These Senators Are Not Happy With The NSA’s Collection Of Webcam Images

    February 28, 2014
    Zach Walton
    Comments are off for this post.

On Thursday, The Guardian reported that the NSA had given legitimacy to all the conspiracy theorists who cover up the webcams on their laptops with the reveal of Optic Nerve. The program, carried out by both the NSA and Britain’s GCHQ, collected and stored images from the webcams of innocent users. If that wasn’t enough, the report also revealed that the NSA was looking into intercepting video feeds from Xbox 360 Kinect users.

As is expected by now, a number of senators are very unhappy with this report.

Senators Ron Wyden, Mark Udall and Martin Heinrich issued a joint statement today condemning Optic Nerve. The three say the program shows “a breathtaking lack of respect for the privacy and civil liberties of law-abiding Americans.”

Once again, the argument here is not that surveillance systems shouldn’t exist. They should, and are helpful when targeted directly at wrongdoers. The senators feel, however, that programs like Optic Nerve largely overstep the boundaries that should be in place.

Here’s the rest of their statement:

In recent decades, largely isolated national communications systems have been replaced by a single, globally interconnected communications network. While this has had incredibly positive benefits, it has also dramatically increased the likelihood of innocent Americans being swept up in intelligence collection nominally aimed at foreigners. It is becoming clearer and clearer that more needs to be done to ensure that “foreign” intelligence collection does not intrude unnecessarily on the rights of law-abiding people or needlessly undermine the competitiveness of America’s leading industries.

We commend Chairman Feinstein for her decision to conduct a comprehensive review of ongoing surveillance programs, and we plan to thoroughly investigate these most recent reports as that review goes forward. Any involvement of US agencies in the alleged activities reported today will need to be closely scrutinized.”

Despite their commendation, the senators should be wary of any review coming from Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein. She’s proven time and time again that she’s squarely on the side of expanded surveillance and has defended the NSA at every turn. Even her proposed bill would do nothing to stop the NSA’s surveillance, but rather codify it in law while promising just a little more transparency in return.

So, what’s next for Wyden and company? The best thing they can be doing is promoting Sen. Patrick Leahy’s USA Freedom Act. The bill would put a stop to the NSA’s widespread collection of Americans’ phone records, reform the FISA court and fix other areas of the NSA’s surveillance programs. It was referred to committee back in October of last year, but it’s made no progress since then. Hopefully this will spur on senators to renew the fight for its passage.

Image via Senator Ron Wyden/Facebook

  • xxx43

    The NSA and IRS are all connected I got a call claiming to be”American” Mike from “The Microsoft Team ” Here is my story All my Technical support calls were from Cincinnati. First time ever they were not from india

    Don’t let them get by with the line ”

    We only go after legitimate targets

    I am a teacher and they went after me

    I helped a friend write a complaint to a Judicial Ethics Commission pointing out
    blatant fraud, and unethical conduct by a Judge and Amicus Attorney.

    Approximately 4 days before the complaint was to be filed, I had 3 windows based computers on my home network rendered to Digit zeros with with evidence documents and other exhibits for the complaint destroyed.

    At the time, I didn’t really know what happened and just assumed it was a virus that hit my network and all I needed to do was to do were reinstalls of the computer operating systems and all would be well. I was wrong. Even to this day, I continue to have network and computer problems.

    After the network attack, the windows computers were rendered as junk. I ordered a new Macbook Pro thinking that a new computer would solve the network problems. The network problems continued. Shortly after the new Macbook Pro was delivered to my home from the Apple online store, I discovered that the EFI Firmware Password had been set before it was delivered. Somebody had tampered with this computer before it arrived at my home. Apple stated that they did not know how this would have happened and they agreed to replace the computer with the one that I
    am now using.

    I continued to have problems.The recent NSA leaks confirmed my suspicions that I was targeted, but I still have a hard time believing that the government would do such a thing.

    After the Snowden revelations, I was determined that I was going to find out for sure and press the issue with Apple. I could never get Apple to do any followup calls to address my issues. Before this
    ordeal, I knew very little about computers, but I have educated myself to an extent and Apple cannot or will not answer my questions. When no Sr. Apple Technician in the United States will return my calls, it seems that all my calls to Applecare are routed to Applecare in Canada.

    Recently a Sr. Level Apple Advisor in Canada stated to me that when Apple initially replaced the computer which had the firmware tampered with, they replaced it with a computer that did not have the standard operating system that it should have had. The replacement computer had a modified operating system installed.

    Why would Apple do this? This is the question that I asked the Sr. Level Apple Advisor and he said he did not know why this was done nor did he know why or how the firmware was tampered with.
    This has to stop