The German weekly Die Zeit disclosed documents that reveal how the German Intelligence did a deal with the NSA to get the access to the surveillance platform XKeyscore.

Internal documents show that Germany's domestic intelligence agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), received the software program XKeyscore from the NSA in return of data from Germany.

Back in 2o11, the NSA demonstrated the capabilities of the XKeyscore platform of the BfV agency. After two years of negotiation, the BfV signed an agreement to receive the NSA spyware software and install it for analyzing metadata collected on German citizens.

In return, the German Agency promised to share metadata collected.

The NSA tool collects 'nearly everything a user does on the internet', XKeyscore gives 'widest-reaching' collection of online data analyzing the content of emails, social media, and browsing history.

In 2013, documents leaked by Edward Snowden explained that a tool named DNI Presenter allows the NSA to read the content of stored emails and it also enables the intelligence analysts to track the user's activities on Facebook through a system dubbed XKeyscore.

XKeyscore map

According to Die Zeit, the document "Terms of Reference" stated: "The BfV will: To the maximum extent possible share all data relevant to NSA's mission".

The BfV didn't provide the details of the agreement to Germany's data protection commissioner, nor it informed the Parliamentary Control Panel.

The report highlights that Bundesnachrichtendienst BfV is not allowed to set up a mass surveillance activity, differently from the BND, instead it can spy suspect individuals.

The agreement with the NSA doesn't allow BfV to spy on American suspect individuals.

"The term US persons includes US citizens, an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the US, groups and associations a substantial number of the members of which are US citizens, or corporations incorporated in the US," reads the Terms of Reference.

Die Zeit sustains that the agreement "proves what exactly German intelligence agencies give to the NSA in exchange for technical support. We believe it potentially violates the fundamental rights of German citizens, and that the danger of such violations remains clear and present."

The collaboration between the German Intelligence and the NSA is not new, in April, it was reported that the BND agency had helped the NSA spy on the European Commission and French government with the support of the Deutsche Telekom.

It is important to remark that the access granted to the BfV is a lower level of access compared to the one assigned to the Intelligence agencies belonging to the "Five Eyes" alliance.

Russian lawyers have filed a complaint calling for restricting the sale of Windows 10 in Russia, the action urges because the newborn OS spy on users violating Russian laws.

Starting July 29, and for the next 12 months, the new Windows 10 operating system can be installed for free on computers running previous versions of Windows OS, it has been estimated that more than 14 million users installed it within the first 24 hours of the release.

Moscow lawyers report Windows 10 data privacy risks to the Prosecutor General, the new Windows OS collects user location, credentials, browsing history.

The lawyers affirm that the uploading of the information to Microsoft's cloud, debated by many experts and privacy advocates, violates current Russian privacy legislation.

Of course, there are also groups of experts that defend Microsoft and its technology. The Russian Association for Electronic Communications sustains that it is possible to avoid Windows 10 collecting user data by applying the necessary settings, in other words it doesn't violate any privacy law.

Vadim Solovyov, a Communist Party deputy called for the Prosecutor General's Office to review Microsoft's technology due to the accusations of espionage on its users.

Solovyov sustains that Windows OSs are the primary choice for many Russian government agencies, for this reason it is important to assess the Microsoft technology and information circulating on the Windows 10 OS demonstrates that it could represent a threat to homeland security. The adoption of Windows 10 in government agencies could result in the leakage of classified information.

A spokesman for Microsoft denied the allegations to RIA Novosti.

"The new operating system offers users the choice of how they want it to handle their data and users can change the settings at any point," a Microsoft spokesman said a Microsoft spokesman to the news agency.

The White House rejected a call Tuesday to pardon Edward Snowden, saying the former intelligence contractor should "be judged by a jury of his peers" for leaking US government secrets.

The US administration re-iterated its tough stance against the exiled fugitive, whom supporters regard as a whistleblower, in response to a petition on the White House website signed by more than 167,000 people.

Lisa Monaco, an advisor on homeland security and counterterrorism, said Snowden's "dangerous decision to steal and disclose classified information had severe consequences for the security of our country and the people who work day in and day out to protect it."

She said that Snowden, who has been granted asylum in Russia after he leaked documents on vast US surveillance programs to journalists, is "running away from the consequences of his actions."

"If he felt his actions were consistent with civil disobedience, then he should do what those who have taken issue with their own government do: challenge it, speak out, engage in a constructive act of protest, and -- importantly -- accept the consequences of his actions," she wrote.

"He should come home to the United States, and be judged by a jury of his peers -- not hide behind the cover of an authoritarian regime."

The US administration has branded Snowden a hacker and a traitor who endangered lives by revealing the extent of the National Security Agency spying program.

But his revelation that the NSA siphons vast quantities of telephone data from private US citizens struck a cord and Congress has begun to amend once secret laws.

Snowden has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for the second year in a row and has received a string of international awards for free speech and civil liberties.

The petition took up this call.

"Edward Snowden is a national hero and should be immediately issued a a full, free, and absolute pardon for any crimes he has committed or may have committed related to blowing the whistle on secret NSA surveillance programs," it said.

Earlier this year, Congress passed a law which requires the NSA to end bulk data collection. The administration said Monday the NSA will stop a

In spite of self-congratulatory pats on the back from several corners of the security world, this week's decision from the Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) to rewrite the proposed U.S. implementation of the Wassenaar Arrangement rules was an expected outcome—albeit an unusual one.

A 60-day comment period ended on July 20 and an outpouring of opposition from more than 300 technology companies and individual researchers against the first round of rules helped sway BIS. The rules, most argued, were too broad, sweeping up legitimate technologies such as penetration testing software, as well as encompassing white-hat research that involves the development of proof of concept exploits for new vulnerabilities.

The intent of the rules is to prevent not only the sale, but also support of, so-called intrusion software developed by companies such as Gamma International (FinFisher) or Hacking Team (Remote Control System). Intrusion software is used by law enforcement agencies and government agencies, including those in sanctioned nations, to monitor the activities of citizens, not only introducing computer security and privacy concerns, but also human rights issues as the personal safety of some individuals could be put at risk through the use of these tools. Some experts said that vague language in the rules' first draft demonstrated a lack of understanding of computer security, in particular of how terms such as zero-day apply in this context.

Collin Anderson, a security researcher in the Washington, D.C., area who has studied Wassenaar and export controls, was among those who expected BIS to come out with a second proposal and another comment period, calling the first round an "information-seeking process." He points out that in the history of BIS and the implementation of Wassenaar rules there generally isn't a proposed rule or a comment process, and that this was a much more engaged process between the affected parties than the norm.

"I think [BIS] understood and was reflective of the process and comments made that they understood at a certain point they didn't have the information they needed," Anderson said. "They understood they had hit a limit in their ability to understand the impact to the security industry."

The new rules proposal could show up anywhere in the next couple of months through the next scheduled Wassenaar Plenary in December. Until then experts urge the security community to continue to work with BIS in refining critical issues and avoiding some of the landmines that plagued the first round.

"So this is a minor win, but only a first step. The real hard work comes now," said Nate Cardozo, staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). Cardozo said EFF has been engaging with the Commerce Department since May 20 when the first draft was published.

"What we're hoping for is a rethink on how export controls on software can work in a way that protects human rights, which this rule would not have accomplished," Cardozo said, in addition to protecting security research, academics and innovators. "We have some thoughts on how this export control regime might look different: We want to define the end uses and end users you want to control sales and support to."

Cardozo applauds the security industry's outreach to BIS in an attempt to educate them and lobby for rules that balance goals on both ends of the spectrum. He too saw a knowledge gap for BIS and that its focus on zero-day development is not in line with how the intrusion software they're trying to control works.

"[BIS] pretty clearly didn't understand the actual market for the type of software they're trying to get at. There's this whole focus in the proposed rule on zero days, but HackingTeam and FinFisher have a couple of zero days but that's not what they rely on," Cardozo said. "The sorts of software they're worried about relies on old exploits and social engineering. This focus on zero day out of BIS was weird and frankly came from NSA which is focused on zero day."

Moving forward, experts in the U.S. figure to be involved in crafting the next draft of the rules.

"I'm hopeful and looking forward to being part of the solution of helping with the noble goal of protecting human rights, while not hindering defense," said Katie Moussouris, chief policy officer at HackerOne. "The rule as it was written would have harmed internet defense far more than offense could have done alone.

"From a big picture standpoint, the technical security community needs to provide constructive feedback to help point out where these regulations and laws have strayed so far from their intent that they do more harm than good. A little empathy will go a long way to keep the communication lines open."

They say the Senate's CISA cyberthreat information sharing bill would allow businesses to share too much information

U.S. President Barack Obama should oppose legislation intended to let businesses share cyberthreat information with each other and with government agencies because the bill would allow the sharing of too much personal information, a coalition of digital rights groups and security experts said.

The coalition of 39 digital rights and privacy groups and 29 security experts urged Obama to threaten to veto theCybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), a bill that may come to the Senate floor for a vote by early August. CISA would protect from customer lawsuits those businesses that share cyberthreat information.

"CISA fails to protect users' personal information," the coalition said in a letter to Obama, sent Monday. "It allows vast amounts of personal data to be shared with the government, even that which is not necessary to identify or respond to a cybersecurity threat."

The groups compared CISA to the controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), a cyberthreat sharing bill that the House of Representatives approved in 2013. CISPA failed to become law after Obama threatened to veto it.

Backers of CISA and similar bills say the sharing of cyberthreat information is necessary for businesses and government agencies to respond to ongoing attacks.

"We cannot continue to have citizens' personal information needlessly exposed to foreign adversaries and criminals," Senator Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican and main sponsor of CISA, said in June. "We can no longer simply watch Americans' personal information continue to be compromised."

A spokeswoman for Burr didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on the letter opposing CISA.

CISA has several problems, the groups said in their letter: It would allow government agencies to use information shared by businesses to investigate crimes unrelated to cyberattacks, and it allows the cyberthreat information to be shared with the National Security Agency and other surveillance agencies.

In addition, CISA would "undermine Internet security" by allowing businesses to deploy countermeasures during cyberattacks, even if those defensive actions would otherwise be illegal under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Among the groups signing the letter to Obama were the American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute.

Security experts signing the letter included Ronald Rivest, a computer science professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Bruce Schneier, a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University; and Dan Wallach, a computer science professor at Rice University.

Fight the Future, one of the groups signing the letter, has set up, encouraging U.S. residents to call or fax senators in opposition to the bill.

CISA is a "dirty deal that turns Facebook and Google into government spies that are totally immune from the law," the group said on the website.

"Congress is so out of touch with modern technology that they're introducing vulnerabilities into the Internet they can't even begin to fix," the group said. "If they're going to be this 1984-surveillance backwards, we're going to turn any text or tweet into faxes to the whole U.S. Senate until they stop. Hopefully that's old enough tech they can understand."

A New York judge ruled Tuesday that Facebook has no legal standing to challenge the constitutionality of search warrants served on its users, highlighting the limits to online companies' abilities to protect user privacy. Last year, Facebook appealed a court decision requiring it to hand over data, including photos and private messages, relating to 381 user accounts. The data was sought as part of an investigation by the New York County District Attorney's office into a disability fraud case. Other companies including Google and Microsoft filed briefs supporting Facebook's move, as well as the American Civil Liberties Union. In her decision on Tuesday, Judge Dianne Renwick of the New York State Supreme Court said Facebook has no constitutional or statutory right to challenge a warrant before it's issued. Facebook had argued that the warrants function like subpoenas, because they require the company to be responsible for producing data and delivering it to the government. It said the federal Stored Communications Act gave it the right to challenge any order or subpoena served upon it. That argument rested on a misinterpretation of the law, Renwick wrote. The ruling comes as major technology companies tout their efforts to protect users from government data requests, which became a greater concern after Edward Snowden leaked information about government surveillance programs. Renwick said she understood Facebook's concerns about the scope of bulk warrants issued, and the district attorney's right to retain the data indefinitely. "Facebook users share more intimate personal information through their Facebook accounts than may be revealed through rummaging about one's home," she wrote. A Facebook spokesman said the company was considering whether to appeal the decision. "We continue to believe that overly broad search warrants -- granting the government the ability to keep hundreds of people's account information indefinitely -- are unconstitutional and raise important concerns about the privacy of people's online information," he said. Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service.

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