Journalism in the Public Interest


Newly revealed documents show that the NSA has circumvented or cracked much of the encryption that automatically secures the emails, Web searches, Internet chats and phone calls of Americans and others around the world. The project, referred to internally by the codename Bullrun, also includes efforts to weaken the encryption standards adopted by software developers. More »

The White House has opposed efforts to rein in NSA snooping, but only five years ago, Sen. Obama supported substantial reforms. More »

In response to a public records request, the super-snooping spy agency says it doesn’t have the technology.More »

Officials say National Security Agency intercepts stopped David Coleman Headley's planned attack in Denmark, but sources say a tip from the British led to his capture after the U.S. failed for years to connect multiple reports of terror ties.More »

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Verizon to Pay $1.35 Million to Settle Zombie Cookie Privacy Charges

The settlement is the latest sign that the FCC is stepping up privacy enforcement actions.

I Ramped Up My Internet Security, and You Should Too

Here’s how ProPublica reporter Julia Angwin upped her defenses against hackers and spies.

Verizon’s Zombie Cookie Gets New Life

Verizon is merging its cellphone tracking supercookie with AOL’s ad tracking network to match users’ online habits with their offline details.

6 Tips for Protecting Your Communications From Prying Eyes

In an age of ubiquitous surveillance, there are still some things you can do to keep your communications private -- and not all of it is high-tech.

New Snowden Documents Reveal Secret Memos Expanding Spying

The Obama administration has stepped up the NSA’s warrantless surveillance program on U.S. soil to search for signs of hacking.

NSA Surveillance Lawsuit Tracker

A federal appeals court recently ruled that the National Security Agency's bulk collection of Americans' phone records is illegal.

Internet Censorship in China: We’ll Sing it for You

One Chinese government agency is so proud of how well they censor the Internet that they put their feelings to music.

What’s Really Happening with China’s Great Firewall

Verizon Will Now Let Users Kill Previously Indestructible Tracking Code

Zombie Cookies Slated to be Killed

Zombie Cookie: The Tracking Cookie That You Can’t Kill

An online ad company called Turn is using tracking cookies that come back to life after Verizon users have deleted them. Turn's services are used by everyone from Google to Facebook.

Inside the Firewall: Tracking the News That China Blocks

Every day since Nov. 17, 2014, ProPublica has been testing whether the homepages of international news organizations are accessible to browsers inside China. Of the 18 in our test, 0 are currently blocked. Below are the results. To test, we use, a censorship monitoring service in China

AT&T Stops Using Undeletable Phone Tracking IDs

Verizon remains committed to its program of inserting a tracking number into its customers' cellphone transmissions.

Somebody’s Already Using Verizon’s ID to Track Users

Twitter is using a newly discovered hidden code that the telecom carriers are adding to every page you visit – and it's very hard to opt out.

NSA Documents Suggest a Close Working Relationship Between NSA, U.S. Companies

Documents describe "contractual relationships" between NSA and U.S. companies, as well as undercover operatives at some U.S. companies.

U.S. Company Helps Russia Block Prominent Putin Critic

The U.S. blogging company LiveJournal is showing an error message to users inside Russia who try to read the blog of Alexei Navalny, a prominent politician and critic of the Russian government.

Leaked Docs Show Spyware Used to Snoop on U.S. Computers

Software created by the controversial U.K. based Gamma Group International was used to spy on computers that appear to be located in the United States.

Meet the Online Tracking Device That is Virtually Impossible to Block

A new kind of tracking tool, canvas fingerprinting, is being used to follow visitors to thousands of top websites, from to YouPorn.

Here’s One Way to Land on the NSA’s Watch List

If you downloaded the privacy software Tor in 2011, you may have been flagged to be spied on.

Privacy Tools: How to Block Online Tracking

Many companies track your behavior and request information about you without explicitly asking for your permission. Here’s how to combat the trackers.

The NSA Revelations All in One Chart

We plotted the NSA programs, showing which ones fall squarely into the agency’s stated mission of foreign surveillance, and which ones are more controversial.

Podcast: Mapping the NSA’s Spying

Julia Angwin talks about the challenges of tracking the ever-changing surveillance landscape. Among them: limited information and semantic games.

FAQ For Our NSA Chart

How we categorized the various NSA revelations from the past year.

Pop Quiz: Can You Name That NSA Program?

Can you match the NSA program name with its reported purpose?

No Warrant, No Problem: How the Government Can Get Your Digital Data

It’s not just the N.S.A. Authorities from the local sheriff to the FBI can obtain vast amounts of data without ever getting a warrant from a judge.

House Adopts Amendment to Bar NSA From Meddling With Encryption Standards

The measure was inserted into a defense appropriations bill and approved on a voice vote.

It’s Complicated: Facebook’s History of Tracking You

Facebook is launching an aggressive technique to track people across the Web.

Why Online Tracking Is Getting Creepier

The merger of online and offline data is bringing more intrusive tracking.

Discussion: How To Protect Your Privacy Online

Join reporters Jeff Larson and Julia Angwin hosted a Reddit chat on NSA reform, and your online security.

Privacy Tools: Encrypt What You Can

Here are some techniques that anybody can use to protect their privacy online.

Weibo IPO Reveals a Company Struggling With Censorship

Weibo, "China's Twitter," started offering shares on NASDAQ yesterday. Its regulatory disclosures reveal a company's balancing act between censoring too much and too little.

The U.S. Government: Paying to Undermine Internet Security, Not to Fix It

One lesson of the Heartbleed bug is that the U.S. needs to stop running Internet security like a Wikipedia volunteer project.

What the Proposed NSA Reforms Wouldn’t Do

All the plans purport to end the bulk phone records collection program, but there are big differences.

Stasi Social Network Analysis

This hand-drawn graphic, which is undated, was made by the East German secret police and appears to show the social connections the Stasi gleaned about a poet they were spying on.

You Know Who Else Collected Metadata? The Stasi.

Files obtained from the archives of the East German secret police show how far technology of spycraft has come.

Podcast: What Your Smartphone Might Be Telling the NSA About You

ProPublica’s Jeff Larson and Steve Engelberg discuss how “leaky apps” – like Google Maps, Facebook and Angry Birds – are allowing the NSA and its British counterpart to access your personal data.

Privacy Tools: Opting Out from Data Brokers

Data brokers don't make it easy to see the data they hold about you. Here's what you can do to opt-out.

FAQ About NSA’s Interest in Angry Birds and Other ‘Leaky Apps’

We lay out more from our story about how the NSA and its British counterpart have been scouring smartphone apps.

Spy Agencies Probe Angry Birds and Other Apps for Personal Data

New documents show the NSA and its British counterpart have access to advertiser data on smartphone apps, which can include your gender, income, and even whether you're a "swinger."

Privacy Tools: How to Build Better Passwords

The conventional wisdom about how to build strong passwords can be counter-productive. Here are some better ways to build passwords that are hard to crack.

Four Questionable Claims Obama Has Made on NSA Surveillance

President Obama, who delivered a speech on surveillance policy today, has made a series of misleading statements about the NSA.

Privacy Tools: How to Safely Browse the Web

It’s not easy to keep your data private while surfing the Internet, but here are a few tools that can help.

Judge on NSA Case Cites 9/11 Report, But It Doesn’t Actually Support His Ruling

A new ruling supporting the NSA's metadata surveillance program points to the 9/11 report as evidence for the necessity of such a program. Except the 9/11 report doesn’t contain the evidence the judge says it does.

Presidential Panel to NSA: Stop Undermining Encryption

A panel of experts appointed by President Obama says the U.S. government should get out of the business of weakening technology used to secure communications.

Podcast: Spying with Avatars

American and British spies have infiltrated online fantasy games, thinking they are ripe for use by militants. Justin Elliott joins Stephen Engelberg in the Storage Closet Studio this week to talk about avatars, spies, and the punchline-inspiring intersection of the two.

World of Spycraft: NSA and CIA Spied in Online Games

Snowden documents show intelligence agencies conducting surveillance and grabbing data in virtual worlds.



How to Get Censored on China’s Twitter

For five months, we’ve been observing 100 accounts on Sina Weibo, “China’s Twitter,” keeping track of images that are deleted by censors. Those deleted images provide a window onto China’s vast system of censorship.

NIST to Review Standards After Cryptographers Cry Foul Over NSA Meddling

The federal institute that sets national standards for data encryption has announced it is reviewing all of its previous recommendations.

Claim on “Attacks Thwarted” by NSA Spreads Despite Lack of Evidence

The agency, President Obama, and members of Congress have all said NSA spying programs have thwarted more than 50 terrorist plots. But there’s no evidence the claim is true.

How the NSA’s Claim on Thwarted Terrorist Plots Has Spread

A review of official statements shows the NSA has been inconsistent about how many plots have actually been thwarted by spying programs and what the role they actually played. Despite a lack of evidence, Congress and the media have rushed to repeat the most extreme version of the NSA’s claims.

Government Standards Agency “Strongly” Suggests Dropping its Own Encryption Standard

The decision follows revelations about the NSA’s covert influence on computer security standards.

Johns Hopkins and the Case of the Missing NSA Blog Post

The university, which works closely with the NSA, apologizes to a professor after he was asked to remove his post.

Revealed: The NSA’s Secret Campaign to Crack, Undermine Internet Security

Newly revealed documents show that the NSA has circumvented or cracked much of the encryption that automatically secures the emails, Web searches, Internet chats and phone calls of Americans and others around the world.

Why We Published the Decryption Story

We explain why publishing this story about U.S. and U.K. government efforts to decode enormous amounts of internet traffic previously thought to have been safe is in the public interest.

The Surveillance Reforms Obama Supported Before He Was President

The White House has opposed efforts to rein in NSA snooping, but only five years ago, Sen. Obama supported substantial reforms.

FAQ: What You Need to Know About the NSA’s Surveillance Programs

A detailed snapshot of what's known about the NSA surveillance programs.

Has the Gov’t Lied on Snooping? Let’s Go to the Videotape

Since Edward Snowden leaked documents detailing the NSA's surveillance programs, the Director of National Intelligence acknowledged that part of his congressional testimony was "erroneous." But that's not the only questionable comment by administration officials.

Six Ways Congress May Reform NSA Snooping

A measure to end one NSA program was just defeated in the House by a surprisingly narrow margin. Here are other proposals on the table.

NSA Says It Can’t Search Its Own Emails

In response to a public records request, the super-snooping spy agency says it doesn’t have the technology.

Does the NSA Tap That? What We Still Don’t Know About the Agency’s Internet Surveillance

In a secret effort, the National Security Agency appears to be vacuuming up large swathes of the Internet.

How the NSA’s High-Tech Surveillance Helped Europeans Catch Terrorists

The debate about National Security Agency eavesdropping has left European investigators bemused. U.S. technology collects mountains of data that often aids their cases, they say. But there's no substitute for real human spying.

Podcast: NSA Surveillance and Intelligence Gathering

In the face of claims that the National Security Agency’s data collection program had prevented terrorist plots, ProPublica’s Sebastian Rotella took a closer look at one of those: David Coleman Headley’s foiled plan to attack a Danish newspaper.

Defenders of NSA Surveillance Omit Most of Mumbai Plotter’s Story

Officials say National Security Agency intercepts stopped David Coleman Headley's planned attack in Denmark, but sources say a tip from the British led to his capture after the U.S. failed for years to connect multiple reports of terror ties.

The NSA Black Hole: 5 Basic Things We Still Don’t Know About the Agency’s Snooping

Mass Surveillance in America: A Timeline of Loosening Laws and Practices

The evolution of the National Security Agency’s dragnet under Presidents Bush and Obama.

The Best Stories on the Government’s Growing Surveillance

For background on the National Security Agency’s collection of phone and web records, here’s the best reporting on what else the government has been tracking.

Was Petraeus Borked?

When a D.C. video store revealed the Supreme Court nominee’s list of video rentals, it sparked a privacy backlash and a new law. Similarly, the Petraeus affair has put the government’s vast surveillance powers – even of elites – in a critical context.

Is $22.5 Million a Big Enough Penalty for Google?

The Federal Trade Commission called the penalty for privacy violations "substantial," but it amounts to a mere five hours' worth of revenue for the search colossus.

Announcing $22.5 Million Fine, FTC Says It Investigated Google’s Internet Tracking Early On

The trade commission now says it was looking into Google "well before" the company was outed by published reports saying the company secretly tracked Internet users.

How Do You Feel About Smartphone Surveillance? Our Readers Respond

Companies and law enforcement can mine your phone’s data for intimate details. ProPublica readers let us know what they think about it.

Does Cybercrime Really Cost $1 Trillion?

As the Senate considers a bill to strengthen the nation's cybersecurity, some questionable numbers keep creeping into the discussion.

Do You Have Concerns About Cellphone Surveillance and Privacy?

Your phone tracks where you go and what you do. Are you worried about it?

That’s No Phone. That’s My Tracker

Cellular systems constantly record the location of phones in their networks, data treasured by police and advertisers alike. The surveillance and privacy implications are simple: If someone knows where you are, they probably know what you are doing.

How Many Millions of Cellphones Are Police Watching?

What We Still Don’t Know About Cellphone Surveillance

Our FTC Privacy Story and Its Critics

Correspondence Between the FTC and ProPublica

How a Lone Grad Student Scooped the Government and What It Means for Your Online Privacy

Hobbled by government filters, a withering budget and limited legal clout, the Federal Trade Commission struggles to police an army of data miners bent on exploiting our online footprints.

Cellphone Companies Will Share Your Location Data - Just Not With You

Who does your location information really belong to?

Are State-Sponsored Hackers Targeting Your Gmail?

Google announced that it would notify Gmail users if they might be the target of a "state-sponsored attack." Help ProPublica figure out who's being targeted on Gmail and why.

Cheat Sheet: Behind The U.S. Cyberattacks on Iran

As long suspected, the Stuxnet cyberattacks on Iran’s nuclear enrichment program were a joint U.S.-Israeli project, but the computer worm’s release to the Internet at large was unintended, The New York Times reports.

Remember Stuxnet? Why the U.S. is Still Vulnerable

Years after the world’s scariest computer virus attack, not much has changed.

In the Evening Hours, CISPA Gets Some New Features

Privacy advocates say the House-passed cybersecurity bill falls short of safeguards needed to protect personal data collected while surfing the net.

Is CISPA SOPA 2.0? We Explain the Cybersecurity Bill

Our rundown on the debate over the latest controversial Internet bill and what CISPA could mean for you.

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