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Although one of its closest allies, Japan is not immune to being spied on by the United States. The Abe government’s posturing following Wikileaks recent release of documents stipulating the US is spying on Japan as “deeply regrettable” rings pretty hollow (emphasis added):

“We have strongly requested intelligence director Clapper confirm the facts,” Suga said, referring to James Clapper, National Intelligence director.

Claims that Washington spied on Japanese trade officials, among others, came just as delegates negotiating a vast free-trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership failed to reach a final deal after several days of intense talks in Hawaii.

The US and Japan are the two biggest economies in the 12-nation negotiations, but they have sparred over key issues including auto sector access and opening up Japan’s protected agricultural markets.

‘Intimate knowledge’

WikiLeaks said the US intercepts showed “intimate knowledge of internal Japanese deliberations” on trade issues, nuclear policy, and Japan’s diplomatic relations with the US.

“The reports demonstrate the depth of US surveillance of the Japanese government, indicating that intelligence was gathered and processed from numerous Japanese government ministries and offices,” it said.

Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, did not appear to be a direct target of phone tapping but senior politicians were.

Yoichi Miyazawa, Japan’s trade minister; Haruhiko Kuroda, Bank of Japan governor; and officials of Mitsubishi company were in the sights of US intelligence, WikiLeaks said.

This is the type of spying I would expect every world government to conduct. The usefulness of this type of data gives negotiating advantages for the countries with good intelligence, so this really should come as no surprise. If a large economic power like Japan has not engaged in this behavior then I will be very surprised.

Buzzfeed, of all places, has an interesting article introducing a mysterious new hacker army freaking out the Middle East:

But the campaign continued to build. Twitter accounts were created calling for hackers to attack Saudi targets rallying around the hashtag #OpSaudi. On May 20, the Saudi foreign ministry was hacked. The next day, a story appeared on Iran’s state-run FARS news agency, the first media mention of the group (followed quickly by a second press mentionon Russia Today). The FARS story credited the Yemen Cyber Army with carrying out the hack of the Saudi foreign ministry and said it would soon be releasing personal information about Saudi federal employees as well as diplomatic correspondence. In the week that followed, documents surfaced in Pastebin accounts with passport information that appeared to come from the Saudi foreign ministry.

Fast forward to one month later, when Wikileaks announced it would make public roughly one million diplomatic cables from Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry. Wikileaks’ press release mentions that “a group calling itself the Yemen Cyber Army was responsible for breaching the Saudi Foreign Ministry,” but stops short of naming the group as the source of the documents being uploaded to Wikileaks. The documents range from cables outlining Saudi Arabia’s funding of Islamist groups in the region, to a request from Osama bin Laden’s son for his father’s death certificate. It was the first news-making event for Wikileaks since November 2013.

Who is the shadowy group that appears to have launched a full-scale digital campaign to expose, or at least embarrass, Saudi Arabia?

I am surprised to see such an interesting, and well written, cyber security story on Buzzfeed.

Intercept on how the DoJ gagged Google over surveillance of a Wikileaks volunteers Gmail account and the tough legal battle that ensued (emphasis added):

The Justice Department argued in the case that Appelbaum had “no reasonable expectation of privacy” over his email records under the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures. Rather than seeking a search warrant that would require it to show probable cause that he had committed a crime, the government instead sought and received an order to obtain the data under a lesser standard, requiring only “reasonable grounds” to believe that the records were “relevant and material” to an ongoing criminal investigation.

Google repeatedly attempted to challenge the demand, and wanted to immediately notify Appelbaum that his records were being sought so he could have an opportunity to launch his own legal defense. Attorneys for the tech giant argued in a series of court filings that the government’s case raised “serious First Amendment concerns.” They noted that Appelbaum’s records “may implicate journalistic and academic freedom” because they could “reveal confidential sources or information about WikiLeaks’ purported journalistic or academic activities.”

However, the Justice Department asserted that “journalists have no special privilege to resist compelled disclosure of their records, absent evidence that the government is acting in bad faith,” and refused to concede Appelbaum was in fact a journalist. It claimed it had acted in “good faith throughout this criminal investigation, and there is no evidence that either the investigation or the order is intended to harass the … subscriber or anyone else.”

Google’s attempts to fight the surveillance gag order angered the government, with the Justice Department stating that the company’s “resistance to providing the records” had “frustrated the government’s ability to efficiently conduct a lawful criminal investigation.”

So the United States Department of Justice’s position is if a company fights back against a request for user data rather than just handing it over haplessly, they consider that act to frustrate their ability to efficiently conduct a lawful criminal investigation?