How to listen to, and delete, your Google Now voice history

Google might be eavesdropping more than you had originally imagined, though not on purpose.

Since June 2015, Google has been storing personal data on its users on a website, where users only have access to their own information. The feature works a bit like a digital diary, storing web searches, YouTube history, and (you guessed it!) Google Voice Search history.

The issue with Voice Search is that the system can pick up the words “Ok Google” (or words that sound like ‘Ok Google’) from a rather long distance. Accidentally activating voice-powered AI, from Google to Siri to Alexa, is inevitable.

But since Google stores that information and makes it available to users, it’s easy to see just how many conversations stored on the system were unintentionally recorded. This is especially true for Android users, who have their phone on them all the time.

Google likely stores these conversations for a number of reasons, like giving users access to their voice searches as well as learning from this recorded natural language to improve the service.

In any case, you have total control over your stored search history here, and can have a listen to yourself or delete unwanted recordings as you wish.

Given that this search history feature has been around for a year, there is probably plenty of information to check out about yourself.

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Online Actions That Spark NSA Monitoring

The Browsing Habits That Spark NSA Monitoring

Simply using certain encryption services or investigating alternatives to Microsoft Windows could get you placed under surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA) and other intelligence organizations, according to a new report.

Utilizing encryption solutions such as TOR could result in monitoring by the NSA and its allies, including Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), according to the report in the German me­dia out­let Ta­gesschau.

The NSA tracks people with a surveillance tool called XKeyscore.

“Anyone who is determined to be using Tor is also targeted for long-term surveillance and retention,” Corey Doctorow wrote at the BoingBoing.net blog.

The German outlet said computer experts watched the XKeyscore code and found that the NSA was constantly monitoring TOR users on servers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, the National Journal reported.

Learn How To Become Invisible In Today’s Surveillance State!

TOR is a program that lets a person stay private by routing communications through computers and servers all over the world. It makes it much harder for the NSA and other agencies to track.

Other Behaviors the NSA Regards as Dangerous

The German report listed a number of seemingly innocent and harmless behaviors that can trigger NSA surveillance, the National Journal said. They include:

  • Going to Linux Journal, a popular forum for the open-sourced operating system Linux. The NSA apparently regards Linux Journal as an extremist forum.
  • Searching for information about Tails, a popular operating system used by human rights advocates.
  • Searching for information about any Windows alternative.
  • Searching for information about online privacy.

“The better able you are at protecting your privacy online, the more suspicious you become,” National Journal’s Paul Tucker wrote.

NSA buildingDoctorow, writing at BoingBoing.net, said the NSA surveillance goes beyond the explainable.

“Tor and Tails have been part of the mainstream discussion of online security, surveillance and privacy for years,” Doctorow wrote. “It’s nothing short of bizarre to place people under suspicion for searching for these terms.”

The NSA, he added, isn’t being honest about its surveillance.

“It’s a dead certainty that people who heard the NSA’s reassurances about ‘targeting’ its surveillance on people who were doing something suspicious didn’t understand that the NSA meant people who’d looked up technical details about systems that are routinely discussed on the front page of every newspaper in the world,” Doctorow wrote.

One expert Doctorow spoke with “suggested that the NSA’s intention here was to separate the sheep from the goats” – that is, to separate people who don’t care about their privacy from people “who have the technical know-how to be private.”

XKeyscore apparently tracks individuals online by using fingerprint triggers that activate whenever certain information is detected.

The Senate’s New ‘Give the NSA All Your Private Info’ Bill Would Make George Orwell Blush

The government needs—nay, it deserves—completely unfettered access to your personal information, because cybersecurity
The Senate's New 'Give the NSA All Your Private Info' Bill Would Make George Orwell Blush

by Charles P. Pierce | Esquire.com | October 30, 2015


​While nobody was watching, the Senate a couple of days ago passed something called the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), which passed at least partly because if you say “Cyber warfare, boogedy-boogedy!” around nervous legislators these days, they’ll pass a bill agreeing to have the NSA plant microchips in their spleens. The bill passed by one of those bipartisan majorities so beloved by Beltway pundits, 74-21. Now it goes to conference, and its final passage may be stalled because of the currently fluid state of the House Republican leadership.

In the Senate, Ron Wyden of Oregon really went to the mattresses over this bill, proposing a slew of privacy-related amendments that barely failed, but that failed nonetheless. To the surprise of absolutely nobody, Dianne Feinstein was the principal Democratic senator whipping support for the bill and, make no mistake, this is a truly awful law. In brief, it not only opens the door to increased trawling through the lives of American citizens by the intelligence community, in many cases, it mandates it.

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The TPP: A Monster Too Big to Fail?

Obama was never about creating more jobs in America. He was and is about Globalism
The TPP: A Monster Too Big to Fail?

Image Credits: citizen.org.

by Jon Rappoport | Infowars.com | October 8, 2015


“For every President, there comes a moment when he does what he has been put into office to do. All prior bets and decisions are off the table. They carry no freight. He knows this. He knows he has no excuses. He has no one to blame. He must win. He must succeed. If he fails, he falls. He falls hard. The electorate? His colleagues, friends, and advisors? His flock of adoring supporters? All dust in the wind. He must do this one thing. He must go as deep and as dark and as crazy as he has to, in order to pull off the crime he was sent in to commit.” (The Underground, Jon Rappoport)

I have written extensively about the Trans-Pacific Partnership Treaty and its destructive effects.(Full archive here.)

Now that all 12 nations have agreed to the text, the US Congress must vote on it. Since the Congress has already granted Obama fast-track authority, no committees will discuss it; no filibustering is permitted; no changes can be made to the text.

Again I stress: Obama was put in the White House to make TPP and similar treaties come to fruition. Failure is not an option.

Obama’s mentor on foreign policy, Zbigniew Brzezinski, is David Rockefeller’s right-hand man. And David is Globalism personified.

The TPP elevates mega-corporations beyond even their present status: In a nutshell, any threats against international corporate piracy would be adjudicated in private corporate tribunals—so the outcome is completely predictable.

And as with all other Globalist trade treaties (NAFTA, CAFTA, GATT, etc.), more jobs in industrialized nations will move to countries where slave labor is standard operating procedure.

Obama was never about creating more jobs in America. He was and is about Globalism.

Otherwise, there was no way he could have advanced beyond the Illinois State Senate, in his artificial career.

The pressure on him now is enormous. With fiery bits of protest against the TPP springing up in the US Senate and House, with Trump and Bernie railing against the Treaty, Obama is counting his chickens (votes) every day.

His people are on the phones, holding private meetings with Representatives and Senators, coordinating their strategies with corporate lobbyists.

It’s all hands on deck. Deals are being struck. Promises are being made. Markers are being called in.

“You want a bridge? You want a tunnel? You want your boy to get into Harvard? You want a new hooker? You want these juicy photos of you to remain hidden? You want the cocaine thing to go away forever? You want that house in the Bahamas?”

Whatever it takes. The TPP must pass.

You can bet the NSA is in on this one. They’ve been spying on Congressional members for years. Because those members might be terrorists? Are you kidding? Whatever NSA has on recalcitrant Representatives and Senators can now be used to twist their arms.

And members of Congress know that, if by some chance the TPP fails to pass, and they helped to defeat it, they’ll be prime targets the next time Obama tries to ram it through. They’ll be naked in the rain, alone, at the mercy of greater forces.

For Obama, for David Rockefeller, for Brzezinski, for the Trilateral Commission, the CFR, Bilderberger, and the presidents and premiers and prime ministers of the 12 TPP countries, this is The Big One.

Then…there is this little thing called the Internet. New torpedoes from independent news sites are hitting the TPP every day. It turns out that the world is not entirely asleep. What a revelation. In the old days, the TPP would have passed without a whisper or a whimper. But now…

And as the unemployment situation-disaster grows worse in a number of industrial nations—in large part owing to past Globalist trade treaties—it’s become harder to sell the next great treaty that will further sink workers and economies. Unions are feeling the squeeze. How can they support the TPP when their millions of members see the looming horror show?

The primary lie about Globalism is obvious to anyone who has eyes. How can our august leaders pretend that shutting down domestic factories and businesses and sending all those jobs to distant nations is a good thing? How can these leaders tell us that the ability to buy cheap imports is a wonderful outcome, when millions of people here at home have been thrown out of work?

The Globalists are sitting at the table shoving in all their chips on a bet that is a transparent bluff—and the question is, who is going to call them on it?

Obama is aging rapidly in the Oval Office. He has been told many times, from above, that this, the TPP, is his moment. This is when he pays off his debt to those who put him in the Presidency. This is not a Ferguson moment or a Charleston moment or an immigration moment or a Common Core moment or a Syria moment or a gun-control moment. This is his moment to sell a supreme number-one lie. This is a test of his political skills and his allegiance to the forces of destruction.

This is it.

He is supposed to take off his mask behind the scenes and make his bones.

At that level, the TPP has nothing to do with he-said he-said or rational argument. It has to do with how far Obama will go to earn his position in the mob and avoid the consequences of failure.

The Globalist bosses intend to rule the planet. The TPP is their next big step. They’re not in the business of promoting losers.

Jon Rappoport – The author of three explosive collections, THE MATRIX REVEALED, EXIT FROM THE MATRIX, and POWER OUTSIDE THE MATRIX, Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. He maintains a consulting practice for private clients, the purpose of which is the expansion of personal creative power. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world. You can sign up for his free NoMoreFakeNews emails here or his free OutsideTheRealityMachine emails here.

RAND’S PATRIOT DAY

Sen. Rand Paul: Tomorrow I Will Stop the Illegal NSA Spying

Presidential Candidate Senator Rand Paul Promotes His Latest Book "Taking A Stand"
Bloomberg via Getty Images Senator Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky and 2016 U.S. presidential candidate, speaks during a campaign event in Davenport, Iowa, U.S., on May 28, 2015.

Paul is the junior U.S. Senator for Kentucky.

“We have all the tools we need to preserve both security and liberty”

Sunday, I will continue my fight to end the illegal collection of American phone records. The Second Appeals court has ruled the NSA’s bulk collection of phone records illegal. We should not be debating modifying an illegal program. We should simply end this illegal program.

How will we defend ourselves if the Patriot Act expires? Well, perhaps we could just rely on the Constitution and demonstrate exactly how traditional judicial warrants can gather all the info we need—and how bulk collection really hasn’t worked.

We have all the tools we need to preserve both security and liberty. What we now need is a president with the will to do just that.

I have fought for several years now to end the invasive and illegal spying of the NSA on ordinary Americans. I am ready to debate how we fight terrorism without giving up our liberty.

Let me be clear: I acknowledge the need for a robust intelligence agency and for a vigilant national security. I believe we must fight terrorism, and I believe we must stand strong against our enemies.

Yet the expiration of the NSA’s sweeping, all-encompassing and ineffectual powers will not relinquish functions necessary for protecting national security but will instead do what we should have done all along—rely on the Constitution for these powers.

Of particular concern is allowing law enforcement to continue surveillance on suspected terrorists. This tool will still be available but through constitutionally sound warrants permitted by the Fourth Amendment. The only change is that the FBI must obtain a specific warrant for each device used by the suspect under surveillance through individualized warrants granted by the courts.

Bulk collection of phone records didn’t find or stop the Tsarnaev brothers from the massacre in Boston. In fact, one might argue that all of the money spent on bulk collection takes money away from human analysts that might have noticed the older brother’s trip to become radicalized in Chechnya. Just this week the FBI opined that they don’t have enough resources to monitor jihadists suspects in the U.S.

I would take the billions spent on collecting records of suspicionless Americans and spend it instead on FBI agents to monitor suspects who have given probable cause that they are a danger to us. In the recent jihadist attack in Texas, one of the terrorists was well known to authorities. He had already been convicted of a terrorism charge. I would spend more money and more time developing probable cause warrants to delve deeply and effectively into individuals like this.

Individual warrants every day are used to arrest dangerous people. I see no reason we can’t defend ourselves using the same Constitutional processes we’ve used for over two centuries.

Our country was founded on the principle of individual—not general—warrants.

After the current illegal powers end Sunday night the government could still get a warrant. It will just have to say on it Mr. John Smith, not Mr. Verizon.

One suspect, one warrant. Not hundreds of millions of records swept up in one illegal order.

I would argue this will make us more safe, not less. It has been said that finding a terrorist is like finding a needle in a haystack. Well, for years, your government’s answer has been to make the haystack bigger by gobbling up every American’s information.

That must end.

The Second Circuit recently ruled that Section 215 of the Patriot Act does not authorize bulk collection of phone records, and an alternative collection mechanism is unnecessary. In fact, the recent Department of Justice Inspector General report showed that the government is using broad terms in these letters to receive mass electronic transactional records.

The Inspector General report also concluded Section 215 was not responsible for preventing any terrorist plots because agents queried “did not identify any major case developments that resulted from use of the records obtained in response to Section 215 orders.”

Opponents of civil liberties cite the expiration of the “lone wolf” provision as dangerous, but this provision allowing law enforcement to track suspects who are unaffiliated with a formal terror network has never been used in a single investigation during the 14 years of the Patriot Act’s existence. Again, even when this provision expires, law enforcement will still be able to track foreign individuals who are suspected of engaging in terrorism through courts empowered to grant warrants if there is probable cause or reasonable suspicion.

The vast expansion of the spy state and the corresponding erosion of our Constitutional rights has not made America safer. Even the most vocal defenders of the program have failed to identify a single thwarted plot as a result of the government’s sweeping, undefined, and illegal war on civil liberties.

The Obama presidency will be recalled as the era when most Democrats, with the notable exception of the principled Senator Ron Wyden, abandoned civil liberties for the tyranny of power—a far cry from then-Senator Obama’s stirring defense of liberty in 2007. “Our Constitution works,” Obama said. “We will again set an example for the world that the law is not subject to the whims of stubborn rulers, and that justice is not arbitrary.”

It was a danger that Democratic Senator Frank Church presciently foresaw, warning that a dictator through the N.S.A. “could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back.”

Our government is not comprised of angels, and we must have rules in place that acknowledge that, and protect our rights while protecting our national security.

Now, it’s time for Republicans to lead when it comes to protecting the liberty of all Americans from the whims of stubborn rulers.

This president could fix the problem by himself but he hasn’t done so. I stand ready to help lead the way on this important matter. Tomorrow I will stop the illegal NSA spying.

NSA Planned to Infect Samsung, Google App Stores with Spyware

“Implants” were to be installed when smartphones attempted to connect to Google or Samsung app stores

by Joel Hruska | Extreme Tech | May 22, 2015


If you’re in the business of writing spyware or malware, smartphones are a tempting target. For many people, their phone or tablet is now the primary compute device they use to surf the web, access content, and explore new software. Google has had problems keeping the Google Play store free from malware and spyware, but new information suggests that both Google and Samsung almost faced a much more potent opponent — the NSA itself.

A report from The Intercept highlights how the NSA explored options for hacking the App Store and Google Play over several workshops held in Australia and Canada between November 2011 and February 2012. The projects used the Internet-monitoring Xkeyscore system to identify smartphone traffic, then trace that traffic back to app stores. This led to a project dubbed Irritant Horn, the point of which was to develop the ability to distribute “implants” that could be installed when the smartphones in question attempted to connect to Google or Samsung app stores.

IrritantHorn-640x478

The NSA has targeted mobile devices ever since the post-Patriot Act era made such warrantless comprehensive spying legal, but it’s never been clear how the organization managed to tap certain hardware in the first place. The goal was twofold: First, use app stores to launch spyware campaigns and second, gather information about the phone users themselves by infiltrating the app stores in question.

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Why are People Celebrating? USA FREEDOM Act is a Big Win for the NSA- Not Civil Liberties

The real winners were actually the NSA
Why are People Celebrating? USA FREEDOM Act is a Big Win for the NSA- Not Civil Liberties

by Free Thought Project | Jay Syrmopoulos | May 16, 2015


Washington, D.C. – The passage of the USA FREEDOM Act, by the U.S. House, has been touted by some as a huge win for civil liberties. Surprisingly, the real winners were actually the NSA.

“What no one wants to say out loud is that this is a big win for the NSA, and a huge nothing burger for the privacy community,” said a former senior intelligence office, while speaking to The Daily Beast.

The bill doesn’t actually end or suspend the phone records program, but simply requires phone companies to hold onto these records rather than the NSA.

Additionally, under this bill the NSA will now get cell phone records in addition to the landline call records. Under the current collection regime, only landline call records are kept.

“The NSA is coming out of this unscathed,” Joel Brenner, the NSA’s former inspector general, told The Daily Beast. “I think no one thought it was in the realm of the possible before this bill.”

The irony is that this is exactly what former NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander had wanted to implement previously, but the idea was shelved due to the extreme unlikeliness of Congress being willing to pass such legislation.

“The USA Freedom Act”—the supposed reining in of the NSA—“was literally born from Alexander,” the former official said.

In essence the NSA got exactly what it wanted.

So keep in mind that you will read all sorts of stories and headlines about how the latest USA FREEDOM Act ends “bulk” collection.

It doesn’t!

In fact, the bill expressly authorizes, for the first time, the NSA, FBI, and other government agencies to unconstitutionally collect data in bulk on potentially millions of law-abiding Americans.

Keep in mind that just last week the U.S. Court of Appeals Eleventh Circuit ruled that citizens have no expectation of privacy when it comes to records held by a third party, such as a cellphone company.

Because the private data was in the possession of the carrier, the court ruled that it does not belong to individual customer, but instead the carrier.

By this logic, the state claims the right to be able to sift through your medical records, personal financial data, Dropbox files and anything else that is not stored directly on your private property.

Here’s a full statement from Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich), the sponsor of the original USA FREEDOM Act from the 113th Congress in 2013, on why he voted no on this current manifestation/retardation of the USA FREEDOM Act:

Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that the bulk telephone metadata program run by the National Security Agency (NSA) is not authorized by Section 215 of the Patriot Act and is thus unlawful. The ruling is a big win for privacy and civil liberties advocates who have long argued that Section 215 clearly does not contemplate the type of mass collection we now know is occurring. But the win will be short-lived if H.R. 2048, the latest version of the USA FREEDOM Act that’s scheduled to be considered by the House of Representatives this afternoon, becomes law.

Section 215 authorizes the government to collect records and other “tangible things” that are “relevant” to a terrorism or foreign intelligence investigation. To support the bulk collection of data pertaining to millions of law-abiding Americans, the government has effectively claimed that all records everywhere are potentially relevant to a current or future investigation, and thus all records are fair game for collection. In its ruling, the Second Circuit had little choice but to reject the government’s broad interpretation of “relevant,” given that the rest of the statute gives no indication Congress ever contemplated collection on such a mass scale.

So far, so good.

But H.R. 2048 threatens to undo much of the progress resulting from the Second Circuit’s opinion. The bill’s sponsors, and unfortunately some outside advocacy groups, wrongly claim that H.R. 2048 ends “bulk” collection. It’s true that the bill ends the phone dragnet as we currently know it—by having the phone companies themselves hold, search, and analyze certain data at the request of the government, which is worse in many ways given the broader set of data the companies hold—but H.R. 2048 actually expands the statutory basis for the large-scale collection of most data.

H.R. 2048 does this by authorizing the government to order the production of records based upon a “specific selection term” (i.e., like a search term used in a search engine). The records sought still must be relevant to an investigation, so it’s possible the court’s ruling will continue to restrain the government in some fashion. But it’s more likely a court looking at H.R. 2048’s language will see the “specific selection term” as defining the outer limits of what Congress considers acceptably “relevant” under Section 215.

Indeed, the Second Circuit encouraged Congress in reforming Section 215 to make a “congressional judgment as to what is ‘reasonable’ under current circumstances.” Unfortunately, “specific selection term” is defined so broadly under the bill as to have little effect on narrowing the scope of items the government may obtain through a 215 order.

A “specific selection term” may be a specific person (including a corporation, such as Western Union), account, address, or personal device, but it also may be “any other specific identifier,” and the bill expressly contemplates using geographic regions or communication service providers (such as Verizon) to define the records sought, so long as it’s not the only identifier used as part of the specific selection term. In other words, the bill doesn’t let the government require Verizon to turn over all its records without limitation, but nothing appears to prevent the government from requiring Verizon to turn over all its records for all its customers in the state of New York. Only a politician or bureaucrat wouldn’t call that “bulk.”

H.R. 2048 gives our intelligence agencies, for the first time, statutory authority to collect Americans’ data in bulk. In light of the Second Circuit’s opinion that the NSA has been collecting our information in bulk without statutory authority for all this time, it would be a devastating misstep for Congress to pass a bill that codifies that bulk collection and likely ensures no future court will ever again be positioned to rule against the government for over-collecting on statutory grounds.

H.R. 2048 falls woefully short of reining in the mass collection of Americans’ data, and it takes us a step in the wrong direction by specifically authorizing such collection in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. Americans, and members of Congress, should demand that Congress instead pass the original, bipartisan version of the USA FREEDOM Act from 2013, which strengthened—not weakened—Section 215’s relevance standard to end bulk collection, while still allowing the government the flexibility it needs to pursue genuine threats against the United States.

This bait and switch of the American people is a farce and shows the weakness of our system. The original USA FREEDOM Act was introduced as means of reigning in the domestic spying apparatus, by Rep. Amash in 2013. In 2015, that name has been co-opted with a piece of legislation that codifies the legal reasoning for domestic spying by the NSA and their cronies in Congress.

The bill now moves on to the U.S. Senate.

If you think domestic spying is bad for America call your Senator and tell them to vote NO on the USA FREEDOM Act! Please share this crucial information with your friends, as the propaganda surrounding this legislation is strong and we need the truth to be revealed!!

Ireland Becoming The Key Spot In Fights Over Data Privacy

Both Concerning Governments And Tech Companies
Ireland Becoming The Key Spot In Fights Over Data Privacy

Image Credits: Beraldo Leal / Flickr.

by Mike Masnick | Tech Dirt | May 12, 2015


There’s a really big battle brewing concerning privacy protections online that involves some Silicon Valley tech companies, Ireland and the US government. And chances are this fight is going to get nasty.

A few weeks ago, you might have heard that Twitter announced an interesting change in its privacy policy and terms of service, saying that all non-US users would technically now be managed under Twitter International Company, based in Dublin, Ireland. And, last week, Dropbox made a very similar announcement, noting that all non-North American users were now technically under Dropbox Ireland, while users in the US, Canada and Mexico remain under Dropbox in the US. Twitter’s new terms go into effect on May 18th, and Dropbox’s on June 1st (unless you’re opening a new account before then, and the new terms apply immediately).

Over the last decade, Ireland has become a popular destination for US tech firms to set up international operations, in part because of Ireland setting itself up as sort of a tax haven for tech firms via its “Double Irish” tax dodge. A bunch of tech companies have been criticized for this, though the response of “we’re following exactly what the law allows” is reasonable enough. Either way, that tax loophole is closing, though others may show up instead.

But this move doesn’t seem predicated by that. Instead, there are two related elements that may be at work here. First: Ireland is also seen as having some of the most company-friendly privacy laws in the EU, though those are also coming under some amount of scrutiny. But, at the same time, by claiming that users are now under the Irish company, it gives Twitter and Dropbox at least some power to try to say no to US government requests for information. So, depending on if you’re more afraid of government intrusions in your data than corporate intrusions (as I am), then these moves are probably good for your privacy.

Except… the US government still thinks that it can do whatever the hell it wants. First, in some ways, data inside the US has potentially more protections against the US government in a somewhat bizarre way. Whether you believe it or not, the NSA cannot “hack” its way into US computer systems. It can only use the various other processes it has to demand information from companies. Overseas, however, there are no such restrictions. The NSA has interpreted Executive Order 12333 to mean that it can hack into anything overseas, and this was the authority it used to break into the data centers of Google, Yahoo and likely more overseas (sneaking in via Level 3 and others).

But, that still requires hacking into stuff. If US tech companies believe they can successfully fend off such hacks, putting non-US users under Irish law does give them greater protection from the NSA. The NSA can no longer use its other authorities in the US to get the FISA Court to demand information (along with gag orders) from these companies. Or… maybe not. As we’ve been discussing, there’s an ongoing court battle between the US Justice Department and Microsoft, over whether or not the DOJ can issue a warrant demanding Microsoft hand over information stored in Ireland. Microsoft has resisted, but the courts have so far sided with the DOJ. Ireland recognizes this is an important fight, and has asked for the EU to come out in support of Microsoft’s position.

Meanwhile, with a new Attorney General in office, the DOJ has made it clear that it’s going to continue this course of action:

US prosecutors will continue to seek data stored in Ireland using a federal search warrant, despite leadership changes at the Justice Department.

A spokesperson confirmed in an email that the department’s position has “not changed,” two weeks after Loretta Lynch, the Obama administration’s choice to head up the federal agency, was confirmed by Congress as the new US attorney general.

This battle is going to be rather important for those other companies seeking to protect users under Irish law. Warrants aren’t supposed to apply outside of the US. But the DOJ (and the courts) have been simply making up new laws, in arguing that if it’s a US company, but the data is overseas, the warrant magically morphs into a quasi-warrant/subpoena hybrid. But that’s ridiculous. Warrants and subpoenas have different purposes and different protections — and the DOJ wants the best of both worlds. As Microsoft itself explained in one of its legal filings:

The Government’s interpretation ignores the profound and well established differences between a warrant and a subpoena. A warrant gives the Government the power to seize evidence without notice or affording an opportunity to challenge the seizure in advance. But it requires a specific description (supported by probable cause) of the thing to be seized and the place to be searched and that place must be in the United States. A subpoena duces tecum, on the other hand, does not authorize a search and seizure of the private communications of a third party. Rather. it gives the Government the power to require a person to collect items within her possession, custody, or control, regardless of location, and bring them to court at an appointed time. It also affords the recipient an opportunity to move in advance to quash. Here, the Government wants to exploit the power of a warrant and the sweeping geographic scope of a subpoena, without having to comply with fundamental protections provided by either. There is not a shred of support in the statute or its legislative history for the proposition that Congress intended to allow the Government to mix and match like this.

This fight is far from over — and with companies like Twitter and Dropbox now trying to shift more non-US users under Irish laws, the fight with Microsoft is going to become even more important.

And, that’s not even getting into the discussion of how all of this is, effectively, driving US businesses overseas. The US’s efforts to spy on everyone is, once again, harming the US economy, rather than helping it.