Windows 10 for free? New Zetatalk on Gigantic Snooping Operation and how to protect yourself from snooping even if using the soon to be released Windows 10

NB: the following is advice on how to help cut down on any snooping by Microsoft if you already have or plan to upgrade to Windows 10 - the firm advice of this Ning is to avoid upgrading to Windows 10 at all!

There is no guarantee that the methods listed below will ensure that you are not being snooped on, nor will they guarantee that you will avoid any other negative consequences of upgrading to Windows 10.

The tips below apply to any operating system should you wish to take steps to protect your privacy


In light of the new Zetatalk regarding the new Windows 10 set to arrive for free to users, I'm posting this information for people to help evade or "get around" any snooping activity by Microsoft and others if they end up using Windows 10 or any Windows for that matter.  Hackers and crackers have been getting around spying and snooping activities for years now so that should tell you that no matter what, where there is a will there is a way to protect yourself on the internet from spying- especially with the Internet being fairly uncontrollable for many reasons that the Zetas have already explained.  Using Windows 8.1 or even the new 10, there are many things people can do to protect their online activity from snooping regardless of any secret backdoor access built into Windows 10.  

With the copyright infringement legal mess stemming from a lot of greed from corporations and the government spying activities detailed by Snowden, many people over the last couple of years have turned to what is called a VPN service for some degree of privacy while surfing the internet.  There are now many VPN providers available, some free, others charge.  A VPN is a Virtual Private Network.  Essentially it creates a new IP address identity that all of your internet activity is filtered through so that your real IP address and location are hidden.  Many VPN services even offer even stealthier protection in the form of a fully encrypted VPN connection.  This is just one way to help protect your privacy.  

Another way, and one that can be combined with a VPN, is by utilizing Virtual PC created on top of your original OS (Windows).  It essentially creates an operating system of your choosing built into utilizing Virtualized Hardware technology - like a PC within or on top of your primary PC OS that you can boot up many different types of Operating systems including many Linux Operating systems and older versions of Windows even.  Personally I like using Ubuntu due to its ease of use but there are a ton of Linux OS's out there that are very secure due to the fact that hackers typically do not target them as much as there are not a lot of people using them... kind of how Apple's OSX is more secure in that it is less of a target as well.  So a virtual machine created with Linux is kind of like a separate sandbox where you increase some levels of privacy for yourselves by running an operating system on top of and within Windows 10 as it is separated virtually from the Host OS.  

Now if using Windows 10 you can combine some of these options to become a lot more private even while using Windows 10.  A VPN is good, but if not an option, another one is to use what is called the Tor Browser Network - an anonymizing network and browser that uses anonymous proxy connections while you are surfing the web.  

So in theory and likely in practice, an ultra secure way to browse and work on your Windows PC would be using a virtual machine OS such as Ubuntu or Redhat Linux or many other flavors of Linux distros, a VPN of some kind, and surfing the web with the Tor browser network all at the same time.  

These are just suggestions that will help privatize your activities, but to what degree they work against the power snoopers out there, I don't know for certain as I do not know the full capabilities of what the NSA has access to, but... I do know that in general and in theory all of these options will add to your overall level of privacy on any Windows OS.  If you would like to know more, do some googling on these things and find out how exactly they work.  The links below can help you get started in protecting your privacy regardless of what version of Windows used.  While there may not be a 100% anonymous privacy solution for people, I hope these suggestions help. From what I understand, they do.  To what degree, that is hard to determine with the NSA's secrecy on tactics and operations.  I utilize many of these solutions myself from time to time and find them to, at the very least, ease my mind a little and know for a fact that it raises the bar of privacy on any PC.  There are certainly different levels of internet as the Zetas have described.  The "official" levels and then other parts that are much more hidden.. like the Deep Web, of which the creator of it, was recently thrown in prison for life for creating it.  One thing to Add here is... IMHO; you simply cannot trust the cloud for securing your personal data and information. Just look at what happened when Apple's cloud servers got hacked... lots of private information and notorious personal photos got stolen.  Practice KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) Don't store your personal information ONLINE!  Store it offline on a personal encrypted storage device- AND KEEP IT OFFLINE :)

Popular Virtual Machine Software: 

Note: Many older PC's, a decade or more older, may not have the built in hardware technology to support creating and using a virtual machine.  In this case, a good alternative is dual-booting your PC between one OS and another.  Multi-booting NOTE:  Virtual Machine Software like VMWARE Workstation can also run on LINUX!  This means you can create a virtual machine sandbox to run Any version of Windows (XP, 7, 8, etc.) right from within your booted up main LINUX OS!  There is EVEN A WAY TO RUN MAC OSX on a PC!  Google HACKINTOSH - VPN's can be used on the main host OS and/or within the Virtual Machine Sandbox you are running.  So if you are running a version of Linux on your PC but need Windows XP or 7 to run say Adobe Photoshop, you can create a Virtual Machine VM to boot up Windows from within your Linux OS and from there install Photoshop on Windows.  When done using Photoshop, you simply shut down the Virtual PC of Windows and go back to using your primary Linux OS!  So many options today if you know where to look.  To learn, one has a vast knowledge base at their fingertips that IS the INTERNET :)  However, as is often stated in this BLOG, a TRUE Hacker believes that anything is hackable given time and energy to hack it whether it truly is or not.  A great new TV show on the USA network called "MR ROBOT about a team of hackers similar to ANONYMOUS is really good.. it doesn't go into a lot of details, but you can get the idea of how easy information can be accessed by someone that knows how to get it.  So with that mentality, you can never be too safe in trying to protect your privacy, personal information, and identity! 


A Windows PC with nearly all of the best and highest rated Linux Operating Systems installed and running great.  Any of them can be booted up at will and used with ease.  Most of these Linux OS's also install and run great natively on many PC's out there.

UBUNTU (A classic favorite for many with distributions based on Debian and also a GNOME based version)

LINUX MINT:  For People needing something to transition from Windows.  Similar interface and built in Windows emulation by installing WINE emulation app for running many Windows programs natively. 




KALI Linux:

VPN services: 

  1. PCMAG - The Best VPN Services for 2015
  2. PCMAG PIA VPN review
  3. Private Internet Access VPN
  4. VPN HARDWARE ROUTERS: Hardware Firewall routers to be used with a VPN Service For the Ultimate Protection including the best known connection encryptions available to the public.


The TOR Browser network:

As always a good Antivirus program, Firewall, AND and Anti-Malware program, can help from catching trackers and bugs out on the internet.  The other good thing about using a virtual machine on top of your main Operating system, is that any infections will likely never be able to escape the "sandbox" virtual machine and infect your main operating system.  So infections can be kept safely away from your main (host Operating System) entirely.  

Good luck and be safe out there.  Couple other small tips:  

  1. Browse in private (incognito mode) Google Chrome,  
  2. Private Browsing - Use Firefox without saving history

And if anyone else has any tips, suggestions, methods to keep safe on the Internet, Please feel free to post anything.  



They are giving the upgrade away for free to all Windows 7 and 8 users, which means 70% of all desktops in the world. This should in and of itself should start alarm bells ringing when you consider that the cost of developing an MS operating system will be many billions of dollars;  why for free - this has never been done before - and at a time when we are expecting the announcement any moment?  Then, if you read the system requirements, you see that you need an internet connection and a Microsoft account to use the OS and you will not be able to stop it from updating itself with anything that Microsoft pushes out - no option to choose which updates to install for yourself any more. It would seem that anyone upgrading would be handing complete power of their computer usage to Microsoft, who can decide remotely whether to delete your accounts and stop you using your PC if you start causing trouble, ie. after the announcement, and install nefarious software without your knowledge, yet I have been unable to find anyone on the internet sounding a warning over this.
[and from another]
[and from another]
Yes, free! This upgrade offer is for a full version of Windows 10, not a trial. 3GB download required; standard data rates apply. To take advantage of this free offer, you must upgrade to Windows 10 within one year of availability. Once you upgrade, you have Windows 10 for free on that device.

We have repeatedly been asked if the Internet will survive and continue to be open, and our response has from the start of ZetaTalk been that we anticipate that the establishment will NOT be able to shut it down. The reason is that commerce and industry, government business as well as private, use the Internet extensively and to simply shut it down would create too much havoc for those in power. Their approach has instead been to try to get the populace to use VERSIONS of the Internet, connecting to floating platforms like the Outernet or Project Loon.
These provide information to the populace but don’t allow updates or email from the populace, but an Internet that is no more than an interactive TV did not generate interest from the public. 

The Internet was designed to be able to function despite blockages, flowing like water
around them. Even if the media, TV and radio, were tightly controlled, the Internet allows the public to provide information to others and learn what is happening around the world. If this cannot be stopped, how can the elite control this? Disinformation is designed to COUNTER the facts, but is most effective when used early so it does not look like a reaction. The facts themselves then are cloaked like a reaction, as they arrive second. To achieve this, Windows 10 will be a gigantic snooping operation, given away free with lots of goodies so hopefully installed on a massive number of personal computers and mobile devices. 


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Comment by casey a on July 21, 2016 at 6:56am

France: Windows 10 collects 'excessive personal data', issues Microsoft with formal warning

Comment by SongStar101 on May 27, 2016 at 11:25am

A simple technique for halting the forced upgrade is to get rid of the updates mentioned on earlier posts I made.  Do a Windows restore,  then remove all updates that call out to the Windows 10 'initiation' process.  Then stop updates altogether and never check for them.  All instances of popups are gone,  computer runs better and faster than ever!  All this is free and easy. 

Comment by Ryan X on May 26, 2016 at 3:41pm

How to escape that forced Windows 10 upgrade you mistakenly agreed ...

This tool does a great job stopping any upgrades. XXX

GWX Control Panel will help to rid your system tray of the 'Get Windows 10' notification from continually popping up. Video walkthrough available. Read more at:

Nancy Comment: I think this website above has been hijacked as instead of GWX it points me to a reImage software package, not freeware, and the standard stuff about allowing a tech to call into your computer to "fix" it (which of course opens you up to all kinds of mischief). Beware. (Post Script I remove that bad hijacked link).

I found the GWX from another download site and got rid of the Win10 popup stuff beautifully. Free too.

Comment by KM on May 26, 2016 at 2:29pm

If you ever get an unwanted upgrade and find that you want to get rid of windows 10, there is a way. Here are some links:

A user can apparently 'downgrade' from Windows 10 to their original version before the 'upgrade'.  if this is done within a month of it happening.  To prevent notices or downloading there is a tool that will stop it from doing that in the link

Comment by Mark on May 25, 2016 at 10:31am

Microsoft criticised over 'deceitful' Windows 10 upgrade

Microsoft have now labelled the update as 'recommended'

An alteration to Microsoft’s Windows 10 upgrade pop-up box has been heavily criticised by customers as “deceitful” and “nasty”.

For the last six months, Windows 7 and Windows 8 users have been presented with an upgrade pop-up box asking users to either “Upgrade Now” or “Upgrade Later”.

The only way to skip the upgrade was to click the red “X” icon in the top right hand corner, typically used to close windows.

However, an alteration to the Windows 10 upgrade alert now means if a user dismisses the box with the “x” icon, rather than closing the window, it now activates the upgrade, the BBC reports.

The change occurred as Microsoft have now labelled the update as “recommended” and most users PCs are programmed to accept this type of update for security purposes.

Microsoft has said the upgrade can still be halted when the programmed time for it to begin appears.

The modification has been dubbed a “nasty” and “deceitful new update” by Brad Chacos, PC World website senior editor.

Mr Chacos wrote: “I’ve long been a vocal critic of the heavy-handed tactics that Microsoft’s been using to force people into the upgrade.

“Deploying these dirty tricks only frustrates long-time Windows users who have very valid reasons to stick with operating systems they already know and love.”

A number of social media users have also vocalised their frustration with the change.

Comment by SongStar101 on March 17, 2016 at 9:56pm

Windows 10 snoop auto installs and the public are getting irritated!  Yet still Microsoft denies it is doing this. 

Making it Easier to Upgrade to Windows 10

Windows 10 has been a great journey so far. Following the plan we originally outlined in June, more than 110M devices have upgraded. If you’re already running Windows 10 – thank you!

Before the upgrade changes the OS of your device, you will be clearly prompted to choose whether or not to continue. And of course, if you choose to upgrade, then you will have 31 days to roll back to your previous Windows version if you don’t love it.

Windows 10 Gets Cozy On Users' PCs Without Their Permission, Microsoft Still Denies Rogue Updates

Microsoft continues its aggressive Windows 10 forced update campaign, according to a surging number of dismayed users.

The company refutes claims that Windows 10 auto-downloads and installs itself on PCs without asking for the users' permission.

"Customers continue to be fully in control of their devices, and can choose to not install the Windows 10 upgrade or remove the upgrade from Windows Update (WU) by changing the WU settings," Microsoft tells The Inquirer.

Microsoft previously announced that starting in 2016, Windows 10 will appear as a "Recommended Update." This means that your Windows Update settings may allow the update to take place automatically.

The company explains that even if users upgrade to Windows 10, they still have 31 days at their disposal to test the new OS. In case you "don't love" the experience, rolling back to the previous Windows version is possible.

However, repeated reports show that users feel that the updating process is controlling them. For example, the "Upgrade Now" and "Upgrade Tonight" options lack a straightforward opt out feature.

A Reddit thread scoring nearly 3,000 comments and counting shows that Windows 7 Professional started updating sans user approval.

"I needed to set up my department's bronchoscopy cart quickly for someone with some sick lungs. I shit you not, when I turned on the computer it had to do a Windows update," Reddit user points out.

It appears that the issue affects multiple business sectors, aside from medical care. According to the Reddit thread, IT support was summoned after the automatic update by dental practices, roofing companies and B&B locations and more who were caught off-guard.

Problems that come with the Windows 10 update vary from the system asking for a long forgotten password to blocking access to shared folders and even completely bricking unlucky PCs. The best case scenario was when the user was simply dumbfounded by the OS changes.

On the bright side, the Reddit thread offers a solution to the problem. By deselecting the update named "KB 3035583" some users were able to avoid the nuisance of being force-fed the latest Windows OS.

It is puzzling to see Windows Professional customers getting the same treatment as Personal edition users, who had their fair share of update hassling last year. Some users say that rolling back to a previous version of Windows did not help that much, as they keep getting peppered with suggestions to move up to Windows 10.


Users seethe as Windows 10 arrives while their backs are turned

People report that they weren't given a chance to decline, that their PCs were crippled, that they can't use their systems until they submit to Windows 10

Some Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users have begun to howl over Microsoft's practice of automatically upgrading their PCs to Windows 10, saying that they were never given a chance to decline the upgrade before it installed itself.

That was contrary to how Microsoft has described its aggressive strategy of pushing Windows 10 to devices running older versions of its operating system.

It stuck to that today. "Customers continue to be fully in control of their devices, and can choose to not install the Windows 10 upgrade or remove the upgrade from Windows Update (WU) by changing the WU settings," Microsoft said in an emailed statement.

That's not what some users experienced last week.

"My computer was working great last night [but] this morning it says, 'Microsoft Legal Agreement' with bunch of legal information and WAY at the bottom 'Accept your new Windows 10' or 'Decline,'" wrote a someone identified as scifixtion in a Friday post to Microsoft's support forum. "I hit Decline and it says, 'It will take a few moments to go back to your old Windows software,' [but] then it goes black and go[es] right back to [the] Microsoft legal agreement [and shows] 'Accept windows 10' or 'Decline.' I've hit Decline a dozen times and it won't budge."

The legal agreement that scifixtion referenced was the Windows 10 end-user license agreement, or EULA.

Others took to Reddit to report that their PCs were upgraded to Windows 10 while their backs were turned.

"I leave my house for 2 days with my computer on, I come back and I have Windows 10. What. The. F***," said MalekuaMan yesterday on Reddit.

"So my Windows 7 machine was upgraded to Windows 10 without my permission about 2 days ago," echoed rtn1797. "I downgraded [to Windows 7] but now there is a prompt that is continuously open and asking me to select a time for my Windows to update to 10. WTF?"

Some said that the EULA -- where users were given a final opportunity to reject Windows 10, albeit a process that then took time to restore the previous operating system -- appeared out of nowhere. Others reported that their systems had upgraded themselves after they'd been away from the keyboard for days, or perhaps just hours.

"This is happening to my desktop which runs [Windows] 8.1. A few days ago I came back from the shower to find my computer in the process of doing the upgrade by itself," said Heck_Tate on Monday. "I had to wait for the entire thing to complete, decline the EULA, and then wait for it to reinstall previous OS. It's now in the process of doing the exact same thing again and I'm about ready to just say f*** Windows and go with Linux."

Last October, Microsoft announced that it would push the free Windows 10 upgrade to eligible PCs automatically, a practice that actually began six weeks ago. The company has repeatedly said -- including yesterday -- that users could decline the Windows 10 upgrade at some point during installation, but has refused to say whether the upgrade starts in all cases, document how the user authorization process plays out, and spell out whether it appears again later when a user snubs the offer.

Thus, the fact that machines have tried to upgrade without user action wasn't new: Microsoft has acknowledged that that is its intent. Instead, it's the fact that some users have been unable to abort the installation, restore the older OS after 10 arrived or have received the upgrade when they've ticked the don't-upgrade-automatically settings for Windows Update, that are at issue.

One user, a small business owner in Eugene, Ore., told Computerworld last week that his PC -- which he uses primarily to run QuickBooks -- displayed the same two-option message that scifixtion described. Clicking "Decline" did no good: The display returned.

In order to retake control of his PC and access QuickBooks to draft invoices, Jeff -- he asked that his last name not be used -- was forced to let Windows 10 install.

"I'll be looking at a Mac for my next computer," Jeff said.

There are ways to block the Windows 10 upgrade from installing on an eligible PC. Microsoft has published instructions for editing the Windows Registry -- a dangerous chore for inexperienced users -- that will do the job. And Josh Mayfield, a software engineer and developer, has created a tool dubbed GWX Control Panel that keeps track of incoming updates, detects those that are designed to force-feed Windows 10, and thwarts them.

On Monday, Mayfield did not have an explanation for the flood of complaints about the Windows 10 upgrade -- his multiple-PC test pool, as well as the bulk of the users of his GWX Control Panel, run the application, and so shouldn't see such conduct. But he did reveal that traffic to his website and the number of downloads had tripled in the four days prior. "I am still not completely sure why," Mayfield said in an email replay to questions.

However, Mayfield has seen traffic and download spikes before, notably in the fall of 2015 when users noticed "Upgrade to Windows 10 Home" or "Upgrade to Windows 10 Pro," in Windows Update, Microsoft's updating service for consumers and small businesses. At the time, those items appeared in the Optional section of Windows Update's listing of available patches and fixes, but Microsoft had pre-selected the upgrade (even though that was counter to convention). Users with Windows Update set to automatically retrieve and install updates -- the default setting -- or who did not examine the optional update list, were then served with the Windows 10 upgrade, whether they wanted it or not.

Microsoft quickly issued a statement saying that the checking of the upgrade's Optional item "was a mistake."

"My guess is that [people now reporting unexpected upgrades have PCs that] are configured both to install Windows updates automatically and they also have the 'Give me recommended updates the same way I receive important updates' checked in Windows Update settings," Mayfield said.

Another possibility, said Mayfield, was that users who had previously set Windows 7 or 8.1 to not update automatically -- thus stymying a Windows 10 upgrade -- had had those settings changed by Microsoft. "I have had reports from three different users in the past week who've seen their Windows Update settings change from one of the three options that don't automatically install updates to 'install updates automatically,'" Mayfield noted.

Microsoft regularly updates Windows Update, and in the past, some of those updates have switched user-selected settings or pre-checked optional updates. Recent refreshes of Windows Update -- the latest was issued on March 8 for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 -- may have done just that, triggering the automatic upgrades on PCs that should have been immune from a forced migration.

What remains unclear is whether the behavior -- specifically, the completely-hands-off Windows 10 upgrade -- reported by users was by design or another goof.

The Redmond, Wash. company declined to clarify. When asked to explain why users were seeing their PCs upgraded without a chance to decline, or were trapped in an endless loop that eventually forced them to acquiesce to the upgrade in order to regain control of their machines, a Microsoft spokesman provided a boilerplate statement that repeated what the company has said before about Windows 10 upgrades.

"[As] we shared in late October on the Windows Blog, we are committed to making it easy for our Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 customers to upgrade to Windows 10," the spokesman said. "As stated in that post, we have updated the upgrade experience to make it easier for customers to schedule a time for their upgrade to take place."

In the referenced blog post of Oct. 29, 2015, Terry Myerson, who leads Microsoft's operating systems and devices group, announced that Windows Update would be used to serve Windows 10 upgrades to eligible consumer systems. The practice was extended in January to business PCs not managed by an IT staff.

Back in October, Myerson promised that users would be able to block a Windows 10 upgrade without resorting to fiddling with the registry. "You can specify that you no longer want to receive notifications of the Windows 10 upgrade through the Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 settings pages," he said at the time.

Microsoft has yet to provide those settings for Windows 7 and 8.1.

In the meantime, many users were steamed.

"This happened to two of my PC's a few days ago," said jamierocks369 on Reddit today. "I missed it on the first PC and had to roll back [to Windows 7] and then do a system restore as the rollback still didn't return the PC to the original Windows 7 state. Luckily managed to catch it on my second PC as I was about to restart for updates. Not cool, Microsoft."

"This bricked my father's computer. He was prompted to install a driver disk which he didn't have during installation, leading to a crash which totally crapped out his system," berniesright added to the Reddit thread on Sunday. "After many hours I was able to do a fresh install with my Windows 10 disk, only to discover that his computer now couldn't be activated, as the OEM number was no longer recognized. Real s***storm. [About] 12 hours wasted on this, plus all my father's data lost and still more OEM hassle to deal with. F*** Microsoft."


Windows 10 automatically installs without permission, complain users

Windows 7 users are reporting that Windows 10 is automatically installing on their PCs without permission.

Scores of users have posted on Twitter, forums, Reddit and gaming sites to complain about Windows 10 automatically installing, seemingly without asking, and often in the middle of doing something important.

Reddit user LHoT10820 posted a warning, which has attracted over 2,800 comments, about the forced Windows 10 upgrade after it “bricked” his father’s computer.

Geekygirlhere said: “Yep this happened to me this morning. Working and all of a sudden Windows closed all my programs, logged me out and started the upgrade. I quickly shut down my computer and was able to stop it but my son wasn’t so lucky. Same thing happened to him today.”

8165128200 said: “We’ve been getting calls trickling in all week from doctor’s offices, dental practices, B&Bs and roofing companies – among others – that have been hit by this and it’s a fucking mess.

“In some cases the upgrade went OK and the user is just really confused. In others, Windows 10 is asking for a login password the user set years ago and hasn’t used since, that was fun. In still another it’s screwed up access to their shared folders.”

Even senior reporter Patrick Klepek for gaming site Kotaku was seemingly forced into an upgrade to Windows 10.

Comment by Ryan X on March 14, 2016 at 8:38pm

Now, along with the security of the Linux Based TAILS OS, comes  Qubes OS

Qubes OS is a security-oriented, Fedora-based desktop Linux distribution whose main concept is "security by isolation" by using domains implemented as lightweight Xen virtual machines. It attempts to combine two contradictory goals: how to make the isolation between domains as strong as possible, mainly due to clever architecture that minimises the amount of trusted code, and how to make this isolation as seamless and easy as possible.

Edward Snowden Explains How To Reclaim Your Privacy

Quote: "Snowden: I’ll just namecheck Qubes here, just because it’s interesting. I’m really excited about Qubes because the idea of VM-separating machines, requiring expensive, costly sandbox escapes to get persistence on a machine, is a big step up in terms of burdening the attacker with greater resource and sophistication requirements for maintaining a compromise. I’d love to see them continue this project. I’d love to see them make it more accessible and much more secure. [You can read more about how to use Qubes here and here.]"

Comment by SongStar101 on March 9, 2016 at 12:42am

Data collection now open season it appears.   

FBI quietly changes its privacy rules for accessing NSA data on Americans

Exclusive: Classified revisions accepted by secret Fisa court affect NSA data involving Americans’ international emails, texts and phone calls

The FBI has quietly revised its privacy rules for searching data involving Americans’ international communications that was collected by the National Security Agency, US officials have confirmed to the Guardian.

The classified revisions were accepted by the secret US court that governs surveillance, during its annual recertification of the agencies’ broad surveillance powers. The new rules affect a set of powers colloquially known as Section 702, the portion of the law that authorizes the NSA’s sweeping “Prism” program to collect internet data. Section 702 falls under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (Fisa), and is a provision set to expire later this year.

A government civil liberties watchdog, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Group (PCLOB), alluded to the change in its recent overview of ongoing surveillance practices.

The watchdog confirmed in a 2014 report that the FBI is allowed direct access to the NSA’s massive collections of international emails, texts and phone calls – which often include Americans on one end of the conversation. The activists also expressed concern that the FBI’s “minimization” rules, for removing or limiting sensitive data that could identify Americans, did not reflect the bureau’s easy access to the NSA’s collected international communications.

FBI officials can search through the data, using Americans’ identifying information, for what PCLOB called “routine” queries unrelated to national security. The oversight group recommended more safeguards around “the FBI’s use and dissemination of Section 702 data in connection with non-foreign intelligence criminal matters”.

As of 2014, the FBI was not even required to make note of when it searched the metadata, which includes the “to” or “from” lines of an email. Nor does it record how many of its data searches involve Americans’ identifying details – a practice that apparently continued through 2015, based on documents released last February. The PCLOB called such searches “substantial”, since the FBI keeps NSA-collected data with the information it acquires through more traditional means, such as individualized warrants.

But the PCLOB’s new compliance report, released on Saturday, found that the administration has submitted “revised FBI minimization procedures” that address at least some of the group’s concerns about “many” FBI agents who use NSA-gathered data.

“Changes have been implemented based on PCLOB recommendations, but we cannot comment further due to classification,” said Christopher Allen, a spokesman for the FBI.

Sharon Bradford Franklin, a spokesperson for the PCLOB, said the classification prevented her from describing the rule changes in detail, but she said they move to enhance privacy. She could not say when the rules actually changed – that, too, is classified.

“They do apply additional limits” to the FBI, Franklin said.

Timothy Barrett, a spokesman for the office of the director of national intelligence, also confirmed the change to FBI minimization rules.

Barrett also suggested that the changes may not be hidden from public view permanently.

“As we have done with the 2014 702 minimization procedures, we are considering releasing the 2015 procedures. Due to other ongoing reviews, we do not have a set date that review will be completed,” he said.

Until that hypothetical release, it remains unknown whether the FBI will now make note of when and what it queries in the NSA data. The PCLOB did not recommend greater record-keeping.

Last February, a compliance audit alluded to imminent changes to the FBI’s freedom to search the data for Americans’ identifying information.

“FBI’s minimization procedures will be updated to more clearly reflect the FBI’s standard for conducting US person queries and to require additional supervisory approval to access query results in certain circumstances,” the review stated.

The reference to “supervisory approval” suggests the FBI may not require court approval for their searches – unlike the new system Congress enacted last year for NSA or FBI acquisition of US phone metadata in terrorism or espionage cases.

Privacy advocates say that this leeway for searches that NSA and FBI officials enjoy is a “backdoor” around warrants that the law should require. In 2013, documents leaked to the Guardian by Edward Snowden revealed an internal NSA rule that Senator Ron Wyden has called the “backdoor search provision”, for instance.

While the NSA performs warrantless collection, internal rules permit the FBI to nominate surveillance targets. Those targets are supposed to be non-Americans abroad, but Americans’ data is often swept up in the surveillance.

The legal underpinnings for the dragnet, a 2008 amendment to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, are set to expire this year. A scheduled expiration of the Patriot Act last year gave critical leverage to legislators who wanted to rein in the bulk collection of domestic phone records, and intelligence officials last month implored Congress to reauthorize the measure wholesale.

“Reasonable people could and did argue about how important the telephone metadata collection was,” FBI director James Comey told the House intelligence committee last month. “This is not even a close call. This is – if we lost this tool, it would be a very bad thing for us.”

Several civil-libertarian legislators have vowed to push for an expiration of Section 702, arguing that it represents a growing surveillance authority that has moved beyond terrorism and espionage, and into the hunt for general weaknesses in the internet. The chief lawyer for the intelligence community, Robert Litt, said in 2014 that the law provides surveillance authorities the powers are “not only about terrorism, but about a wide variety of threats to our nation”.

A representative for the Fisa court deferred comment to the administration.

Comment by Ryan X on February 17, 2016 at 4:44am

An Open-Source version of Windows in the making? 

Based on the NT Kernel this is an open source project to create a Windows OS that is open, free, and secure.  "The project advertises itself as being Windows, but with "no government controls, corporate snooping, or privacy backdoors built in."

Comment by Ryan X on February 17, 2016 at 1:01am
  • LINUX AIO (All In One)
  • And for secure anonymity, don't forget the amnesic OS TAILS... to browse like 007 himself.  

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