Posts Tagged ‘Skype’

“Stop spying on people!” — Syrian Electronic Army’s cyber-attacks compromising Skype’s Twitter, Facebook accounts

January 2, 2014

Image from beta.syriadeeply.org

Image from beta.syriadeeply.org

 
 

Syrian computer hacker conglomerate, the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA), has kicked off the New Year with a number of cyber-attacks, compromising Skype’s Twitter, Facebook accounts, and its official blog.

Social media accounts belonging to Skype, Microsoft’s  voice-over-IP service, were hacked around 19:30 GMT. SEA posted  on Skype’s Twitter account a rogue message saying “Stop  spying on people! via Syrian Electronic Army.” The hacker  group also urged people not to use Microsoft accounts because the  company is “selling the data to the governments.”

SEA later re-tweeted the message using its own twitter page.

 

A similar message was posted on Skype’s Facebook page, but was  quickly deleted, according to TheNextWeb. The link to it, which  the SEA posted on its Twitter account, leads to a removed page.

Screenshot from facebook.comScreenshot from facebook.com

 

Attacks were also generated on Skype’s official blog with posts  calling on the US to stop its global spying activity.

SEA continued to attack Microsoft via its twitter account  posting, “You can thank Microsoft for monitoring your  accounts/emails using these details.”

 

Since SEA’s inception in 2011, the organization has denied any  association with the Syrian government. They claim to be  self-motivated patriotic supporters of the government, but are  not acting on its behalf.

In 2013, SEA claimed responsibility for hacking a number of  Western media outlets including the New York Times, The  Washington Post, The Huffington Post and Thomson Reuters.  Arguably, their biggest success was the penetration of the  Associated Press twitter account that posted President Barack  Obama had been injured in a White House attack.

Skype has now fully regained control and deleted the false tweets  from the compromised social media channels. Its blog is being  automatically redirected to Skype’s homepage.

“We recently became aware of a targeted cyber-attack that led  to access to Skype’s social media properties, but these  credentials were quickly reset. No user information was  compromised,” a Skype spokesman responded to TheNextWeb  query.

Skype also tweeted that no accounts of its other users had been  compromised.

 

The latest attacks by the SEA follow Edward Snowden’s revelations  of NSA eavesdrop outreach, including Microsoft.
In November Microsoft and its Skype division were cleared of data  protection violations relating to the NSA scandal by the  Luxembourg data protection regulator, CNPD.

The probe into Microsoft’s collaboration on data sharing with the  NSA found that the transfer of some data to affiliate companies  in the US appears “to take place lawfully” under a  so-called Safe Harbor agreement.

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Last November,

The hacktivist pro-Assad group known as the “Syrian Electronic Army” (SEA) briefly hijacked the Twitter feeds of TIME magazine in response to a critical description of President Assad’s candidacy for its ‘Person of the year’ award.

The SEA has tweeted from TIME’s official account: “Syrian  Electronic Army was here via @Official_SEA16. Next time write a  better word about the Syrian president #SEA”.
That tweet was soon deleted.

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The group referred to TIME’s list of people – politicians and  celebrities – selected as potential winners for “Person of the  Year,” the magazine’s annual award.

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Syrian President Bashar Assad is one of the candidates, while the  magazine describes him as: “Syria’s ruler presided over a bloody  year, shrugging off international concerns over the use of  chemical weapons as the death toll of his country’s civil war  eclipsed 100,000.”

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The voting closes on December, 4, with TIME’s Person of the Year  to be announced on December 11.

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The SEA also claimed interfering with the vote on the US  magazine’s webpage.

Snowden Leaks, The Guardian’s stories caused ‘greatest damage to western security in history’ — Britain’s MI5 chief says

October 9, 2013

  • MI5 chief Andrew Parker called paper’s  expose a ‘guide book’ for terrorists
  • He said the coverage is a gift to  ‘thousands’ of UK-based extremists
  • Secret techniques of GCHQ laid bare by  Guardian

By  James Slack

The spy chief: MI5 director-general Andrew Parker has blasted the Guardian's publication of Britain's espionage capabilitiesThe spy chief: MI5 director-general Andrew Parker has  blasted the Guardian’s publication of Britain’s espionage capabilities

A massive cache of  stolen top-secret  documents published in The Guardian has handed a ‘gift’ to terrorists, the head  of MI5 warned last night.

In a blistering attack, Andrew Parker said  the publication of confidential files leaked by US fugitive Edward Snowden had  caused huge ‘harm’ to the capability of Britain’s intelligence  services.

Security officials say the exposé amounts to  a ‘guide book’, advising terrorists on the best way to avoid detection when  plotting an atrocity.

In Whitehall, it is considered to have caused  the greatest damage to the Western security apparatus in history. In his first  public speech since taking the job earlier this year, Mr Parker said the leaks  handed the ‘advantage’ to terrorists and were a ‘gift they need to evade us and  strike at will’.

He said there were several thousand Islamist  extremists living in the UK who ‘see the British people as a legitimate target’.

The security services were working round the  clock to stop the fanatics, but MI5 was now ‘tackling threats on more fronts  than ever before’.

Snowden, a former contractor for the National  Security Agency, fled the US in May with thousands of classified documents about  the NSA and GCHQ, which he gave to The Guardian.

The newspaper has since published tens of  thousands of words on the secret techniques used by GCHQ to monitor emails,  phone records and communications on the internet.

More…

The first Guardian revelations came in early  June, when it detailed how the NSA – which supplies intelligence to GCHQ, the  organisation which gathers intelligence for MI5 and MI6 – had ‘direct access’ to  the computer systems of AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Paltalk, Skype,  Yahoo and YouTube.

The newspaper also revealed how GCHQ has  access to a network of cables carrying international phone calls and internet  traffic and is processing vast amounts of ‘personal information’.

By the time his identity as the source of the  leaks emerged, Snowden had fled his home in Hawaii for Hong Kong. After a week  in hiding, he travelled to Moscow, where he remains out of the reach of US  authorities.

The editor: The Guardian's Alan Rusbridger
The leaker: Former NSA employee Edward Snowden

The editor and the leaker: The Guardian’s Alan  Rusbridger and former NSA employee Edward Snowden

In August, police detained David Miranda, the  partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, for nine hours at Heathrow  airport. Mr Miranda had been carrying intelligence files leaked by  Snowden.

At the time it emerged David Cameron had  authorised the destruction of computers at The Guardian offices. Security  concerns were so acute that Mr Cameron sent Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood  to demand that Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger destroy the files after warning  they could fall into the hands of terrorists.

Members of GCHQ supervised the smashing of  laptops and hard drives at the newspaper’s offices.

Mr Parker said: ‘What we know about the  terrorists, and the detail of the capabilities we use against them, together  represent our margin of advantage. That margin gives us the prospect of being  able to detect their plots and stop them.

GCHQ Headquarters. Thousands of classified documents about the NSA and GCHQ were published by The Guardian.GCHQ Headquarters. Thousands of classified documents  about the NSA and GCHQ were published by The Guardian

MI5 Headquarters in London. The leak was described as the greatest damage to Western security apparatus in history.MI5 Headquarters in London. The leak was described as  the greatest damage to Western security apparatus in history

‘But that margin is under attack. Reporting  from GCHQ is vital to the safety of this country and its citizens.

‘GCHQ intelligence has played a vital role in  stopping many of the terrorist  plots that MI5 and the police have tackled in  the past decade.

‘It causes enormous damage to make public the  reach and limits of GCHQ techniques. Such information hands the advantage to the  terrorists.

‘It is the gift they need to evade us and  strike at will. Unfashionable as it might seem, that is why we must keep secrets  secret, and why not doing so causes such harm.’

In a wide-ranging speech to the Royal United  Services Institute think-tank, Mr Parker said the task of MI5 was ‘getting  harder’. He pointed to the danger posed by British nationals returning from  fighting in Syria.

In August, police detained David Miranda, the partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, for nine hours at Heathrow airport. Mr Miranda had been carrying intelligence files leaked by Snowden.In August, police detained David Miranda, the partner of  Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, for nine hours at Heathrow airport. Mr  Miranda had been carrying intelligence files leaked by Snowden

Editor in the eye of the storm
The man who stole secret files
The spy chief said there is a 'growing proportion of groups and individuals taking it upon themselves to commit acts of terrorism'. Pictured is the 7/7 London bombings, which killed 52 civilians.The spy chief said there is a ‘growing proportion of  groups and individuals taking it upon themselves to commit acts of terrorism’.  Pictured is the 7/7 London bombings, which killed 52 civilians

Mr Parker said: ‘The ability of Al Qaeda to  launch the centrally directed large-scale attacks of the last decade has been  degraded, though not removed.

‘We have seen the threat shift more to  increasing numbers of smaller-scale attacks and a growing proportion of groups  and individuals taking it upon themselves to commit acts of  terrorism.

‘It remains the case that there are several  thousand Islamist extremists here who see the British people as a legitimate  target. Overall, I do not believe the terrorist threat is worse now than before.  But it is more diffuse. More complicated. More unpredictable.’

The spy chief at war with Al Qaeda

Mr Parker also warned that, in some quarters,  there could be an ‘alarming degree of complacency’ that MI5 and the police could  foil all attacks.

He said: ‘Terrorism, because of its nature  and consequences, is the one area of crime where the expectation sometimes seems  to be that the stats should be zero. Zero. Imagine applying the same target to  murder in general, or major drugs trafficking. That is the stuff of “pre-crime”  in the Tom Cruise movie, Minority Report.’

MI5 has attracted criticism for failing to  stop individuals – including two of the July 7 bombers – who were on its  radar.

But Mr Parker, who replaced Jonathan Evans as  director-general of the Security Service earlier this year, said: ‘With greater  resources since 7/7 we have worked very hard to identify as many as possible of  the people in the country who are active in some way in support of  terrorism.

‘The idea that we either can or would want to  operate intensive scrutiny of thousands is fanciful. This is not East Germany,  or North Korea. Knowing of an individual does not equate to knowing everything  about them.’

He also made the case for more powers to  monitor emails and the internet. Mr Parker said: ‘Shifts in technology can erode  our capabilities.

There are choices to be made, including, for  example, about how and whether communications data is retained. It is not,  however, an option to disregard such shifts with an unspoken assumption that  somehow security will anyway be sustained. It will not. We cannot work without  tools.’

A Guardian News & Media spokesman said:  ‘A huge number of people – from President Obama to the US Director of National  Intelligence, James Clapper have now conceded that the Snowden revelations have  prompted a debate which was both necessary and overdue.

‘The President has even set up a review panel  and there have been vigorous discussions in the US Congress and throughout  Europe. Such a debate is only worthwhile if it is informed. That is what  journalism should do.’

Stephen Glover's response to the Guardian's expose

Laid bare, how spies fight to protect  Britain from attack

Edward Snowden became one of the world’s most  wanted men in early June when he broke cover as the agent who leaked top-secret  documents from the US National Security Agency.

His initial revelations detailed how the NSA  harvested private information from the computer systems of companies including  Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Skype and YouTube using a secret US  surveillance programme called Prism.

The Guardian then claimed the NSA supplied  intelligence to GCHQ – accusing agents at the UK’s listening post of attempting  to bypass UK law.

The British spy agency compiled 197  intelligence dossiers from the system in a single year, sidestepping the need  to obtain a court order.

How The Guardian broke the news

On June 18, the newspaper claimed UK  intelligence agents hacked into the communications of politicians and senior  officials from Turkey, South Africa and Russia during the G20 summit in London  in 2009 – prompting a furious backlash ahead of the G8 meeting in  Moscow.

Snowden also revealed how GCHQ was able to  hoover up vast amounts of personal information, including websites visited,  emails sent and received, text messages, calls and passwords, using a  state-of-the-art programme called Tempora.

The surveillance operation centres on using  probes to access a network of fibre-optic cables coming into and out of the  country. Telecoms firms allegedly involved in Tempora include BT, Verizon and  Vodafone Cable.

The Guardian then revealed that the NSA was  providing millions of pounds of funding each year to GCHQ to allow it to trawl  for personal data. One document leaked by Snowden and dating from 2010 suggested  GCHQ must ‘pull its weight’ to meet the NSA’s ‘minimum expectations’.

Snowden also made the highly damaging  revelation that the US government had hacked computers in mainland China and  Hong Kong for years – threatening to consign relations between the   super-powers to the deep freeze.

US intelligence chiefs responded to the leaks  with fury. NSA director Keith Alexander told the US Senate the top-secret  surveillance programmes had disrupted at least 50 terror plots.

The Washington Post reported the NSA had  acted illegally on ‘thousands’ of occasions over the harvesting of personal  data, and Foreign Secretary William Hague was forced to the Commons to insist  any suggestion the British intelligence agencies had colluded with the NSA to  act outside the law was ‘fantastical’.

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Doctors Will Be Asked To Be Open Seven Days a Week for Up To 12 Hours, Government to Renegotiate GPs’ Contracts

October 1, 2013

Britain: GPs will be asked to open seven days a week for up to 12 hours and consult patients via email and internet video link under plans to make it easier for patients to see a doctor.

David Cameron

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David Cameron in the audience at Monday’s session of the Conservative Party Conference Photo: PAUL ELLIS/AFP
James Kirkup

By , Political Editor

David Cameron will announce proposals at the Tory conference tomorrow aimed at addressing complaints that limited GP opening hours make it hard for working people to get an appointment.

“Millions of people find it hard to get an appointment to see their GP at a time that fits in with their work and family life,” he said.

The changes will be trialled at a handful of surgeries next year.

NHS hospitals are struggling to cope with a rising number of admissions to accident and emergency departments and ministers say many people decide to go to hospital because they cannot see a GP easily.

The Department of Health will now set aside £50 million for GP surgeries who want to apply for money to fund longer hours and new consultation methods.

Those practices will open from 8am until 8pm and at weekends.

Doctors will also offer to consult via email, video-conferencing software like Skype and telephone calls.

Patients with long-term conditions will also be offered “telecare” technology to monitor their health, reducing the need for surgery visits.

The proposals, signalled by Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, in The Daily Telegraph last week, come as ministers prepare to renegotiate GPs’ contracts to improve the service.

Many surgeries open from 9am until 5pm. Doctors’ groups say they cannot open for longer hours because they are already overworked.

But Mr Hunt said doctors must update their working habits to reflect patients’ needs.

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Obama Administration Discussing an End to the Controversial NSA Global Surveillence — Senator Says

July 13, 2013

In the wake of NSA leaker Edward Snowden’s recent revelations, the Obama administration may be willing to backtrack on some of its more notorious surveillance policies, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) told reporters.

The long-time member of the Senate Intelligence Committee said  Thursday that privacy and civil liberties advocates could be on  the verge of “making a comeback” due to the blowback  caused by recent leaked national security documents.

Speaking to the New York Times this week on the effect leaked  documents attributed to former National Security Agency  contractor Edward Snowden have had on the United States, Sen.  Wyden said he imagines the White House is willing to reconsider  the current surveillance policies in place that have sparked  widespread protest and criticism in recent weeks.

Snowden, a 30-year-old former employee of NSA contractor Booz  Allen Hamilton, has been leaking classified documents to the  media detailing how the US government under President George W.  Bush, then Barack Obama, has collected the phone and Internet  communications and relevant records pertaining to millions of  Americans on a daily basis.

President Obama and members of his cabinet have stood by the spy  programs, but Sen. Wyden told the Times that the response in the  weeks since the leaks began could be a turning point in the war  against privacy.

I have a feeling that the administration is getting concerned  about the bulk phone records collection, and that they are  thinking about whether to move administratively to stop it,”   Sen. Wyden told the paper.

I think we are making a comeback,” he said.

Since the Guardian and Washington Post newspapers first began  publishing documents provided by Snowden on June 6, NSA files  credited to the since-fired Booz Allen worker have exposed a  number of arguably legal surveillance practices that have put the  residents of not just the US but most other countries around the  globe under the microscope of Uncle Sam.

As recently as Thursday morning, the Guardian published a new  report citing memos obtained by Snowden that show how Microsoft worked hand-in-hand with the Federal  Bureau of Investigation in order to ensure that law enforcement  could bypass encryption mechanisms and easily listen-in and watch  conversations conducted over Silicon Valley giant’s Outlook.com  chat portal and Skype messaging platform.

In the past, Skype made affirmative promises to users about  their inability to perform wiretaps,” Chris Soghoian of the  American Civil Liberties Union told The Guardian upon publishing  of that report. “It’s hard to square Microsoft’s secret  collaboration with the NSA with its high-profile efforts to  compete on privacy with Google.”

But even if Snowden’s leaks have only begun to expose a  relationship between Silicon Valley and Washington’s intelligence  community, it doesn’t change the fact that a number of big names  in the tech industry have condemned the government’s surveillance  powers as documents continue to be published. Yahoo, Google and  Microsoft have all asked the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance  Court to reconsider its policies that allow it to collect data on  Internet users without obtaining a warrant, and services that  tout heavy encryption and anonymity have seen a surge in use in  recent weeks.

Although the White House has yet to add on to Sen. Wyden’s  remarks, the lawmaker said that he thinks the president is on the  verge of turning around.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon)

Throughout his 12-year tenure on the Senate Intelligence  Committee, Wyden has made repeated pleas directed at the American  public warning them of vast surveillance powers bestowed on the  federal government with the ability to be abused.

When the public finds out that these secret interpretations  are so dramatically different than what the public law says, I  think there’s going to be extraordinary anger in the  country,” Wyden told HuffPost Live earlier this year.  “Because it’s one thing to have debates about laws… but we  assume that the law itself is public.”

Last month, Sen. Wyden and co-committee member Sen. Mark Udall  (D-Colorado) wrote a letter to NSA Director Keith Alexander urging him to  be more truthful in disclosing his agency’s policies. The NSA has  only begun to address the programs exposed by Mr. Snowden through  testimony and occasional statements, but the lawmakers said a   “fact sheet” released by the agency in the wake of the  leaks meant to address the programs was “inaccurate” and   “misleading.”

We were disappointed to see that this fact sheet contains an  inaccurate statement about how the Section 702 authority has been  interpreted by the US government,” they wrote Alexander, a  four-star Army general who also heads the US Cyber Command.  “In our judgment this inaccuracy is significant, as it  portrays protections for Americans’ privacy as being  significantly stronger than they actually are.”

Snowden: Microsoft helped the NSA and FBI With PRISM Government Surveillance, Collection of Personal Email, Skype

July 12, 2013

Microsoft also helped the Prism program collect video and audio of conversations conducted via Skype, according to files provided by former NSA security contractor Edward Snowden

  • Microsoft helped NSA access data on its  cloud storage service SkyDrive, according to a report in The  Guardian
  • The company also helped the NSA collect  video and audio of conversations conducted via Skype
  • The revelations are based on documents  provided by former security contractor Edward Snowden
  • Microsoft has said it did not provide the  government with access to user data

By  Reuters Reporter and Daily Mail Reporter

Microsoft Corp worked closely with U.S.  intelligence services to help them intercept users’ communications, including  letting the National Security Agency circumvent email encryption, the  Guardian reported on Thursday.

Citing top-secret documents provided by  former U.S. spy contractor Edward Snowden, the UK newspaper said Microsoft  worked with the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the NSA to ease access via  Prism – an intelligence-gathering program uncovered by the Guardian last month -  to its cloud storage service SkyDrive.

Microsoft also helped the Prism program  collect video and audio of conversations conducted via Skype, Microsoft’s online  chat service, the newspaper added.

Revelations: Microsoft Corp worked closely with U.S. intelligence services to help them intercept users' communications, including letting the National Security Agency circumvent email encryption.
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Revelations: Microsoft Corp worked closely with U.S.  intelligence services to help them intercept users’ communications, including  letting the National Security Agency circumvent email encryption

Microsoft had previously said it did not  provide the NSA direct access to users’ information. On Thursday, it repeated  that it provides customer data only in response to lawful government  requests.

‘To be clear, Microsoft does not provide any  government with blanket or direct access to SkyDrive, Outlook.com, Skype or any  Microsoft product,’ the company said in a statement on its website.

More…

Facebook Inc, Google Inc and Microsoft had  all publicly urged U.S. authorities to allow them to reveal the number and scope  of the surveillance requests after documents leaked to the Washington Post and  the Guardian suggested they had given the government ‘direct access’ to their  computers as part of the NSA’s Prism program.

The disclosures have triggered widespread  concern and congressional hearings about the scope and extent of the  information-gathering.

Microsoft also helped the Prism program collect video  and audio of conversations conducted via Skype, according to files provided by  former NSA security contractor Edward Snowden

Prism

Among the revelations from The Guardian are:

• Microsoft helped the NSA to circumvent its  encryption to address concerns that the agency would be unable to intercept web  chats on the new Outlook.com portal;

• The agency already had pre-encryption stage  access to email on Outlook.com, including Hotmail;

• The company worked with the FBI this year  to allow the NSA easier access via Prism to its cloud storage service SkyDrive,  which now has more than 250 million users worldwide;

• Microsoft also worked with the FBI’s Data  Intercept Unit to ‘understand’ potential issues with a feature in Outlook.com  that allows users to create email aliases;

• In July last year, nine months after  Microsoft bought Skype, the NSA boasted that a new capability had tripled the  amount of Skype video calls being collected through Prism;

• Material collected through Prism is  routinely shared with the FBI and CIA, with one NSA document describing the  program as a ‘team sport’.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2361372/Microso
ft-helped-NSA-spy-users-e-mails-Skype-calls.html#ixzz2YoVnEXdl

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By Peter Foster, Washington

The Telegraph

An internal intelligence community newsletter provided by the whistleblower Edward Snowden and published by the Guardian purportedly revealed “deep and ongoing” co-operation between Microsoft and the NSA and other agencies, the paper claimed.

Among the claims noted in the newsletter, which was marked “Top Secret”, was that Microsoft had collaborated closely with the NSA and FBI to provide access to its Outlook.com messaging system and its Skydrive cloud storage system.

However Microsoft defended itself against the suggestion that it had given blanket back-door access to the security agencies, saying in a statement to The Guardian that it provided customer data to government “only in response to legal processes”.

Microsoft Head Office Campus in Redmond

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Among the claims noted in the newsletter, which was marked “Top Secret”, was that Microsoft had collaborated closely with the NSA and FBI to provide access to its Outlook.com messaging system and its Skydrive cloud storage system Photo: ALAMY

By Peter Foster, Washington

The newsletters cited by The Guardian do not appear to contradict that statement, but do show Microsoft co-operating extensively with agencies to enable them to gather material if and when a warrant was produced.

In one entry it was noted that the FBI Data Intercept Technology Unit (DITU) team is “working with Microsoft to understand an additional feature in Outlook.com which allows users to create email aliases”, while another from April this year said the FBI and Microsoft had worked together on a different issue for “many months”.

Fearing a loss of public confidence, Microsoft — along with Google, Facebook and other big name internet companies — have denied any suggestions that the NSA and others effectively have open access to their customers’ data.

Looking on? Facebook received government data requests that involved the accounts of 18,000 and 19,000 Facebook users

“We only ever comply with orders about specific accounts or identifiers, and we would not respond to the kind of blanket orders discussed in the press over the past few weeks,” the statement said.

Of their co-operation with the FBI and NSA, Microsoft added: “When we upgrade or update products legal obligations may in some circumstances require that we maintain the ability to provide information in response to a law enforcement or national security request.” Despite the denials, Mr Snowden - who is currently holed up in Moscow airport deliberating over possible political asylum destinations — has continued to allege that lax legal oversight effectively grants carte blanche to the security agencies.

“Companies like Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft they all get together with the NSA and provide the NSA with direct access to the backends to all of the systems you use to communicate, to store your data,” he said in a video interview released by The Guardian earlier this week, “ And they give the NSA direct access that they don’t need to oversee, so they can’t be held liable for it.”

Nine Companies Tied to PRISM, Obama Smacked With Class-Action Lawsuit

June 12, 2013

AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, PalTalk, Skype, Yahoo! and Youtube will be named in the suit, attorney says.

Former Justice Department prosecutor Larry Klayman amended an existing lawsuit against Verizon and a slew of Obama administration officials Monday to make it the first class-action lawsuit in response to the publication of a secret court order instructing Verizon to hand over the phone records of millions of American customers on an “ongoing, daily basis.”

Klayman told U.S. News he will file a second class-action lawsuit Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia targeting government officials and each of the nine companies listed in a leaked National Security Agency slideshow as participants in the government’s PRISM program.

Read more at http://investmentwatchblog.com/class-action-lawsuit-
in-progress-against-obama-the-prism-program-aol-apple-facebook
-google-microsoft-paltalk-skype-yahoo-and-youtube-etc/#7ovR1r2mF63jdmZj.99

(Evan Vucci/AP)

Attorney Larry Klayman hopes to turn up the legal heat on President Barack Obama over his administration’s secret domestic surveillance programs.

WASHINGTON, June 12, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Having already filed a 3 billion dollar class action with regard to the alleged government privacy abuse by the Obama administration and Verizon, Larry Klayman, founder of Judicial Watch and now Freedom Watch, and a former Justice Department prosecutor, filed a new 20 billion dollar companion class action suit in DC federal court today (Case No 1:13=cv-00881). Like the prior class action suit concerning Verizon, this new case names President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, the heads of the NSA and the 12 other companies who have collaborated with the government in violating the privacy and other constitutional rights of American citizens. The companies named in the suit which are tied to the government’s PRISM- NSA scheme are: Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Skype, YouTube, Apple, PalTalk, AOL, and Yahoo. The users and subscribers of these companies comprise, combined with the Verizon class plaintiffs, a majority of the entire U.S. citizenry and thus these complementary class action suits pit the American people against their government and corporate enablers.

Larry Klayman

Larry Klayman issued the following statement in the wake of filing this new class action:

“This and the Verizon class action will serve to unify all political and social persuasions in our great nation to wage a second American revolution, one that is peaceful and legal — but pursued with great resolve and force. Government dishonesty and tyranny against the people have reached historic proportions during the last three administrations in particular, and the time has come for We the People to rise up and reclaim control of our nation. If not, the government will control us and this will mark the end of individual liberties.  The American people can thus use these class actions to ‘man the barricades of freedom’ against the establishment government despots and their corporate enablers who seek to enslave them through coercive abuses of their privacy. This Orwellian power grab can only be intended to blackmail the masses into submission in order that these modern day greedy tyrants achieve their corrupt ends.”

Media Contact: Adrienne Mazzone 561-750-9800 x210; amazzone@transmediagroup.com.  To view the complaint in Civil Action (Case No. 1:13=cv-00881) see http://www.freedomwatchusa.org.

SOURCE Larry Klayman

/Web site: http://www.freedomwatchusa.org

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The government’s massive collection of Americans’ phone records is drawing protests and lawsuits from civil liberties groups, but major legal obstacles stand in the way. Among them are government claims that national security secrets will be revealed if the cases are allowed to proceed, and Supreme Court rulings that telephone records, as opposed to conversations, are not private to begin with.

Justices have written recently about the complex issues of privacy in the digital age, and the high court could have the last word on challenges filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and others.

The Obama administration has said the collection of phone records — telephone numbers and the time and length of calls — is necessary to protect Americans from terrorism and that it does not trample on their privacy. The National Security Agency collects millions of phone records from the United States each day, but says it only accesses them if there is a known connection to terrorism.

The ACLU this week filed the most significant lawsuit against the phone record collection program so far. The suit demands that the courts put an end to the program and order the administration to purge the records it has collected. Conservative lawyer Larry Klayman also has filed suit over the program.

Before either suit gets a full-blown court hearing, the administration could try to employ two powerful legal tools it has used in the past to block challenges to closely held surveillance programs.

In February, the Supreme Court shot down an effort by U.S. citizens to challenge the expansion of a surveillance law used to monitor conversations of foreign spies and terrorist suspects by finding that the Americans could not show that the government would eavesdrop on their conversations. In legal terms, they did not have standing to sue, the justices said in a 5-4 decision.

The ACLU and Klayman both say they are or were customers of Verizon, which was identified last week as a phone company the government had ordered to turn over daily records of calls made by all its customers. In so doing, they said it is a simple matter of fact that records of their calls have been seized by the government.

“We meet even the standard the government has been foisting upon the courts for the past decade,” said the ACLU’s Jameel Jaffer.

But American University law professor Steven Vladeck said the challengers might face a different problem. “They’re not suing Verizon. They’re suing the government for something a third party did. And so the issue is not their ability to prove that their communications were involved. It’s how they can object to a third party’s cooperation with the government in a suit against the government, rather than the third party,” Vladeck said.

Another issue the administration could try to use to derail the suits is the jeopardy to national security that would result from allowing them to proceed, the so-called state secrets doctrine.

Seven years ago, allegations that phone companies were allowing the government to siphon huge quantities of customer data without warrants led to dozens of lawsuits against the companies and the government. In the lone surviving case against the government, James Clapper, director of national intelligence, said that the government risks “exceptionally grave damage to the national security of the United States” if forced to fight the lawsuit.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White in San Francisco has yet to say whether the case can continue, and the Justice Department has asked for a delay of a month now that the secret court order to Verizon has been revealed.

Whether the government will maintain its “state secrets” defense in the California case or attempt to use it in the new suits is unknown. But courts almost always side with the government when it makes the claim, and the Supreme Court has shown little appetite for revisiting its 60-year-old ruling upholding the state secrets doctrine.

Neither suit addresses the government’s recently revealed surveillance of Internet activity, known as PRISM.

The Internet program allows the NSA to reach into the data streams of U.S. companies — Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft, Google and others — and grab emails, video chats, pictures and more. Just how much the government seizes is unclear, but Clapper says it is narrowly focused on foreign targets.

If the phone record lawsuits clear whatever legal hurdles the government seeks to put in their path, there remains a line of high court cases that casts doubt on the privacy claims raised by the ACLU and by Klayman.

The Constitution’s ban on unreasonable searches and seizures clearly applies to telephone conversations. In 1967, the court said authorities ordinarily need to persuade a judge to issue a warrant before they can listen in, based on significant evidence that a crime has been committed or is underway.

But phone records are different, the court said in Smith v. Maryland in 1979. “All telephone users realize that they must ‘convey’ phone numbers to the telephone company, since it is through telephone company switching equipment that their calls are completed. All subscribers realize, moreover, that the phone company has facilities for making permanent records of the numbers they dial, for they see a list of their long-distance (toll) calls on their monthly bills,” Justice Harry Blackmun wrote in rejecting the claim police need a warrant to obtain phone records.

Fast forward to 2012, and some members of the court appeared to recognize that technology may have altered privacy concerns.

In separate opinions in last year’s case involving a GPS device used to track a criminal suspect for four weeks, two justices described how advances in technology can shake up Americans’ expectations of privacy.

“Dramatic technological change may lead to periods in which popular expectations are in flux and may ultimately produce significant changes in popular attitudes. New technology may provide increased convenience or security at the expense of privacy, and many people may find the tradeoff worthwhile. And even if the public does not welcome the diminution of privacy that new technology entails, they may eventually reconcile themselves to this development as inevitable,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in an opinion that was joined by three other justices. “On the other hand, concern about new intrusions on privacy may spur the enactment of legislation to protect against these intrusions.”

Writing only for herself, Justice Sonia Sotomayor expressed more anxiety about the wealth of information that people disclose about themselves in the performance of daily tasks, including using their cell phones, surfing the Internet and making online purchases. “Perhaps, as Justice Alito notes, some people may find the ‘tradeoff’ of privacy for convenience ‘worthwhile,’ or come to accept this ‘diminution of privacy’ as ‘inevitable,’ and perhaps not. I for one doubt that people would accept without complaint the warrantless disclosure to the Government of a list of every Web site they had visited in the last week, or month, or year.”

Sotomayor suggested that the court may need to revise its 1970s-era views about the privacy of information that people voluntarily hand over in what otherwise seem to be closely held transactions.

Britain ‘secretly gathering intelligence through internet firms’

June 7, 2013

Britain’s  listening post GCHQ has been secretly gathering intelligence from some of the world’s biggest internet firms through America’s National Security Agency, it was claimed today.

Vandals attack cars of GCHQ workers

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Britain’s listening post GCHQ has been secretly gathering intelligence from some of the world’s biggest internet firms through America’s National Security Agency, it was claimed today. Photo: PA
Christopher Hope

By , and Tom Whitehead

The Telegraph

The Guardian newspaper claimed that it had obtained documents that show that GCHQ, based in Cheltenham, has had access to the system since at least June 2010, and generated 197 intelligence reports from it last year.

Intelligence reports from GCHQ are normally shared with Britain’s security services MI5 and MI6.

The newspaper said that US-run programme, called Prism, allowed GCHQ to circumvent the formal legal process required to seek personal material such as emails, photos and videos from an internet company based outside the UK.

The details of GCHQ’s use of Prism were set out in documents prepared for senior analysts working at America’s National Security Agency, the biggest eavesdropping organisation in the world.

The papers described how the NSA and the FBI were able to get easy access to the systems of nine of the world’s biggest internet companies.

The group includes Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo and Skype, many of which are used daily by millions of Britons to send private messages.

In a statement, GCHQ told The Daily Telegraph: “GCHQ takes its obligations under the law very seriously.

“Our work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the Secretary of State, the Interception and Intelligence Service Commissioners and the Intelligence and Security Committee.”

The documents, which appear in the form of a 41-page PowerPoint presentation, suggest the firms voluntarily agreed to co-operate with the Prism programme. Prism by Washington was established in December 2007 to provide in-depth surveillance on live communications and stored information about foreigners overseas.

The NSA has been able to obtain unilaterally both stored communications as well as real-time collection of raw data for the last six years, without the knowledge of users, who would assume their correspondence was private.

The NSA has described Prism as “one of the most valuable, unique and productive accesses” of intelligence, and boasts the service has been made available to spy organisations from other countries, including GCHQ.

In its statement about Prism, Google said it “cares deeply about the security of our users’ data. We disclose user data to government in accordance with the law, and we review all such requests carefully.

“From time to time, people allege that we have created a government ‘back door’ into our systems, but Google does not have a back door for the government to access private user data.”

Related:

Video:  The U.S. government is accessing top Internet companies’ servers to track foreign targets. Reporter Barton Gellman talks about the source who revealed this top-secret information and how he believes his whistleblowing was worth whatever consequences are ahead.

Video:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/obama-defends-sweepi
ng-surveillance-efforts/2013/06/07/2002290a-cf88-11e2-9f1a-1a7cdee20287_story.html

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Barack Obama discusses the NSA surveillance controversy at a press conference in California.

Barack Obama discusses the NSA surveillance controversy at a press conference in California. Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP

U.S. agencies are tapping directly into servers of Apple, Google and Facebook to spy on users

June 7, 2013

  • PRISM data-mining program was launched in  2007 with approval from special federal judges
  • Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo,  YouTube, Skype, AOL and PalTalk are involved in spying program
  • Details of data collection were outlined in  classified 41-slide PowerPoint presentation that was leaked by intelligence  officer
  • PRISM was exposed one day after it was  revealed that NSA has been collecting telephone records of Verizon  customers
  • It is largest anti-terror  intelligence-gathering operation since 9/11

By  Daily Mail Reporter

The National Security Agency and the FBI have  been pulling personal data directly from the main servers of nine top U.S. tech  giants as part of a top-secret initiative dubbed PRISM, it was revealed today.

The Washington  Post, which broke the news Thursday,  reported that for the past six years, U.S. intelligence agencies have been  extracting audio, video, photos, e-mails, documents and other information to  track people’s movements and contacts.

The Silicon Valley companies involved in the  PRISM program are Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Skype, AOL  and the lesser known Internet company PalTalk, which has hosted a lot of traffic  during the Arab Spring and the on-going Syrian civil war.

The revelation – the largest anti-terror  intelligence-gathering operation since 9/11 – will place massive pressure on  Obama, who is already reeling from the recent IRS scandal.

I know what you're doing this summer: The Obama administration defended the order on Thursday, calling it 'a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats'.I know what you’re doing this summer: The Obama  administration defended the order on Thursday, calling it ‘a critical tool in  protecting the nation from terrorist threats’
Classified: The particulars of the PRISM data-mining program have been outlined in a top-secret PowerPoint presentation for senior intelligence analysts, which ended up being leaked.Classified: The particulars of the PRISM data-mining  program have been outlined in a top-secret PowerPoint presentation for senior  intelligence analysts, which ended up being leaked
Participants: This graph shows when each of the nine tech companies joined PRISM, with Apple being the latest addition in October 2012 .Participants: This graph shows when each of the nine  tech companies joined PRISM, with Apple being the latest addition in October  2012

In addition to the names already on the list,  the cloud-storage service Dropbox was described as ‘coming soon’ to PRISM.

Twitter, which is known for zealously  protecting its users’ privacy, is conspicuous in its absence from the list of  Internet companies involved in the data-mining program.

PRISM was launched in 2007 with the blessing  of special federal judges under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The  Post said that several members of the U.S. Congress were made aware of the  classified data-gathering program, but were sworn to secrecy.

More…

All forms of wiretapping of U.S. citizens by  the NSA requires a warrant from a three-judge court set up under the  Foreign  Intelligence Surveillance Act passed in 1978.

But former President George W. Bush issued an  executive order shortly after the  September 11, 2001, attacks in New York that  authorised the NSA to  monitor certain phone calls without obtaining a warrant.

The warrantless wiretapping programme  remained a secret until 2005, when a  whistleblower went to the press to reveal  the extent of the  surveillance.

Bombshell: NSA and FBI have been extracting audio, video, photos, e-mails, documents and other data from Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Skype, AOL and PalTalk.
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Bombshell: NSA and FBI have been extracting audio,  video, photos, e-mails, documents and other data from Apple, Facebook,  Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Skype, AOL and PalTalk
Key source: PRISM has been described by NSA officials 'as the most prolific contributor to the president's Daily Brief,' providing analysts with a wealth of 'raw material' .
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Key source: PRISM has been described by NSA officials  ‘as the most prolific contributor to the president’s Daily Brief,’ providing  analysts with a wealth of ‘raw material’

And although the NSA has strenuously denied  acting beyond its surveillance powers, groups such as the American Civil  Liberties Union (ACLU) have warned that the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act  (CISPA) – a bill currently passing  through Congress – could dramatically increase the amount of personal data that  government agencies have legal access to.

The particulars of today’s revelation were  outlined in a top-secret PowerPoint presentation for senior intelligence  analysts, which ended up being leaked to The Post and Britain’s The  Guardian.

According to The Washington Post, the tech  companies are knowingly taking part in PRISM, but The Guardian reported than all  nine pleaded ignorance of the program.

In a statement issued by Google, the company  said it ‘cares deeply about the security of our users’ data. We disclose user  data to government in accordance with the law, and we review all such requests  carefully.

Denial: Google released a statement insisting that the company has not created a 'back door' into its system for the government to access its users' private information .
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Denial: Google released a statement insisting that the  company has not created a ‘back door’ into its system for the government to  access its users’ private information
Microsoft
Apple

Damage control: All nine companies allegedly involved in  the spying program, among them Microsoft (left) and Apple (right), have denied  knowledge of PRISM

Social media tool: Analysts targeting a potential terrorist or a spy would draw in information from his Facebook account, including his contacts .
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Social media tool: Analysts targeting a potential  terrorist or a spy would draw in information from his Facebook account,  including his contacts

‘From time to time, people allege that we  have created a government “back door” into our systems, but Google does not have  a back door for the government to access private user data.’

Apple Inc on Thursday said it does not  provide any government agency with direct access to its servers, denying a key  aspect of a Washington Post report.
‘We have never heard of PRISM,’ Apple  spokesman Steve Dowling said. ‘We do not provide any government agency with  direct access to our servers, and any government agency requesting customer data  must get a court order.’

Asked whether Apple joined the NSA-FBI data  collection program, Apple declined to comment beyond its brief  statement.

According to the Post, PRISM has been  described by NSA officials ‘as the most prolific contributor to the president’s  Daily Brief’ and the ‘leading source of raw material.’

As a cryptolific intelligence agency of the  U.S. Department of Defense, the NSA is responsible for collecting and analyzing  foreign communications and foreign signals intelligence. However, the agency  allegedly has been using PRISM to target American Internet companies handling  the accounts of domestic users on U.S. soil.

Analysts working for the NSA would reportedly  pick out bits and pieces of data using search terms to help them zero in on  foreign targets, but it is not unusual for American content to become swept in  as well.

Outsider: Twitter, which has a reputation for protecting its users' privacy, was not on the list of Internet companies involved in the data-mining program.
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Outsider: Twitter, which has a reputation for protecting  its users’ privacy, was not on the list of Internet companies involved in the  data-mining program

In practice, if collection managers in  the  NSA’s Special Source Operation Group, which manages PRISM, have  suspicion that  their target is a foreign national engaged in terrorism  or a spy, they move  ahead to draw in all the data from the user’s  Facebook account, email inboxes  and outboxes, and Skype conversations,  which would often net in information on  the suspect’s contacts.

The 41-slide PowerPoint presentation  outlining PRISM was leaked to the media by a career intelligence officer, which  the Post says had ‘firsthand experience with these system, and horror at their  capabilities.’

The unnamed whistle-blower reportedly said he  was driven by the desire to expose the government’s ‘gross intrusion on  privacy.’

‘They quite literally can watch your ideas  form as you type,’ the officer said.

Spying: The NSA has been getting millions of phone records from Verizon on a daily basis for months without any justification for the order, that was only revealed today.
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Spying: The NSA has been getting millions of phone  records from Verizon on a daily basis for months without any justification for  the order, that was only revealed today
Double bind: Part of the order mandated that Verizon not tell its' customer's about the record transfer nor could they admit that the order existed.
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Double bind: Part of the order mandated that Verizon not  tell its’ customer’s about the record transfer nor could they admit that the  order existed

The bombshell allegations come one day after  it was revealed that the NSA has been collecting telephone records of millions  of U.S. Verizon customers.

The Obama administration defended the order  on Thursday, calling it ‘a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist  threats.’

The top U.S. intelligence official denounced  the disclosure of highly secret documents Thursday and sought to set the record  straight about how the government collects intelligence about people’s telephone  and Internet use.

He said he was declassifying some aspects of  the monitoring to help Americans understand it better.

Director of National Intelligence James  Clapper called the disclosure of an Internet surveillance program  ‘reprehensible’ and said it risks Americans’ security.

He said a leak that revealed a program to  collect phone records would affect how America’s enemies behave and make it  harder to understand their intentions.

‘The unauthorized disclosure of a top secret  U.S. court document threatens potentially long-lasting and irreversible harm to  our ability to identify and respond to the many threats facing our nation,’  Clapper said in an unusual late-night statement.


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Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testifies before a Senate (Select) Intelligence Committee hearing on worldwide threats in Washington on February 16, 2011.  UPI/Kevin Dietsch

At the same time, he moved to correct  misunderstandings about both programs, taking the rare step of declassifying  some details about the authority used in the phone records program and alleging  that articles about the Internet program ‘contain numerous  inaccuracies.’

He did not specify what those inaccuracies  might be.

At issue is a court order, first disclosed  Wednesday by The Guardian newspaper in Britain, that requires the communications  company Verizon to turn over on an ‘ongoing, daily basis’ the records of its  customers’ calls. Separately, The Washington Post and The Guardian reported  Thursday the existence of another program used by the NSA and FBI that scours  the nation’s main Internet companies, extracting audio, video, emails and other  information.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2337228/They-watch-idea
s-form-type–Leaked-secret-documents-reveal-U-S-intelligence-agencies-ta
pping-directly-servers-Apple-Google-Facebook-spy-users.html#ixzz2VWtLoOdN

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Ready for “Telehealth”? — Britain Joins India: Your Doctor Only Has Time To See You Via iPads and Skype

November 26, 2012
A BID to save nearly £3billion by slashing appointments with a doctor and treating patients via computer will put lives at risk, ministers were warned.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is planning a technological revolution that could spell the end of the traditional doctor’s surgery.

A new system of “virtual clinics” is being planned in which GPs connect with patients via iPads and Skype, an idea that NHS bosses are importing from India.

By Ted Jeory

Express.co.uk - Home of the Daily and Sunday Express Express - Breaking news, sport and showbiz from the World's Greatest Newspaper

The reforms would save £2.9billion “almost immediately” and improve the lives of most patients, for example by avoiding the need to find child care during appointments, Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter said last week.

However, critics are concerned the initiative would create a two-tier NHS in which the less technologically able, particularly the elderly, would be left behind.

Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham called the plan “dangerous”, while Age UK said cutting the number of personal appointments would erode the vital trust between doctor and patient.

The ideas, contained in a Health Department report called Digital First, include arming community nurses with iPads in rural areas and making more use of Skype video calling between GPs and patients. There will be more online assessments “augmented” with video calls.

Mobile phone “apps” will be used to access lab reports and health records and negative test results will be sent by text messages rather than delivered in person. Mr Hunt, who made a fortune by creating an internet company, believes that while mobile broadband technology is revolutionising most walks of life, there is a problem once ­people encounter the relatively antiquated systems of the NHS.

The Government is trying to fill a £20billion NHS funding gap and health chiefs want to reduce “needless” appointments that clog up staff time.

Patients would be encouraged not to attend GPs’ surgeries, firstly by telephone assessments and then by video links. NHS bosses have been examining practices in India where video-conferencing has proved successful with some patients.

In a Westminster debate last week, Dr Poulter said 15 million people with long-term conditions accounted for 70 per cent of all in-patient beds. “Many such ­hospital stays could be avoided through better management, including the better use of mobile technologies, to prevent people from becoming so unwell in the first place that they need to be admitted to hospital.

Jeremy Hunt is planning for doctors to assess patients via iPads

“We need to harness and better utilise more modern types of technology such as telehealth and mobile technology to support people better in their own homes and to drive down the cost of care.

“About one-third of patients do not necessarily need a face-to-face GP appointment.” In a statement to the Sunday Express, he stated: “It is important to stress that patients who are unwell and need to see their GP will still always have quality face-to-face time with them.

“The Government also recognises that not everyone, particularly frail older people, will have easy access to the internet.”

However, Age UK’s boss Michelle Mitchell warned: “Many people of all ages still prefer human contact.

“It also gives the medical professional the chance to recognise health issues that may not be obvious from a distance.”

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: “The telehealth agenda must be driven by a desire to improve clinical outcomes and patient care, not the Government’s plans to save £20billion.”

Mr Burnham warned: “Older people who don’t have access to the internet will lose out.”


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