It's been a rough couple of days for any freedom loving American. Two big stories broke in relation to the NSA scandal and neither bodes well for the future of privacy in this country. Yesterday's big story came from CNET. That is significant in and of itself because CNET is not exactly what you would call a site for political news junkies. CNET is more for the computer savvy techies.
They are reporting that the feds are applying intense pressure to gather passwords. CNET reports:
The U.S. government has demanded that major Internet companies divulge users' stored passwords, according to two industry sources familiar with these orders, which represent an escalation in surveillance techniques that has not previously been disclosed.
If the government is able to determine a person's password, which is typically stored in encrypted form, the credential could be used to log in to an account to peruse confidential correspondence or even impersonate the user. Obtaining it also would aid in deciphering encrypted devices in situations where passwords are reused.
"I've certainly seen them ask for passwords," said one Internet industry source who spoke on condition of anonymity. "We push back."
A second person who has worked at a large Silicon Valley company confirmed that it received legal requests from the federal government for stored passwords. Companies "really heavily scrutinize" these requests, the person said. "There's a lot of 'over my dead body.'"
Some of the government orders demand not only a user's password but also the encryption algorithm and the so-called salt, according to a person familiar with the requests. A salt is a random string of letters or numbers used to make it more difficult to reverse the encryption process and determine the original password. Other orders demand the secret question codes often associated with user accounts.
A Microsoft spokesperson would not say whether the company has received such requests from the government. But when asked whether Microsoft would divulge passwords, salts, or algorithms, the spokesperson replied: "No, we don't, and we can't see a circumstance in which we would provide it."
Of course no one is going to admit to providing such info. It's bad for business. The CNET article is enough to raise serious questions. And even if some of the big providers are saying "no way," you can bet that they aren't all saying that. There is no such thing as internet privacy. Keep that in mind going forward.
This story was not shocking but it certainly shows how serious our government is about obtaining data when they want it. They can say what they want about Snowden but it appears he was onto something much bigger than what we already know.
As if this was not bad enough, on Wednesday the Republican House members sold us out. As if you don't already have enough proof that we no longer have two distinct political parties, try to make any conservative swallow this pill. As reported by Freedom Outpost:
On Wednesday, The House of Representatives voted down an amendment by Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) that would have slashed funding for the National Security Agency's counterterrorism efforts, which have recently come under attack due to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden's exposing what the agency is doing in spying on American citizens' records without a warrant. The amendment, which would have been useful to rein in NSA's spying program on innocent Americans, was narrowly defeated 217-205.
It is not the fact that the amendment was defeated that was as alarming as to how it was defeated. Check out the final vote totals.
- Democrats 111 for and 83 against.
- Republicans 94 for and 134 against.
Translation… The Republicans squashed this, not the Democrats. The Democrats wanted it. I immediately checked my own group of All Stars to see how they voted. Gowdy and Stockman are still good in my book but Issa voted against it. What? Come on Darrell.
Yes, we all heard the passionate plea from Michele Bachman, who seemed to be the only one with the guts to explain a "Nay" vote, but do those arguments wash?
Do we need to defeat Al Qaeda and keep our citizens safe? Absolutely.
Do I think that this budget is being used for that? Not really.
A slash in the budget might keep them from worrying about who Weiner is sexting and keep them more focused on finding idiots like the Tsarnaev Brothers who want us all dead. That is just my opinion but I think it is shared by many.
One thing is for certain. Americans have few allies on the other side and Big Brother is watching.
I don't think it's quite fair that the federal government should have my passwords when I can't even remember some of them. Maybe I can send the NSA a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain my lost passwords.
I don't think it's consistent to vote against budget cuts for a government agency that has a strangle hold on our freedom. Certainly not when our country is in such dire economic straits. It doesn't make sense. They found a place to curb government waste and they ignored it.
What do you think?
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