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Programmatic Surveillance of the NSA

Programmatic Surveillance of the NSA Programmatic Surveillance of the NSA

Reports are that the National Security Agency obtained orders from a 'secret court', permitting them to do “programmatic surveillance” by gathering large amounts of data from technology firms such as AOL (AOL), Apple (AAPL), Facebook (FB), Google (GOOG), Microsoft (MSFT), PalTalk, Skype (owned by Microsoft), Yahoo! (YHOO) and YouTube (owned by Google). All nine firms carefully crafted their denial of giving the U.S. government direct access to their servers or voluntarily providing customer data to the feds however, U.S. companies are required by law to comply with court orders or other legal authorizations requiring them to turn over user data. When a company receives a court order issued under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act [FISA], the firm is prohibited from acknowledging receipt of the order and prohibited from discussing it publicly. FISA orders can remain in place for as long as a year before renewal order is required. Orders dealing with national security can cover a huge batch of data involving millions of people and the U.S. government does not need to establish probable cause to obtain a court order. An example would be for U.S. government to gather all emails from email programs provided by some of the providers, sent to or sent out of a foreign country. The government could then use their computers to search those emails for keywords or other info that might indicate terrorists at work. Web searches, cloud-based documents or retail purchases can also be tracked. It remains unknown as to whether emails or uploaded files by ordinary Main Street American people, could get caught up in the massive electronic dragnet of the NSA.

The Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) was fined $6 million by the Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday for "various systemic breakdowns" in their regulations, including allegedly failing to enforce rules to prevent abusive short selling. According to the SEC, CBOE agreed to pay the fine and to improve system operations. The CBOE was allegedly found to have failed to adequately police and control a conflict between their rules and the business interest of their members. Chief of the SEC enforcement division's market abuse unit, Daniel Hawke said, "CBOE's failures in this case were disappointing."

According to a report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, overdraft protection services offered by banks and once referred to as “occasional courtesies", are turning into one of the banking industry’s biggest money makers. “They’re a significant source of industry revenues,” CFPB director Richard Cordray said in a conference call. Overdraft services represent over 60% of fees from consumer checking accounts. According to the CFPB, consumers participating in an overdraft program who overdrew their accounts paid an average of $225 in overdraft and insufficient-fund charges over the course of a year. Due to the extensive overdraft protection fees, banks bottom line is the only one gaining from the service. “Consumers need to be able to control their costs and expenses and deserve clarity on these issues,” Cordray says. Involuntary closure rates of customers’ accounts, normally due to negative checking account balances, were more than 2.5 times higher for account holders with debit and ATM overdraft coverage. This can result in a black mark on a consumer’s credit record plus, make it difficult to open another bank account even with, a different bank. During 2012 it is estimated that consumers paid $32 billion in overdraft fees, up $400 million in 2011. Consumers can opt to have a transaction denied when they have insufficient funds, pay no extra charge and avoid the expensive overdraft protection fees which are only making the banks, richer.

Manpower’s employment-outlook survey released Tuesday showed a seasonally adjusted net 12% of employers said they plan to add to their workforce in Q3, up 1% point from both Q2 and Q3 of 2012. Jonas Prising, president of Manpower Group said, “At a very slow pace the labor market is improving and the intention to hire is improving as well.” The report is based on interviews with over 18,000 employers in the U.S. and measures the percentage of firms planning to hire minus the percentage of firms intending layoffs. Prising said, “This is just a further manifestation of an increase in employers’ confidence in slow, measured, but steady growth, and they are adjusting their hiring intentions.” Of the four regions monitored by Manpower, seasonally adjusted net employment outlook in the West is 12%, Midwest 12%; South is 12% and in the Northeast at 9%. All 13 industry sectors, led by leisure and hospitality, have a net positive employment outlook for Q3. “The recovery and economic growth is broad based,” Prising said.
 

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June 11, 2013


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