“The National Security Agency is secretly piggybacking on the tools that enable Internet advertisers to track consumers, using ‘cookies’ and location data to pinpoint targets for government hacking and to bolster surveillance,” Ashkan Soltani, Andrea Peterson, and Barton Gellman report for The Washington Post. “The agency’s internal presentation slides, provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, show that when companies follow consumers on the Internet to better serve them advertising, the technique opens the door for similar tracking by the government. The slides also suggest that the agency is using these tracking techniques to help identify targets for offensive hacking operations.”

“According to the documents, the NSA and its British counterpart, GCHQ, are using the small tracking files or “cookies” that advertising networks place on computers to identify people browsing the Internet. The intelligence agencies have found particular use for a part of a Google-specific tracking mechanism known as the ‘PREF’ cookie. These cookies typically don’t contain personal information, such as someone’s name or e-mail address, but they do contain numeric codes that enable Web sites to uniquely identify a person’s browser,” Soltani, Peterson, and Gellman report. “In addition to tracking Web visits, this cookie allows NSA to single out an individual’s communications among the sea of Internet data in order to send out software that can hack that person’s computer. The slides say the cookies are used to ‘enable remote exploitation,’ although the specific attacks used by the NSA against targets are not addressed in these documents.”

“The NSA’s use of cookies isn’t a technique for sifting through vast amounts of information to find suspicious behavior; rather, it lets NSA home in on someone already under suspicion – akin to when soldiers shine laser pointers on a target to identify it for laser-guided bombs,” Soltani, Peterson, and Gellman report. “‘On a macro level, ‘we need to track everyone everywhere for advertising’ translates into ‘the government being able to track everyone everywhere,” says Chris Hoofnagle, a lecturer in residence at UC Berkeley Law. ‘It’s hard to avoid.’ …Some browsers, such as Apple’s Safari, automatically block a type of code known as ‘third-party cookies,’ which are often placed by companies that advertise on the site being visited. Other browsers such as Mozilla’s Firefox are also experimenting with that idea. But such settings won’t prevent users from receiving cookies directly from the primary sites they visit or services they use.”

Much more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Insidious. How deep does it go?

United States Constitution, Amendment IV:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. – Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

Visit reformgovernmentsurveillance.com today.

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