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Covernames Versus Code / Strategy Versus Tactics

From the New York Times:

Mr. Snowden’s cascade of disclosures to journalists and his defiant public stance drew far more media coverage than this new breach. But Mr. Snowden released code words, while the Shadow Brokers have released the actual code; if he shared what might be described as battle plans, they have loosed the weapons themselves. Created at huge expense to American taxpayers, those cyberweapons have now been picked up by hackers from North Korea to Russia and shot back at the United States and its allies.

While the revelation of code facilitates a more immediate kind of repurposing and attack, I think that the Shadow Brokers have tended to reveal tactical information versus the strategic information released by Snowden. Few have done the requisite work to actually pull together the comprehensive narratives that emerge in the Snowden documents and, instead, have focused on specific programs or tools. Those few of us who have comprehensively analyzed his documents, however, now possess insights into strategic thinking, decision making, and resource allocation of the Five Eyes intelligence agencies. The long term value of such information is just as, if not more, valuable than code drops.

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Intelligence experts urge Obama to end Edward Snowden’s ‘untenable exile’

Intelligence experts urge Obama to end Edward Snowden’s ‘untenable exile’:

Fifteen former staff members of the Church committee, the 1970s congressional investigation into illegal activity by the CIA and other intelligence agencies, have written jointly to Obama calling on him to end Snowden’s “untenable exile in Russia, which benefits nobody”. Over eight pages of tightly worded argument, they remind the president of the positive debate that Snowden’s disclosures sparked – prompting one of the few examples of truly bipartisan legislative change in recent years.

They also remind Obama of the long record of leniency that has been shown by his own and previous administrations towards those who have broken secrecy laws. They even recall how their own Church committee revealed that six US presidents, from Franklin Roosevelt to Richard Nixon, were guilty of abusing secret powers.

“There is no question that Snowden broke the law. But previous cases in which others violated the same law suggest leniency. And most importantly, Snowden’s actions were not for personal benefit, but were intended to spur reform. And they did so,” the signatories write.

While anything is possible, I have pretty strong doubts that a pardon is coming from Obama. His Whitehouse has aggressively expanded the prosecution of whistleblowers and I’ve never, once, gotten the feeling that Obama was genuinely receptive to Snowden’s actions.

In many ways, several years of US foreign policy has been disrupted — and continues, to this date, to be disrupted — by Snowden’s actions. Given that this has an impact on Obama’s daily briefings and the capabilities of US foreign diplomats I can’t imagine that Obama is likely to pardon Snowden. In fact, I suspect that Obama would argue that if had Snowden just revealed domestic surveillance activities then a pardon might be forthcoming: it’s the revelation of foreign activities that presumably prompt an executive body to assert that harm had in fact occurred based on ability to directly influence world affairs.

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Partnership between NSA and telecoms pose both security and privacy risk, experts say

Partnership between NSA and telecoms pose both security and privacy risk, experts say:

Speculation remains as to whether the programs still exist, but as Cohn said: “The story that [these documents] tell is [the NSA is] just grabbing more, and more, and more, and more. Nothing in this six-year span is of them getting anything less. [So our] best guess is that trajectory continued.”

Christopher Parsons, postdoctoral fellow, Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs, seconded Cohn’s thoughts and expressed surprise that no documents have indicated any change in programs.

Even if Americans aren’t exactly concerned about their data, per se, Parsons reminded that beyond losing its citizens’ trust, the U.S. government loses diplomatic credibility through these leaked documents. The government can’t argue for a free and open internet if it monitors foreigners and its own citizens, he said.

“If you use the internet, and the data goes through the U.S., the government is spying on it,” he said.

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A Crisis of Accountability — The Canadian Situation

A Crisis of Accountability — The Canadian Situation:

The significance of Edward Snowden’s disclosures is an oft-debated point; how important is the information that he released? And, equally important, what have been the implications of his revelations? Simon Davies, in association with the Institute of Information Law of the University of Amsterdam and Law, Science, Technology & Social Studies at the Vrie Universiteit of Brussels, has collaborated with international experts to respond to the second question in a report titled A Crisis of Accountability: A global analysis of the impact of the Snowden revelations.

You can read about the state of Canada, as well as the rest of the report, over at Technology, Thoughts, and Trinkets.

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34 International Experts Weigh in on Mass Surveillance on Snowden Anniversary

34 International Experts Weigh in on Mass Surveillance on Snowden Anniversary:

Today, a group of over 400 organizations and experts, along with 350,000 individuals, continue to rally in support of the 13 International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance (the Necessary and Proportionate Principles) a year to the day after Edward Snowden first revealed how governments are monitoring individuals on a massive scale. The international experts who supported the Necessary and Proportionate Principles has issued a press release containing quotes from professions weighing in on the need to end the mass surveillance.

Christopher Parsons, Postdoctoral Fellow, Citizen Lab, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto (Canada):“The past year has revealed that dragnet state surveillance has enveloped the world despite our nations’ privacy and data protection laws, laws that have demonstrably been diminished, undermined, and evaded by privacy-hostile governments over the course of the past decade. It is critical that we take the initiative and work to better endow our privacy commissioners and data protection regulators with the powers they need to investigate and terminate programs that inappropriately or unlawfully invade and undermine our individual and collective rights to privacy.”