surveillance

NSA's reported Huawei hack gives glimpse of agency's role in 'cyber Cold War'

A new report based on the trove of secret NSA documents leaked by Edward Snowden gives a glimpse of the agency's role in the cyber-intrigues taking place between the US and China, with files showing that the NSA hacked into Chinese router-maker Huawei's servers with the hope of gaining info on government plans and of exploiting the company's products to spy on other foreign rivals.

The New York Times reports that the NSA "pried its way into the servers in Huawei's sealed headquarters in Shenzhen, China's industrial heart" and "obtained information about … Read more

Obama talks spying with Facebook's Zuckerberg, Google's Schmidt

As expected, President Obama met with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, and other tech executives Friday afternoon to discuss efforts to reform the National Security Agency's controversial surveillance programs.

"The President used this opportunity to update the CEOs on our progress in implementing the principles and reforms he announced on January 17, including the new Presidential Directive he issued to govern our intelligence activities that will ensure that we take into account our security requirements, but also our alliances, our trade and investment relationships, including the concerns of our companies, … Read more

Google: No, no. You've got Glass all wrong

Something I've learned over the last few years is that Google is always right.

It criticizes the NSA for snooping, when it quite happily crawls all over your e-mails. But it's right, because it's for your own good.

It pumps ads at you even when you're writing e-mails, but it's right to do so. Because these ads are far better than all the other ads you'll see on the Web.

And then there's Google Glass, which Google insists isn't a creepy, awkward intrusion into public and private life. So Google must be right.

Well, except that those who have so far resisted a Google chip being implanted into their brains still feel that Glass might be for the self-righteous, rather than the normal human being.

Of late, Google seems to have adopted a crouching posture, as the criticisms and humor have rained its way. … Read more

Obama to meet again with tech leaders over surveillance

President Obama plans to meet with a select group of technology CEOs on Friday to discuss "issues of privacy, technology, and intelligence," a White House official told Politico.

A full list of chief executives was not made available by the White House, but industry sources told Politico that Google, Facebook, and Yahoo had been invited to the meeting. CNET has contacted those companies for comment on their participation and will update this report when we learn more.

It's the second such meeting Obama has held with Silicon Valley executives in recent months over controversial US electronic surveillance … Read more

Gmail: Encryption is now mandatory

Google has removed your ability to get out of encrypting your Gmail, the company announced Thursday.

This follows a 2010 decision to make HTTPS the default for Gmail communications, but up until today Google had given users the ability to not use encryption. Four years ago, the company explained the opt-out as necessary because encryption could "make your mail slower."

"The team has been working hard to mitigate any performance costs, which now puts us in a position where it no longer makes sense to allow HTTP connections," a Google spokesperson told CNET. "The large … Read more

NSA top lawyer says tech giants knew about data collection

The top lawyer for the National Security Agency and others from the Obama administration made it clear to the US government's independent oversight board that tech titans knew about government surveillance while it was going on.

NSA general counsel Rajesh De told the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board on Wednesday that tech titans were aware that the NSA was collecting communications and related metadata both for the NSA's "PRISM" program and for "upstream" communications crossing the Internet. PRISM is a surveillance program designed to collect and process "foreign intelligence" that passes … Read more

NSA can reportedly record every call made in a foreign country

The National Security Agency has the capability to record "100 percent" of the telephone calls placed in a foreign country and play them back up to a month later, according to a report Tuesday by The Washington Post.

Known as MYSTIC, the surveillance system dates back to 2009, according to documents supplied to the newspaper by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The program, which wasn't fully operational until 2011, intercepts and records and stores billions of calls for 30 days on a rolling buffer that purges the oldest recordings as new ones arrive, according to one classified … Read more

How to spy on your lover, the smartphone way

Trust is like love.

You want to believe in it, but then your rational side kicks in and dents your faith.

Here at the Ministry of Failed Relationships, we understand this. There is nothing worse than committing yourself to someone who poses as your soulmate, only to discover that their soul has drunkenly mated with a passing half-sized halfwit.

One company has -- perhaps inadvertently -- stumbled upon a notion that might ease your worried brow. Or confirm your dearest fear. For it is now offering phones that have built-in spyware.

mSpy created its software with a mind to, say, … Read more

Woz: Snowden is a hero and Apple is the purest of all

I don't want to go all Apple vs. Microsoft on you, but we have a national security situation.

The eminences grises of these two famous companies have come out on opposing sides of one of today's great political debates.

Earlier this week, Microsoft's Bill Gates told Rolling Stone of Edward Snowden: "I think he broke the law, so I certainly wouldn't characterize him as a hero."

Just in case you didn't quite get what he was saying, he added: "You won't find much admiration from me."

However, on Thursday, Apple … Read more

Man arrested for wiretapping after filming police officer

We're all hypocrites at heart. It's how we manage it that gets us through the day.

Take those who are charged with surveilling others. They don't always warm to being surveilled themselves.

Indeed, one police officer in Fall River, Mass., was allegedly miffed when a bystander, George Thompson, filmed him as he was talking on his flip phone.

Thompson says the officer was talking loudly and cursing. He also says the officer was on duty.

What happened next is that when the officer noticed Thompson had taken out his iPhone to film him, he allegedly stormed over … Read more