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NSA Tracking Millions of Cell Phones; What to Know About Security Online; A Race to Save Whales.

Aired December 5, 2013 - 11:30   ET



ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: "Washington Post" is reporting this morning that the NSA is tracking hundreds of millions of cell phones worldwide, and it actually could be yours as well. Paper is reporting that the spy agency stores five billion records every day -- five billion, with a "B," records every day -- on phone users' movements and their contacts. The "Post" cited unnamed U.S. officials and documents leaked by none other than former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, joins me now.

Every time I tell a story like this, they're becoming very repetitive, "NSA is tracking your every move" stories. This is not one of those stories, is it?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, they are tracking your moves.

BANFIELD: This is bigger. It's bigger and badder, isn't it? This one looked really ugly.

STARR: Yeah. Well, look at it this way. Here is my cell phone. Here is what it's all about. Let's say I'm traveling overseas, on vacation, out of the country on business. I want to call back to the CNN office. I want to call home. The NSA is going to record a record of that call. Not record the cell phone, is our understanding, but those five billion phone records a day.

Here is the problem. NSA is not supposed to collect intelligence on U.S. citizens. When it's collecting that much information overseas, they are, of course, inadvertently, according to them, scooping up data involving U.S. citizens phone calls. It's what you said a minute ago, Ashleigh, tracking everything we do. I think that's really what it's essentially coming down to is a public understanding that the NSA is doing this. The real question on cell phones, of course, is why.

What do they learn from all these records? Well, it's our understanding that through their very advanced computer programs, essentially very advanced mathematical equation systems, they are able to match up essentially records of phone calls between known intelligence targets or terror suspects and unknowns, people that may be contacting them. Then they work their way back and figure where those contacts are coming from one of the big questions, of course, is can they really parse through, sort through this mountainous data that takes them to a terrorist plot? What do they do with the information on U.S. citizens that they're not supposed to collect on? A lot of advocates are looking at this as another invasion of U.S. privacy.

BANFIELD: I think Ben Franklin said, watch it, when you're giving up freedoms -- liberties for your freedoms.

Barbara, hold on for a minute, if you would.

I want to bring in our analysts on this. CNN's legal analysts, Paul Callan and Danny Cevallos.

I call this collateral surveillance is effectively what the government is saying, collateral surveillance. We're not targeting the Americans here. If they happen to get swept up in the mix, so be it.

My question for you, Mr. Scholar, does that protect them from the Fourth Amendment? You can't do unreasonable search and seizures in this country.

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No, but it does protect them in the sense that you, individually, don't know you're surveiled. Only Congress can protect American citizens from this. This is a staggering amount of information that's being saved. Literally, everybody who has a cell phone could theoretically be in the NSA computers. We're storing the information but we're not looking at it. If they did look at it, they would not only know who you called but where you made the call from, by tracking cell phone towers. The level of detail is amazing here.

BANFIELD: What's annoying, among other things, is that you can encrypt your e-mail. You can encrypt your physical use of your devices. You can't encrypt where you walk. You can't encrypt where you travel. It just sort of seems unfair that we're fair game, no matter what. Is that wrong?

DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Under the laws of the universe, like you said, you can hide your identity, but you cannot hide your location. That may be the cost of doing business, having a cell phone. That's the way a lot of people view this. We have this technology. It's a tremendous advancement. This is the price of the ticket to the technology. You're emitting a signal that can be tracked. People minimize how much data is important. It's important what you put in a text message and your communications, but where you are every minute of the day is tremendously important information, and you simply cannot hide. You would have to live in a cave, in a loin cloth, to hide from this kind of search.

CALLAN: The other thing I think you've got to remember -- this looks shocking at first. You know something? Surveillance cameras, traffic cameras.


CALLAN: Not only cell phone cameras --


CALLAN: -- when you come into New York you go through a toll booth at a bridge. Those are being used in divorce actions now. The city of New York is using it to prove you live in New York instead of the suburbs. We're already under surveillance.


BANFIELD: I like the notion that sometimes you've got a known bad guy and it's the unknown bad guys that he or she is in line with that you can ensnare. Can anything be free anymore?


CALLAN: Not unless we give up our technology.


BANFIELD: Give up your iPhone.

CALLAN: Our cell phones and our TVs.

BANFIELD: Like the president did.

CALLAN: You bet.

BANFIELD: He can't carry an iPhone for that very reason.

Guys, thank you. Appreciate that.

Coming up, millions of internet accounts, I'm very sorry to report, have been hacked. Your password could have been the one stolen. But what else could be stolen? Is your Facebook or e-mail affected by this? What you need to know about your online security, coming up next.


BANFIELD: You never like to hear this. Hackers have stolen user names and passwords. Forget this. Nearly two million accounts at Facebook, at Google, at Twitter. Popular sites, folks. All of this, according to our report, from that cyber security firm, Trust Wave. The bottom line is this, get online and change your passwords quick.

CNN Money tech correspondent, Laurie Segall, joins me now.

Laurie, it doesn't matter if you have hotstuff1226 --


-- and you think it's clever, you have to take action?

LAURIE SEGALL, CNN MONEY TECH CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Two million accounts affected. They're calling this the pony hack, pony malware. They sent a link. You clicked on that link. You thought it was something you knew. And they installed malware on your computer. By doing that, they were able to look at your browsing history, get all your passwords and were able to get quite a few. How many passwords were actually stolen, Facebook 318,000 accounts. G-mail, Google, YouTube, 70,000 accounts had their passwords stolen. Yahoo! 60,000 accounts and Twitter, 22,000 accounts.

Ashleigh, this is important. This pony hack was part of a larger organized crime structure. Essentially, what they did was hacked people, put it on the internet and sold your information. So people could buy your passwords. They haven't really caught the person behind this. They just know this was linked to a server in the Netherlands.

BANFIELD: It doesn't matter what your password is. If it's stolen, it's stolen. That said, it's always fun to put this list up. The top-five worst passwords. Is it of all time or just 2012?

SEGALL: 2012. I don't even want to know the 2013.



SEGALL: First one, don't put "password" in for your password. Second, 123456. Some of us have done that one before. Number three, very similar. Four, abc123. Five, is QWERTY. People going on and putting in the first five of --

BANFIELD: The top row, right?

SEGALL: Essentially the top row. Also, install anti-virus software. Make sure for Facebook, Twitter, you use different passwords. If one of your passwords is compromised, they can compromise everything if you have the same password. Make sure to do that, too.

BANFIELD: Really quickly, isn't it most important to have a different password for your banking, period?

SEGALL: Absolutely.


SEGALL: That can be a takeaway, definitely.

BANFIELD: And don't use "password." I have done that.

SEGALL: Not anymore, though.

BANFIELD: Heck, no. Certainly not in 2012.

Laurie Segall, thank you very much. Appreciate that.

SEGALL: You've got it.

BANFIELD: A race against time to get dozens of pilot whales back to deeper water. Why won't they just go on their own? When they are nudged out, why do they keep coming back? We'll take you there and ask you the expert about this, next.


BANFIELD: Welcome back to "Legal View." I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

A race to save dozens of pilot whales tht are stranded in shallow war. It continues this hour in Everglades National Park. 10 whales have now died and the outlook for the others in this pod, as one World Wildlife official says, it doesn't look good, unfortunately.

CNN's John Zarrella has the latest for us.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ashleigh, the problem is that there's not much that these rescuers can do to try to save the whales. What they are doing is they get the boats around them out there. We saw this yesterday. They herd the animals, try to push them out to deeper water, keep them from coming back into the shadows. When we left there, they were in deeper water and the hope was that perhaps they would keep swimming out. But the problem was that every time they get them out a little bit, they would turn around and circle back in.

Of course, these animals are starting to go into distress. They've been in these really shallow waters for more than two days now. They're not feeding, which is a difficulty, obviously. And they're just circling around out there in waters where they really can't support their body weight and everything else out there. So, time is moving on them very quickly. It's really not clear how much longer they'll be able to survive.

But as a park official told us yesterday, the longer that this goes on, it is very, very unlikely that they'll be able to save all the whales, if any of them -- Ashleigh?

BANFIELD: John Zarrella for us. Thank you very much for that.

Joining us now with his expertise on whales, Howard Garrett, who is the founder of OrcaNetwork and also was featured in the movie "Blackfish" airing on CNN.

Howard, thanks for being with us.

Can you explain why any step forward the rescuers make in herding the whales in deeper water? They just seem to be returning back to the scene where they could die?

HOWARD GARRETT, FOUNDER, ORCANETWORK: Well I think it's important to understand that these are highly bonded, in fact, bonded for life. There's no dispersal from the family. Offspring of both genders, male and female, stay with their mothers their entire lives. So it's really one, big extended family or clan of multiple generations, maybe three or four generations. No recruitment, no dispersal, they stay together for life. So they're just not likely to abandon any members of their family that are in trouble.

BANFIELD: Sadly, I'm reporting this kind of phenomenon a lot. This happened several times in the last few years. Why on earth do they go into the shallow waters in the first place? Is there something we don't know about their mission? Are they trying to end their lives?

GARRETT: I don't know. I'm not in a position to know but I think this calls for some kind of investigation. It usually happens when they're panicked, when there is some kind of explosion, or it could be sonar, it could be seismic testing, or a natural earthquake undersea that puts off a shockwave that impacts them, and runs away from the source of it. Apparently, that's taken them 20 miles over shallow water and right up to the beach and now they can't get back.

BANFIELD: When they are in this predicament -- I was so fascinated by the things that you said in "Blackfish" and the other experts -- in their family grouping and how they are so distressed when one of their family members is in distress, do they -- are they communicating now? Are they making sounds likely now as they are expiring? Is there any way to be able to tap into this and learn something about this kind of behavior?

GARRETT: I hope someone is doing that. I'm sure they are communicating. And it might give us some real insight into what their calls mean. In other words, which are the distress calls, because they're certainly in distress right now. So I hope someone is doing that kind of testing right now.

BANFIELD: And this is sort of a macabre question, but I have been reading that several of the whales have -- there's 10 whales that have died up until now we're seeing in the situation on our screen. And several have been died because they've been euthanized by those in the water trying to rescue them. How do you euthanize a whale like this in a circumstance like this?

GARRETT: That's been the topic of some workshops, and there's no real clear answer to that, especially with the much larger whales that sometimes strand. But, yeah, I don't know what are the latest techniques for doing that. It could be just one sharp spike could do it. That might be the least painful.

BANFIELD: It's very sad to hear that.

Howard Garrett, thank you for joining us. I really appreciate some of your wisdom that you were able to impart on "Blackfish" as well. Good to meet you and get your information.

GARRETT: Thank you.

BANFIELD: I hope the best for this pod. It's very sad.

Thanks, Howard.


BANFIELD: A classic car back in the spotlight, turning some heads. Ford is going to unveil the new Mustang. Take a look after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BANFIELD: His wife was bludgeoned to death in their home in front of their 3-year-old son and Michael Morton was the only suspect in the crime. He was convicted and sentenced to a life in prison, but he did not do it. DNA evidence exonerated Michael, but it took 25 years, and he was in prison the whole time. This incredible story has become a new CNN documentary. You can watch "Unreal Dream," tonight 9:00 eastern time. Highly recommend you check out that story.

Checking other stories, the wife of an Ohio judge is in jail, accused of trying to poison her husband. Media reports say Carla Hague is held on charge of attempted murder. Officials say she tried to poison probate judge, Charles Hague, with antifreeze. He's recovering at home.

A mother and her four young kids are lucky to be alive, in part, because of the quick thinking of an undercover DEA agent. He pulled two of the children from the burning pickup on Interstate 40 in Tennessee. The mom herself rescued her 3-year-old twins, and fortunately no one was injured.

Surveillance video from a Kmart in St. Louis shows security trying to stop a mom accused of shoplifting. She starts to struggle and her male friend gets involved, too. Police say she even sprayed mace at an officer. When she and the man ran out of the store, the worst part, perhaps, of the whole incident, she left her 4-year-old boy sitting in the shopping cart. See in the foreground? That's her child, left in the shopping cart.

A wild chase in Kansas City, Missouri, between police and a guy in a stolen FedEx truck. The original driver left the keys in the ignition. A family member of the guy suspected in of this told our affiliate, KSHB, that he got in a fight with his girlfriend and needed a ride. Several hours later, police spotted the stolen truck and they gave him a ride. Unfortunately, it was to jail.

Ford Motor Company is revealing the newest model of an American classic. Feast your eyes. The company unveiled 2015 Mustang just last hour. Ford says the completely redesigned Mustang has more power, better gas and mileage, and optional four-cylinder engine. Take that, Mustang Sally.

Thank you, everyone, for watching. Great to have you with us. AROUND THE WORLD starts now.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: 80 degrees of separation, that is how different the temperatures are across the country. The abnormal weather coming up.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: And then Pope Francis, he's at it again. This time he is setting up a committee to figure out ways to protect kids from pedophiles.

MALVEAUX: Plus, this --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you say to that? These are wiretapped from gang members who say that you offered $5,000, if not more, $150,000, and a car, to confiscate the video of you doing crack on the tape. What would you say to that?

ROB FORD, MAYOR OF TORONTO: Well, number one, that's an outright lie.


MALVEAUX: Unbelievable. Toronto's mayor denying allegations that he tried to buy a damaging video of himself from criminals.