnel stationed throughout Afghanistan, the Middle East, and South Asia.[124]

An October 2014 United Nations report condemned mass surveillance by the United States and other countries as violating multiple international treaties and conventions that guarantee core privacy rights.[125]

In 2015, the Wikimedia Foundation and several other plaintiffs filed suit against the NSA, Wikimedia Foundation v. NSA, for the violation of their user’s First and Fourth Amendment rights by the Agency’s mass surveillance programs like Upstream.[126] The suit was initially dismissed, but was later found to have plausible and legal standing to its complaints by the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and was remanded. The case is currently awaiting further proceedings at the United States District Court for the District of Maryland.[127]

An exploit, EternalBlue, which is believed to have been created by the NSA, was used in the unprecedented worldwide WannaCry ransomware attack in May 2017. The exploit had been leaked online by a hacking group, The Shadow Brokers, nearly a month prior to the attack. A number of experts have pointed the finger at the NSA’s non-disclosure of the underlying vulnerability, and their loss of control over the EternalBlue attack tool that exploited it. Edward Snowden said that if the NSA had “privately disclosed the flaw used to attack hospitals when they found it, not when they lost it, [the attack] might not have happened”.[128] Wikipedia co-founder, Jimmy Wales, stated that he joined “with Microsoft and the other leaders of the industry in saying this is a huge screw-up by the government … the moment the NSA found it, they should have notified Microsoft so they could quietly issue a patch and really chivvy people along, long before it became a huge problem.”[129]

Operations by the National Security Agency can be divided in three types:

“Echelon” was created in the incubator of the Cold War.[130] Today it is a legacy system, and several NSA stations are closing.[131]

NSA/CSS, in combination with the equivalent agencies in the United Kingdom (Government Communications Headquarters), Canada (Communications Security Establishment), Australia (Defence Signals Directorate), and New Zealand (Government Communications Security Bureau), otherwise known as the UKUSA group,[132] was reported to be in command of the operation of the so-called ECHELON system. Its capabilities were suspected to include the ability to monitor a large proportion of the world’s transmitted civilian telephone, fax and data traffic.[133]

During the early 1970s, the first of what became more than eight large satellite communications dishes were installed at Menwith Hill.[134] Investigative journalist Duncan Campbell reported in 1988 on the “ECHELON” surveillance program, an extension of the UKUSA Agreement on global signals intelligence SIGINT, and detailed how the eavesdropping operations worked.[135] On November 3, 1999 the BBC reported that they had confirmation from the Australian Government of the existence of a powerful “global spying network” code-named Echelon, that could “eavesdrop on every single phone call, fax or e-mail, anywhere on the planet” with Britain and the United States as the chief protagonists. They confirmed that Menwith Hill was “linked directly to the headquarters of the US National Security Agency (NSA) at Fort Meade in Maryland”.[136]

NSA’s United States Signals Intelligence Directive 18 (USSID 18) strictly prohibited the interception or collection of information about “… U.S. persons, entities, corporations or organizations….” without explicit written legal permission from the United States Attorney General when the subject is located abroad, or the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court when within U.S. borders. Alleged Echelon-related activities, including its use for motives other than national security, including political and industrial espionage, received criticism from countries outside the UKUSA alliance.[137][138]

The NSA was also involved in planning to blackmail people with “SEXINT”, intelligence gained about a potential target’s sexual activity and preferences. Those targeted had not committed any apparent crime nor were they charged with one.[139]

In order to support its facial recognition program, the NSA is intercepting “millions of images per day”.[140]

The Real Time Regional Gateway is a data collection program introduced in 2005 in Iraq by NSA during the Iraq War that consisted of gathering all electronic communication, storing it, then searching and otherwise analyzing it. It was effective in providing information about Iraqi insurgents who had eluded less comprehensive techniques.[141] This “collect it all” strategy introduced by NSA director, Keith B. Alexander, is believed by Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian to be the model for the comprehensive worldwide mass archiving of communications which NSA is engaged in as of 2013.[142]

A dedicated unit of the NSA locates targets for the CIA for extrajudicial assassination in the Middle East.[143] The NSA has also spied extensively on the European Union, the United Nations and numerous governments including allies and trading partners in Europe, South America and Asia.[144][145]

In June 2015, Wikileaks published documents, which showed that NSA spied on French companies.[146]

In July 2015, WikiLeaks published documents, which showed that NSA spied on federal German ministries since the 1990s.[147][148] Even Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphones and phone of her predecessors had been intercepted.[149]

Edward Snowden revealed in June 2013 that between February 8 and March 8, 2013, the NSA collected about 124.8billion telephone data items and 97.1billion computer data items throughout the world, as was displayed in charts from an internal NSA tool codenamed Boundless Informant. Initially, it was reported that some of these data reflected eavesdropping on citizens in countries like Germany, Spain and France,[150] but later on, it became clear that those data were collected by European agencies during military missions abroad and were subsequently shared with NSA.

In 2013, reporters uncovered a secret memo that claims the NSA created and pushed for the adoption of the Dual EC DRBG encryption standard that contained built-in vulnerabilities in 2006 to the United States National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the International Organization for Standardization (aka ISO).[151][152] This memo appears to give credence to previous speculation by cryptographers at Microsoft Research.[153] Edward Snowden claims that the NSA often bypasses encryption altogether by lifting information before it is encrypted or after it is decrypted.[152]

XKeyscore rules (as specified in a file xkeyscorerules100.txt, sourced by German TV stations NDR and WDR, who claim to have excerpts from its source code) reveal that the NSA tracks users of privacy-enhancing software tools, including Tor; an anonymous email service provided by the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) in Cambridge, Massachusetts; and readers of the Linux Journal.[154][155]

Linus Torvalds, the founder of Linux kernel, joked during a LinuxCon keynote on September 18, 2013, that the NSA, who are the founder of SELinux, wanted a backdoor in the kernel.[156] However, later, Linus’ father, a Member of the European Parliament (MEP), revealed that the NSA actually did this.[157]

When my oldest son was asked the same question: “Has he been approached by the NSA about backdoors?” he said “No”, but at the same time he nodded. Then he was sort of in the legal free. He had given the right answer, everybody understood that the NSA had approached him.

IBM Notes was the first widely adopted software product to use public key cryptography for clientserver and serverserver authentication and for encryption of data. Until US laws regulating encryption were changed in 2000, IBM and Lotus were prohibited from exporting versions of Notes that supported symmetric encryption keys that were longer than 40 bits. In 1997, Lotus negotiated an agreement with the NSA that allowed export of a version that supported stronger keys with 64 bits, but 24 of the bits were encrypted with a special key and included in the message to provide a “workload reduction factor” for the NSA. This strengthened the protection for users of Notes outside the US against private-sector industrial espionage, but not against spying by the US government.[159][160]

While it is assumed that foreign transmissions terminating in the U.S. (such as a non-U.S. citizen accessing a U.S. website) subject non-U.S. citizens to NSA surveillance, recent research into boomerang routing has raised new concerns about the NSA’s ability to surveil the domestic Internet traffic of foreign countries.[18] Boomerang routing occurs when an Internet transmission that originates and terminates in a single country transits another. Research at the University of Toronto has suggested that approximately 25% of Canadian domestic traffic may be subject to NSA surveillance activities as a result of the boomerang routing of Canadian Internet service providers.[18]

Intercepted packages are opened carefully by NSA employees

A “load station” implanting a beacon

A document included in NSA files released with Glenn Greenwald’s book No Place to Hide details how the agency’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) and other NSA units gain access to hardware. They intercept routers, servers and other network hardware being shipped to organizations targeted for surveillance and install covert implant firmware onto them before they are delivered. This was described by an NSA manager as “some of the most productive operations in TAO because they preposition access points into hard target networks around the world.”[161]

Computers seized by the NSA due to interdiction are often modified with a physical device known as Cottonmouth.[162] Cottonmouth is a device that can be inserted in the USB port of a computer in order to establish remote access to the targeted machine. According to NSA’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) group implant catalog, after implanting Cottonmouth, the NSA can establish Bridging (networking) “that allows the NSA to load exploit software onto modified computers as well as allowing the NSA to relay commands and data between hardware and software implants.”[163]

NSA’s mission, as set forth in Executive Order 12333 in 1981, is to collect information that constitutes “foreign intelligence or counterintelligence” while not “acquiring information concerning the domestic activities of United States persons”. NSA has declared that it relies on the FBI to collect information on foreign intelligence activities within the borders of the United States, while confining its own activities within the United States to the embassies and missions of foreign nations.[164] The appearance of a ‘Domestic Surveillance Directorate’ of the NSA was soon exposed as a hoax in 2013.[165][166]

NSA’s domestic surveillance activities are limited by the requirements imposed by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for example held in October 2011, citing multiple Supreme Court precedents, that the Fourth Amendment prohibitions against unreasonable searches and seizures applies to the contents of all communications, whatever the means, because “a person’s private communications are akin to personal papers.”[167] However, these protections do not apply to non-U.S. persons located outside of U.S. borders, so the NSA’s foreign surveillance efforts are subject to far fewer limitations under U.S. law.[168] The specific requirements for domestic surveillance operations are contained in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA), which does not extend protection to non-U.S. citizens located outside of U.S. territory.[168]

George W. Bush, president during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, approved the Patriot Act shortly after the attacks to take anti-terrorist security measures. Title 1, 2, and 9 specifically authorized measures that would be taken by the NSA. These titles granted enhanced domestic security against terrorism, surveillance procedures, and improved intelligence, respectively. On March 10, 2004, there was a debate between President Bush and White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, Attorney General John Ashcroft, and Acting Attorney General James Comey. The Attorneys General were unsure if the NSA’s programs could be considered constitutional. They threatened to resign over the matter, but ultimately the NSA’s programs continued.[169] On March 11, 2004, President Bush signed a new authorization for mass surveillance of Internet records, in addition to the surveillance of phone records. This allowed the president to be able to override laws such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which protected civilians from mass surveillance. In addition to this, President Bush also signed that the measures of mass surveillance were also retroactively in place.[170]

Under the PRISM program, which started in 2007,[171][172] NSA gathers Internet communications from foreign targets from nine major U.S. Internet-based communication service providers: Microsoft,[173] Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple. Data gathered include email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, VoIP chats such as Skype, and file transfers.

Former NSA director General Keith Alexander claimed that in September 2009 the NSA prevented Najibullah Zazi and his friends from carrying out a terrorist attack.[174] However, this claim has been debunked and no evidence has been presented demonstrating that the NSA has ever been instrumental in preventing a terrorist attack.[175][176][177][178]

Besides the more traditional ways of eavesdropping in order to collect signals intelligence, NSA is also engaged in hacking computers, smartphones and their networks. These operations are conducted by the Tailored Access Operations (TAO) division, which has been active since at least circa 1998.[179]

According to the Foreign Policy magazine, “… the Office of Tailored Access Operations, or TAO, has successfully penetrated Chinese computer and telecommunications systems for almost 15 years, generating some of the best and most reliable intelligence information about what is going on inside the People’s Republic of China.”[180][181]

In an interview with Wired magazine, Edward Snowden said the Tailored Access Operations division accidentally caused Syria’s internet blackout in 2012.[182]

The NSA is led by the Director of the National Security Agency (DIRNSA), who also serves as Chief of the Central Security Service (CHCSS) and Commander of the United States Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) and is the highest-ranking military official of these organizations. He is assisted by a Deputy Director, who is the highest-ranking civilian within the NSA/CSS.

NSA also has an Inspector General, head of the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), a General Counsel, head of the Office of the General Counsel (OGC) and a Director of Compliance, who is head of the Office of the Director of Compliance (ODOC).[183]

Unlike other intelligence organizations such as CIA or DIA, NSA has always been particularly reticent concerning its internal organizational structure.

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National Security Agency – Wikipedia

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Urban Dictionary: NSA

A shared abbreviation that can mean one of many things (the most common): No Strings Attached & National Security Agency.

No Strings Attached is a common English Adverb / expression that refers to no other obligations or responsibilities in a deal. The abrev. NSA has become connected to the casual sex terminology as someone wishing to engage in sexual activities while being free of all responsibilities associated with a romantic relationship.

Many people believe the National Security Agency operates much like the CIA, however, the NSA is a division of the US Defense Department and specializes on the protection of all US Government Communication & Information Systems. The NSA is limited to information surveillance (national and international only) and does not engage in human intelligence activities.

Other such abbreviations: National Shipping Authority, National Standards Association, National Student Association, National Scrabble Association, Niagara Soccer Association, National Scrabble Association, etc. etc.

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Urban Dictionary: NSA

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