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Total Surveillance Bulletin, 2013

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Total Surveillance Bulletin, 2013

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[Dec 21, 2013] Merkel compared NSA to Stasi in heated encounter with Obama

The Guardian

In an angry exchange with Barack Obama, Angela Merkel has compared the snooping practices of the US with those of the Stasi, the ubiquitous and all-powerful secret police of the communist dictatorship in East Germany, where she grew up.

The German chancellor also told the US president that America's National Security Agency cannot be trusted because of the volume of material it had allowed to leak to the whistleblower Edward Snowden, according to the New York Times.

Livid after learning from Der Spiegel magazine that the Americans were listening in to her personal mobile phone, Merkel confronted Obama with the accusation: "This is like the Stasi."

The newspaper also reported that Merkel was particularly angry that, based on the disclosures, "the NSA clearly couldn't be trusted with private information, because they let Snowden clean them out."

Snowden is to testify on the NSA scandal to a European parliament inquiry next month, to the anger of Washington which is pressuring the EU to stop the testimony.

In Brussels, the chairman of the US House select committee on intelligence, Mike Rogers, a Republican, said his views on the invitation to Snowden were "not fit to print" and that it was "not a great idea".

Inviting someone "who is wanted in the US and has jeopardised the lives of US soldiers" was beneath the dignity of the European parliament, he said.

He declined to comment on Merkel's alleged remarks to Obama. In comments to the Guardian, he referred to the exchange as "a conversation that may or may not have occurred".

Senior Brussels officials say the EU is struggling to come up with a coherent and effective response to the revelations of mass US and British surveillance of electronic communication in Europe, but that the disclosure that Merkel's mobile had been monitored was a decisive moment.

A draft report by a European parliament inquiry into the affair, being presented on Wednesday and obtained by the Guardian, says there has to be a discussion about the legality of the NSA's operations and also of the activities of European intelligence agencies.

The report drafted by Claude Moraes, the British Labour MEP heading the inquiry, says "we have received substantial evidence that the operations by intelligence services in the US, UK, France and Germany are in breach of international law and European law".

Rather than resorting to a European response, Berlin has been pursuing a bilateral pact with the Americans aimed at curbing NSA activities and insisting on a "no-spying pact" between allies.

The NYT reported that Susan Rice, Obama's national security adviser, had told Berlin that there would be not be a no-espionage agreement, although the Americans had pledged to desist from monitoring Merkel personally.

A high-ranking German official with knowledge of the talks with the White House told the Guardian there had been a "useful exchange of views", but confirmed a final agreement was far from being reached.

The Germans have received assurances that the chancellor's phone was not being monitored and that the US spy agency is not conducting industrial espionage.

However the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks, said German and US officials were still in the process of negotiating how any final agreement – the details of which could remain secret between both governments – would be formalised.

Their discussions, which include talks about so-called confidence building measures, are also bound-up with wider discussions with the EU regarding special privacy assurances that might be afforded to its citizens under a future arrangement.

"We want to be assured that not everything that is technically possible will be done," the German official added.

In Germany, the main government minister dealing with the NSA fallout, Hans-Peter Friedrich, has fallen victim to a reshuffle in the new coalition unveiled in Berlin at the weekend. Friedrich, from Bavaria's Christian Social Union, is not seen as an ally of Merkel's and was widely viewed to have performed less than robustly in the exchanges with the Americans.

His replacement as interior minister, by contrast, is a close ally of Merkel's – her former chief of staff and former defence minister, Thomas de Maiziere. Additionally, Merkel has brought a former senior intelligence official into the new coalition.

Alongside De Maiziere at the interior ministry, she has appointed Klaus-Dieter Fritsche, previously deputy head of the domestic intelligence service, Germany's equivalent of MI5.

[Dec 19, 2013] Tech Leaders and Obama Find Shared Problem: Fading Public Trust

Dec 18, 2013 | NYT

For months, leading technology companies have been buffeted by revelations about government spying on their customers' data, which they believe are undermining confidence in their services.

"Both sides are saying, 'My biggest issue right now is trust,' " said Matthew Prince, co-founder and chief executive of CloudFlare, an Internet start-up. "If you're on the White House side, the issue is they're getting beaten up because they're seen as technically incompetent. On the other side, the tech industry needs the White House right now to give a stern rebuke to the N.S.A. and put in real procedures to rein in a program that feels like it's out of control."

The meeting of Mr. Obama, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and 15 executives from the likes of Apple, Google, Facebook and Yahoo came a week after those companies and other giants, usually archrivals, united in a public campaign calling for reform in government surveillance practices.

On Monday, a federal district judge ruled that the N.S.A. sweep of data from all Americans' phone calls was unconstitutional, a ruling that added import to the discussions.

...Several executives, including Ms. Mayer, the chief executive of Yahoo, expressed concerned that foreign countries may now decide to prevent all the user data generated by users in a foreign country from flowing to the United States, the people said. One such law has been proposed in Brazil. The executives said these laws would significantly hurt their businesses and America's start-up economy.

...The meeting reflected a shift in the tech sector's once-close relationship with Mr. Obama, whose 2008 election many industry executives generously supported.

Chuck Woods, ID

I don't see how there can be any trust restored until the administration changes it's outlook on Edward Snowden. Without the revelations about wholesale spying and illegal data collection by Snowden we would not even be having this national discussion. President Obama will be on the wrong side of history if he doesn't recognize the value of this issue. It would be sad if he is remembered as the president of drones and spying on citizens. Perhaps healthcare will save him from that. But isn't about time he stood up to the spooks and hawks who pull many of the levers.

Deregulate_This, Oregon

President Obama meets with these particular tech CEOs? The same ones who claim there are no CS graduates in America? The same ones who abuse the H-1B visa program and undercut American wages? The same ones who happily signed on to sell information to the C.I.A. and N.S.A.? (Our tax dollars pay for access to their data - see previous NYT articles about payouts to tech companies)

I've worked in the tech industry for 15 years and have seen massive layoffs of Americans while they send jobs overseas. Now, they are being used as Obama's advisers? What could they possibly advise? "Lower Wages" "Allow us to outsource more" "Allow us to have permanent unpaid interns" "keep paying us for private user information"?

eric glen
Hopkinton, NH

"The Adminstration told executives that government action related to NSA surveillance would happen in the new year. . . "

Yeah, and if you like your plan you can keep your plan, period.

This article to some degree depicts our President as somehow an outsider to the NSA workings.

He's the commander in chief. He could have changed the system five years ago if he wanted to.

Our President has authorized the spying that has gone on and seeks to prosecute Snowden to the fulll extent of the law. Why, because President Obama believes the government should spy on us.

If only Snowden were an "undocumented worker", he would be safe from prosecution whatever his crimes.

AdamOnDemand, Bloomingdale, NJ

Unchecked power to spy is like any other unchecked power: it corrupts, and while it may be intended for only the best reasons, it won't be used only or even primarily for them for long...

new jersey

"The president made clear his belief in an open, free and innovative Internet ". Anyone who believes that is delusional! this president and his congressional co=conspirators are the worst thing that has ever happened to the US. the last thing they believe in is something that is open let alone free. we are no longer free because they take our freedom of choice away on virtually everything. The worst part is people on the government dole don't see it or don't care. if we have not lost what we fought for during several wars then this war is even more insidious because most people are not even aware that it's being waged against them.

Brooklyn Song, Brooklyn
NYT Pick

Facebook and Google are 1) speaking with Obama about how bad the NSA spying is for business, and b) buying fiber optic cables to evade government spying out their customers (us).

In other words, giant corporations are the good guys now. Brave new world.

rcrogers6, Durham, NC

It's a little late to install a competent IT professional to run the website development contract - or should I say contracts. The mismanagement began when President Obama eschewed competent advice and turned the ACA implementation over to the White House staffers who shepherded it through Congress. This concrete demonstration of the President's lack of any managerial background and unwillingness to accept expert advice has permeated his presidency and led to the disappointment of those of us who voted for him - twice.

I cannot imagine anything concerning either of the meeting's subjects that would warrant that grin or the reciprocating smiles of the apparent sycophants. We will soon see what impact this president's ignorance and arrogance has had on the fortunes of the Democratic Party in the 2014 elections. Next time, I will try not to be influenced by a charismatic candidate and look for one who brings some experience to the table. I honestly had looked forward to change and a new era in politics. Well, in regard to the Legislative Branch, that's what I got - in the form of a disaster. The Executive, in lieu of change, has just delivered more of the same with a soupcon of additional incompetence.

alan, United States

Since it is obvious to even a blind man that the government has no real desire to protect Americans from illegal spying< I hope Brazil and other nations will pass laws that forces tech companies to keep their citizens data in their respective countries.

This will costs the tech industries billions of dollars. That is the only way they will get out of bed with the government. They can cry foul all they want to but it sounds hollows. After all, AT&T and the other phone companies turned over call records to the government after 911 without a whimper.

Maybe when enough people stop using their services or go with a company that is serious about users' privacy, Microsoft and the rest will do the right thing.

Nathan an Expat, China

The Internet companies' real concern is loss of overseas markets due to revelations they were providing voluntary and/or unwitting back door access to their customer data to US intelligence services. If their overseas clientele and their governments wake up this might lead to a "balkanisation!" of the Internet -- that translates into loss of market share for the major players. Most amusing is that major telecommunication companies like CISCO, Juniper and Alcatel who by definition have to be major players in this activity have managed with the collusion of mainstream media to keep a low profile on this. No visits to the White House for them because they are fully in line with these programs and have been for decades. Meanwhile, the US senators advise/warn foreigners not to buy telecommunication systems from China's Huawei because you know . . .

Jerry, New York

It's nice when the families get together to decide how to divide control over citizens and their money. God bless them.

Trenton, Washington, D.C.

The tech moguls are creating the devices and application that track the 99 percent's every move, thought and action--technology they sell to the federal government. They lobby for privatizing of public services so they can exert even greater control.

And, yeah, if they're not Libertarians feeding at the public trough, they're Democrats.

All it will take is one well-coordinated nationwide terrorist attack and we'll all be in virtual lock-down via technology created and peddled by these children.

Watch for the false flag.

Jim Michie, Bethesda, Maryland

What amazes me is how and why Barack Obama keeps flashing those toothy smiles. Here is a man who "gave us hope" and "promised" us so much, but delivered so little, continuing many of the ugly, dark policies of the Bush regime and adding his own. Among so many betrayals, Obama has failed to close his gulag, Guantanamo, failed to bring all of our troops home, expanded his war capabilities, failed to prosecute his felon friends on Wall Street and in the too-big-to-jail banks, launched a war on both whistleblowers and journalists, worked closely with the for-profit "health insurance industry" to create a "Frankenstein health care plan" and I could go on and on and on and on. "Fading trust," you say, New York Times? Shouldn't your headline read, "Tech Leaders and Obama Find Shared Problem: Lost Public Trust"!

John, Hartford

Reflects a shift? It actually reflects the closeness and interdependence of the relationship between government the tech industry. At times I wonder who writes these articles, 28 year old techno whizzes who may know all about IT but very little about the realities of power?

66hawk, Gainesville, VA

This article feel like empty calories to me. The characterization of the meeting is mostly critical when it seems that the fact that the meeting was held and that an exchange of viewpoints was accomplished made the meeting a success. I have no doubt that Obama will address some of the concerns that the tech industry has while still maintaining the ability to protect our nation from terrorists. The problem of getting people to trust that social media and the internet are totally secure is probably unsolvable. If you don't want someone to have access to your information, you certainly don't want to use Facebook.

Pat Choate, Washington, Va.

The expose of the NSA excesses and that Agency's linkages with these corporations is taking a heavy tool on these companies' foreign-derived bottom line and global reputation. What citizen or company in any foreign country wants to do business with a corporation that is secretly funneling their clients' data to US spy agencies.

Big Tech's concern for their profits will result in more pressures for "reforms" at NSA than anything the Congress, Courts or Administration would ever do on their own.

Steve Fankuchen, Oakland CA

The information Americans gladly give to private companies is more of a threat to individual well-being and collective democracy than the egregious data collecting of the government. The real danger is that Apple is much more popular than the government, because people understand what their iPod does for them but not what the government does for them.

The workings of the government are, compared to that of the big tech corporations, quite transparent. You may or may not like the influence of the Koch brothers money on politics, but at least it all plays out in a relatively public arena. Google not so much. And, while our electoral process is very far from perfect, you have more of an influence on that than you do on corporate policy. Have you tried voting Tim Cook or Mark Zuckerberg out of office?

What the government is doing now it has done for decades, spying with whatever tools were available. They may have new tools, but so do those they want to spy on. What is different now is that there are huge, wealthy corporations whose profit largely come from spying and espionage i.e. the collection of your info with or without your permission. And to the extent that you may have become dependent on the internet and these companies, they simply make you an offer you can't refuse.

Dean Charles Marshall, California

Steve your comment is "spot on". Our deification of technology is beyond absurd. At the end of the day the Internet has become a vast "sink hole" of distraction where tech companies rake in billions covertly pimping off our private information in exchange for bits and bits of superfluous and dubious information we crave, but for reasons we can't explain. Thanks to companies like Google, Apple and Facebook we've become a nation of techno zombies enamored with the trivial pursuit.

ronco, San Francisco

Those private companies don't intentionally weaken security and encryption standards in order to make breaking into encrypted data streams easier. Those companies make a living by ensuring the integrity of the data that you host with them. One has choices whether to give data to those companies in order to get services from them or to pay in a more traditional model. When a company is found to play loosely with data they are sussed out very quickly and very publicly. We don't have a recourse against the NSA - voting is a very slow process.

While researchers have known about the weaknesses introduced into data encryption standard algorithms by the NSA, none of them spoke up about it because of the chilling effect it would have on getting grants for their research.

It is a vicious circle that is not only strengthened by criminal prosecution but also character assassination and black listing at government levels. There's nothing inherently good or evil about corporations or their motives but I usually have a choice about where I purchase goods and services or even build my own company to compete. The fact that we can't trust our government to do the right thing and haven't been able to have that trust since 9/11 is a problem because one either has to wait for the voting process to eventually work (a generation?) or just vote with their feet.

Scientella, palo alto

Spying by the NSA is unconstitutional.
Silicon Valley has changed from a benevolent geek town to run by ruthless, parasitic, dishonest, money crazed functionaries of the policed state.

Jack O'Hanlon
San Juan Islands

Where was Cisco? If you want to ask some deep questions about a technology company that has sold billions of dollars worth of IP routing and switching equipment worldwide that now seems to have engineered back door access for the NSA, Cisco would be the banner carrier.

No subsea system, no terrestrial network can function without Cisco equipment in line somewhere. When Cisco claims it drives the Internet, it is not kidding.

Ironic in this is the fact that Cisco has lobbied to keep Huawei out of U.S. carrier networks based on "security issues" that have been discussed in general terms, ie, backdoors that would allow the Chinese to compromise U.S. communications.

It now seems that Cisco had some direct experience in understanding this sort of activity.

You can't pick off photonic transmissions (the fiber optic cable hacks revealed in the Snowden documents) unless you can hack the IP routers that send the traffic across the cables. A pure photonic hack is a futuristic endeavour, one that can be conducted so long as the producer of all optic routing has built in back door access at the laser level. Not so easy. All optic routing is called O-O-O, for optical-optical-optical transmission and destination routing of Internet Protocol traffic.

Bill Appledorf, British Columbia

Give me a break.

Corporate America spies on everyone to personalize the limits of the cognitive sandbox each consumer wanders in.

The NSA's job is to make sure no one extricates themselves from virtual reality, discovers the planet Earth, and finds out what global capitalism has been doing to it and the people who live here.

Information technology and covert intelligence are the public and secret sides of one and the same coin.

Cisco, Juniper, Alcatel, Huawei and a scant few others build what are called - O-E-O routers, for optical-electrical-optical transmission. The NSA is hacking the E part of this, with the vendors' potential help, obviously.

Bruce, San Diego, CA

I believe I have a way to regain the public trust: Give Mr. Snowden permission to re-enter the US, give him a Presidential pardon and award him the Congressional Gold Metal. Mr. Snowden maybe labeled a traitor by some in government; if so he is in fine company: Mr. King, Mr. Gandhi, Mr. Mandela, Mr. Patrick Henry. All of whom have been called "Traitor" and all of whom like Mr. Snowden shook up the established order for the betterment of society. Some like Mr. King, Gandhi & Henry paid the ultimate price for their beliefs.

Mr. Snowden has done more to advance the cause of freedom in the US and around the world than anyone for a long, long time. In the process he has made the "Powers That Be" very uncomfortable. Well done Sir!

borntorun45, NY

Do you feel that Snowden should be granted a Presidential pardon for cheating on the exam to obtain employment as a contractor for the NSA in Hawaii with the specific intent of mining data that he should not have had access to in the first place? Maybe you feel that Snowden should be pardoned for absconding to Hong Kong with his stolen files - do you find his fleeing the country of his own accord particularly heroic, proper, or necessary? Or, should he receive a pardon for then making that intelligence available to people who have profited by the purloined intelligence by publishing it for all the world to see, jeopardizing America's security and causing a strain on foreign relations?

Snowden carefully planned his mission, he didn't simply come upon the "leaked files" through his work in Hawaii - he has admitted to taking the job with Booz Allen specifically to obtain the files he stole. He was so much more than a whistleblower - he broke into and entered areas of the NSA he had no legal access to, and he download millions of files. Imagine anyone working in private business doing such a thing, let alone someone who took an oath of secrecy.

How exactly has "Mr. Snowden... done more to advance the cause of freedom in the US and around the world"? We are all being watched whenever we use our computers, cell phones, debit cards - it's the digital age, my friend, and the US government's surveillance of you should be the least of your worries.

Che Beauchard, Manhattan

Can't the photo shown with this article be used as evidence in a trial for a RICO violation? Surely the government has become a Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization in collusion with these corporations.

infinityON, NJ

Sorry, I am having a hard time believing that Google and Facebook are concerned about their users privacy. They are more worried about their bottom lines due to the Snowden revelations. And we can add in the Obama Administration not being concerned about Americans privacy.

Patrick Dugan, Berkeley, CA

Google's entire business is built on respecting the privacy of their users. Sure they've misstepped in the past, usually not on purpose, but the presumption that they blatantly disrespect users and their privacy is uninformed.

Colenso, Cairns

'Try working part time at WalMart for awhile and then tell me that the NSA is your biggest problem.' ~ paul, CA

I sympathise. Nevertheless, if you are a resident of a US town where there's a Walmart or some such, you can choose whether or not to work for Wal-Mart Stores Inc or for some other exploitative US employer. If you don't like it, then you can improve your qualifications or skills, move to another town or even another country. That's always been the American way.

No one, however, US citizen or non-citizen, resident or non-resident in the USA, has any direct say whatsoever in what the US National Security Agency decides to do to you. Even the so-called 'courts' that oversee the NSA admit no litigant to the proceedings.

To take up your challenge, therefore, with the exception of those who live in North Korea and similar jurisdictions, I say yes - the NSA *is* everyone's biggest problem.

[Dec 11, 2013] In Poverty, Under Surveillance

Date of event: Thursday, December 12, 2013 - 12:15pm - 1:45pm

For most Americans, news of NSA's domestic spying program was shocking. But for one group, living under government surveillance is routine--people in poverty. For families and individuals accessing the public benefits system, ceding extensive personal and financial information and submitting to unannounced home visits, fingerprinting or drug testing are the cost of receiving assistance. And for some policy makers, these intrusions still don't go far enough in regulating who receives these benefits and how they are used.

Surveillance of poor families raises questions with universal relevance: What are the implications of having different standards of privacy based on financial status? Under what circumstances can our privacy be transacted away, and where are the limits? What responsibility do government agencies have to protect personal information? Is technology keeping our information safer, or putting it more at risk?

To unpack these questions, New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute, Asset Building Program, and Breadwinners and Caregivers Program are hosting a discussion to explore the dynamics of privacy, surveillance and technology in the context of people's lived experiences with poverty and the public assistance system. Please join us for this timely and vital conversation.

[Dec 11, 2013] NSA uses Google cookies to pinpoint targets for hacking By Ashkan Soltani, Andrea Peterson, and Barton Gellman

December 10, 2013 |

A slide from an internal NSA presentation indicating that the agency uses at least one Google cookie as a way to identify targets for exploitation. (Washington Post)

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.

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.

For years, privacy advocates have raised concerns about the use of commercial tracking tools to identify and target consumers with advertisements. The online ad industry has said its practices are innocuous and benefit consumers by serving them ads that are more likely to be of interest to them.

The revelation that the NSA is piggybacking on these commercial technologies could shift that debate, handing privacy advocates a new argument for reining in commercial surveillance.

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.

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.

Separately, the NSA is also using commercially gathered information to help it locate mobile devices around the world, the documents show. Many smartphone apps running on iPhones and Android devices, and the Apple and Google operating systems themselves, track the location of each device, often without a clear warning to the phone's owner. This information is more specific than the broader location data the government is collecting from cellular phone networks, as reported by the Post last week.

"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."

These specific slides do not indicate how the NSA obtains Google PREF cookies or whether the company cooperates in these programs, but other documents reviewed by the Post indicate that cookie information is among the data NSA can obtain with a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act order. If the NSA gets the data that way, the companies know and are legally compelled to assist.

The NSA declined to comment on the specific tactics outlined in this story, but an NSA spokesman sent the Post a statement: "As we've said before, NSA, within its lawful mission to collect foreign intelligence to protect the United States, uses intelligence tools to understand the intent of foreign adversaries and prevent them from bringing harm to innocent Americans."

Google declined to comment for this article, but chief executive Larry Page joined the leaders of other technology companies earlier this week in calling for an end to bulk collection of user data and for new limits on court-approved surveillance requests. "The security of users' data is critical, which is why we've invested so much in encryption and fight for transparency around government requests for information," Page said in a statement on the coalition's Web site. "This is undermined by
the apparent wholesale collection of data, in secret and without independent oversight, by many governments around the world."

How consumers are tracked online

Internet companies store small files called cookies on users' computers to uniquely identify them for ad-targeting and other purposes across many different Web sites. This advertising-driven business model pays for many of the services, like e-mail accounts, that consumers have come to expect to have for free. Yet few are aware of the full extent to which advertisers, services and Web sites track their activities across the Web and mobile devices. These data collection mechanisms are invisible to all but the most sophisticated users -- and the tools to opt-out or block them have limited effectiveness.

Privacy advocates have pushed to create a "Do Not Track" system allowing consumers to opt out of such tracking. But Jonathan Mayer of Stanford's Center for Internet and Society, who has been active in that push, says "Do Not Track efforts are stalled out." They ground to a halt when the Digital Advertising Alliance, a trade group representing online ad companies, abandoned the effort in September after clashes over the proposed policy. One of the primary issues of contention was whether consumers would be able to opt out of all tracking, or just not be served advertisements based on tracking.

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.

Google's PREF Cookie

Google assigns a unique PREF cookie anytime someone's browser makes a connection to any of the company's Web properties or services. This can occur when consumers directly use Google services such as Search or Maps, or when they visit Web sites that contain embedded "widgets" for the company's social media platform Google Plus. That cookie contains a code that allows Google to uniquely track users to "personalize ads" and measure how they use other Google products.

Given the widespread use of Google services and widgets, most Web users are likely to have a Google PREF cookie even if they've never visited a Google property directly.

That PREF cookie is specifically mentioned in an internal NSA slide, which reference the NSA using GooglePREFID, their shorthand for the unique numeric identifier contained within Google's PREF cookie. Special Source Operations (SSO) is an NSA division that works with private companies to scoop up data as it flows over the Internet's backbone and from technology companies' own systems. The slide indicates that SSO was sharing information containing "logins, cookies, and GooglePREFID" with another NSA division called Tailored Access Operations, which engages in offensive hacking operations. SSO also shares the information with the British intelligence agency GCHQ.

"This shows a link between the sort of tracking that's done by Web sites for analytics and advertising and NSA exploitation activities," says Ed Felten, a computer scientist at Princeton University. "By allowing themselves to be tracked for analytic or advertising at least some users are making themselves more vulnerable to exploitation."

This isn't the first time Google cookies have been highlighted in the NSA's attempts to identify targets to hack. A presentation released in October by the Guardian called "Tor Stinks" indicates that the agency was using cookies for, Google's third-party advertising service, in an attempt to identify users of the Internet anonymization tool Tor when they switched to regular browsing. "It's similar in the sense that you see the use of an unique ID in the cookie to allow an eavesdropper to connect the activities of a user over time," says Felten.

[Dec 10, 2013] NSA and GCHQ infiltrate online gaming live chat – we answer your questions by James Ball

December 9, 2013 | The Guardian

The NSA and its UK counterpart GCHQ have deployed agents into the massive online gaming community, according to documents disclosed by whistleblower Edward Snowden. The files were obtained by the Guardian and are being published on Monday in partnership with the New York Times and ProPublica.

What you need to know:


Calling gamer communities "target-rich" seems like an excuse to trawl a load of data just because it's there.

Were these examples of WoW, Second Life and Xbox Live chosen because of their popularity?

I'm guessing this is really small scale too(?).

I would have though that Xbox Live was more likely to flag up a load of pro-US warmongering chatter than anything else. Maybe that brings the bad guys in(?)

Brian Goetz

We know from advertising that combining big data with advanced computer learning algorithms and processing power can be incredibly effective when it comes to predicting behavior.

The more data you collect over time and the more data points you can map together, the more accurately you can predict what people are likely to do both on and offline.

Most companies are limited in terms of what they can collect and how it can be pieced together, but the NSA and GCHQ are not following the same rules it seems.

How dangerous is all this data in aggregate and how well will they be able to predict human behavior if this is allowed to continue? Appears to have potential as a weapon in many ways that no government would want to give up.


I think the real story here is the security services are wasting money playing games because nobody in government has the balls to challenge them not even Ed Balls.

I bet MI5 agents are also crawling Birmingham's finest gentlemen's clubs looking for "terrorists" in the crevices of lovely ladies, hiding out in top class restaurants and scouting football crowds from the hospitality suit as it has the best view of the crowd apparently.

Breaking news Terrorists may go to see the new Hobbit film so MI6 have sent a crack team to check it out and have got a man inside to make sure they are given the extra popcorn to aid their spying.


American Military Guys spying on my kids playing in their bedroom.


lost alex -> Dzjebe

These games are a public arena. When you go on them, you should treat it just like being in public. It's just like Twitter. You should know that everyone can see you and what you say. It's a public space.



If you're not doing anything wrong this should not worry you. Just like speed cameras.

monkie Dowling1981

ill be round your house tomorrow first thing to install camera's and microphones in your bathroom and your children's bedroom(s), after all, i am sure you are not doing anything wrong in your bathroom, nor are your children in their bedroom....


This all just one big game of Pacman.

The NSA & GCHQ are the ghosts.

The Guardian and Wikileaks are the power pellets.

You're the Pacman


NSA can track you in real time over Warcraft 2 and Warcraft 3 as well, I believe. There is an MS data file that is saved to your hard drive. Does WoW and Second Life have these same MS data files? That is how the data is collected by MS and hence by the NSA, in my opinion. What's scary is the real time ability for people to somehow track you into anonymous randomized games, one match after the other.

Thank god I went on official record before this came out.


Over 1200 game developers have integrated the gamespy api into their titles. The api monitors real-time gameplay actions and creates profiles on individual gamers. The data is stored in the cloud indefinitely. Although game developers may deny that they are aware of any use of this data by the NSA or GCHQ, the data can simply be pulled off the internet by the NSA who may have technical details on the gamespy messaging formats. It is also likely that there is some collaboration between gamespy and the NSA.

If you are a gamer, you should expect that all of your actions made in online games have been logged and stored away for further analysis by the NSA.


i have a question, the guardian has spent a lot of time reviewing the new xbox, but the reviewers generally seem to rubbish the idea that the always kinect features can be used to spy on us or our children, as it is known that companies are required to lie about collaborating with the NSA and others in the name of national security will the guardian now be more critical of devices such as these made by companies that are known to collaborate and will the guardian do a proper investigation into the surveillance capabilities of the new xbox, preferably with the cooperation of some real computing and security experts.

if i can ask another question, considering the exalted company of journalists joining the Q&A, it is of course rare to hear from a reported from that famed organisation that gave us judith miller and the cheerleading of the iraq war, that sat on the story of warrantless wire-tapping until after the re-election of bush, i wonder if anyone can touch on the subject of trust in the 4th estate, with the editors of newspapers gatekeeping and redacting the snowden documents how can we ever know what the depth of these revelations are, how can we begin to attempt to effect change when it seems that even the so called counterbalance of the state appears to be doing the bidding of the state.
i play games, it is not really news to me that games are monitored, it is nice to have some documentary proof but what is really new here, where is the real meat?


Since most of the famous games are publicly online it doesn't come as a surprise, but it is shocking! Come on, if Facebook is monitored...

Write wrongs! Over 500 world-famous authors sign anti-surveillance petition

RT News

More than 500 renowned authors – including five Nobel laureates - from across the globe have signed a petition demanding an end to 'mass surveillance'. It follows the revelations over the last few months of the US and other countries spying.

Their open appeal is called 'A Stand for Democracy in the Digital Age'. Among the signatories are Nobel laureates Orhan Pamuk, JM Coetzee, Elfriede Jelinek, Günter Grass and Tomas Tranströmer.

Others who signed the letter include Bjork, Umberto Eco, Yann Martel, Ian McEwan and many others.

"WE DEMAND THE RIGHT for all people, as democratic citizens, to determine to what extent their personal data may be collected, stored and processed, and by whom; to obtain information on where their data is stored and how it is being used; to obtain the deletion of their data if it has been illegally collected and stored. WE CALL ON ALL STATES AND CORPORATIONS to respect these rights," the open appeal read.

It adds that "a person under surveillance is no longer free; a society under surveillance is no longer a democracy. To maintain any validity, our democratic rights must apply in virtual as in real space."

The letter also calls for the creation by the UN an International Bill of Digital Rights.

Everyone is invited to sign the open appeal at

The petition comes in the wake of massive revelations by Edward Snowden that disclosed surveillance all over the globe carried out by NSA.

In the latest incident, it has been revealed that the NSA and the UK's GCHQ spying agencies collected players' charts and deployed real-life agents into the World of Warcraft and Second Life online games.

The move was organized by a group of independent authors who made it possible through personal contacts and private networks.

Danish writer, Janne Teller, one of the organizers, told the Daily Mail that the authors' community is "really very worried about mass surveillance" which is "undermining democracy totally."

"I think it's quite significant when you have 560 or so of the greatest contemporary writers, from all across the world, expressing a very serious concern, because these are people who always work on the big philosophical questions of life. Hopefully their concern matters to politicians," Teller added.

The concern listed by the appeal's organizers is reflected in statistics.

A recent survey by the writers' rights group PEN discovered that 85 percent of its US members are worried about government surveillance, according to the organization's report.

Twenty-eight percent had also curbed their social media use, while 24 percent are avoiding certain topics in phone and email conversations.

[Dec 8, 2013] Documents Say Phones Outside U.S. Are Tracked By JAMES GLANZ

December 4, 2013 |

The National Security Agency is tracking the location and movements of hundreds of millions of cellphones outside the United States in an effort to find suspicious travel patterns or coordinated activities by intelligence targets, according to secret documents leaked by the former N.S.A. contractor Edward J. Snowden.

To carry out the tracking, the agency collects nearly five billion records on cellphones outside the United States each day from taps on fiber optic cables and other communication conduits that carry cellphone traffic, the documents say. Enough of that data is saved to track a small fraction of the phones over time.

The documents and the tracking program were described by The Washington Post on Wednesday.

Cellphone calls, text messages and other traffic must be routed through global networks from the caller or sender to the intended recipient - another cellphone, for example. That routing is guided by so-called metadata, which acts as a sort of addressing system for the network. The metadata inevitably contains information about where a call originated, and therefore the location of a cellphone.

In October, The New York Times reported that the agency carried out a secret test project in 2010 and 2011 to collect large amounts of data on the location of Americans' cellphones inside the United States. James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, confirmed the existence of the test program but said that it was never put into practice.

[Dec 06, 2013] NSA Tracking Cellphone Locations Worldwide

December 05, 2013 | Slashdot

tramp writes "The National Security Agency is gathering nearly 5 billion records a day on the whereabouts of cellphones around the world, according to top-secret documents and interviews with U.S. intelligence officials, enabling the agency to track the movements of individuals - and map their relationships - in ways that would have been previously unimaginable. Of course it is 'only metadata' and absolutely not invading privacy if you ask our 'beloved' NSA." Pretty soon, the argument about whether you have in any given facet of your life a "reasonable expectation of privacy" may take on a whole new meaning. Also at Slash BI.

SecurityGuy (217807)
Reasonable expectations (Score:5, Insightful)

Pretty soon, the argument about whether you have in any given facet of your life a "reasonable expectation of privacy" may take on a whole new meaning.

No, it absolutely will not. People need to get through their heads that just because your rights are violated, that doesn't mean expecting them not to be becomes unreasonable. If someone breaks into your house every day, it doesn't become "reasonable" for them to do so, or unreasonable for you to expect people to stay out of your house.

The logic espoused by the quoted idea is the same as saying if police were to start strip searching everyone without cause, it would be reasonable simply because it always happens.

Stop that.

TheNastyInThePasty (2382648) writes: on Thursday December 05, 2013 @12:33PM (#45609445)
Re:Reasonable expectations (Score:4, Informative)


"No one forced you to use the train/subway/bus so of course they should be able to search you" (Already happening)

"No one forced you to drive on public roads so of course they should be able to search you" (They are working on deploying scanner tech for the roadside right now)

"No one forced you to use public sidewalks so of course they should be able to search you"

Uh. I guess I'll stay in my house?

lagomorpha2 (1376475)

Re:Reasonable expectations (Score:4, Informative)

Don't underestimate how readily willing humans are to adapt. There are places in the world where having your house broken into every day has nearly become the norm and people have decided to adapt to the new situation instead of fighting it.

If you want to fight something like this you have to do it before it becomes the accepted norm.

[Nov 19, 2013] Norway admits it carried out phone surveillance for NSA

The NSA claims it does not collect content on the communications, but rather the 'meta data', such as the duration of the calls, the telephone numbers of the caller and the call recipient, and the location of the phone at the time the call was placed.

Before it was known that Norwegian intelligence was collecting the meta data on telephone calls, as opposed to the NSA, Oslo was criticizing the reports alleging American spying.

"It is unacceptable for allies to engage in intelligence against each other's political leadership," Norwegian justice minister Anders Anundsen said in a statement after the report was published on Tuesday.

Jens Stoltenberg, Norway's prime minister at the time the NSA was reportedly casting its net, said that he had not been informed of the monitoring when he discussed the situation with senior US officials after news of the NSA revelations was making headlines in June.


October 26, 2013 | Eric Margolis

"Gentlemen do not read other gentlemen's mail" sniffed US Secretary of State Henry Stimson in 1929 when told that American cryptographers had broken Japan's naval and diplomatic codes.

Stimson, who later headed the War Department, ordered code-breaking shut down.

Alas, there are not any old-school gentlemen left in Washington these days. Revelations of US electronic spying by whistleblower Edward Snowden have ignited a furor across Latin America and now Europe.

This week's uproar was intensified by claims that the US National Security Agency (NSA) had tapped into the cell phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Europe's most important and influential leader. Further outrage erupted in France after reports that its leaders and diplomats had been tapped by NSA's big ears.

To no surprise, President Obama officially denied listening in to Merkel's calls. A US source sought to lessen the damage by claiming NSA had only tapped her office phone, not her cell phone. German anger was not assuaged.

Back in the day, French Interior Ministers – notably Nicholas Sarkozy – used to stay up late poring over wire taps of fellow officials' peccadillos. That was good fun. Today, by contrast, the NSA and CIA are sweeping up all communications of supposed allies as part of the runaway US national security state. Call it the Stasi meets Apple's late Steve Jobs.

Last month alone, NSA reportedly sifted through 70 million French phone calls, text and email under the lame pretext of fighting terrorism. What NSA was really finding were the phone numbers of prominent Frenchmen's mistresses or boyfriends – very useful for CIA blackmail ops – and important commercial information. Terrorism is a red herring. NSA's run amok spying, allegedly to combat "terrorism," is making a lot of Americans wonder again about the events of 9/11 that triggered the explosion of America's spy state, restrictive laws, and foreign wars.

Still, one wonders if President Obama knew what his spies were doing. He has little control over the Pentagon and probably even less over America's mammoth, ever-growing spy state built by former President George W. Bush that costs over $80 billion per annum. Some 4.8 million Americans now have secret security clearance and work for the octopod national security state.

Obama would not be the first president not to know what his spooks were up to. But he should have been this time. Bugging the leaders of America's closest European and Latin American allies was an incredibly stupid act. Nothing thereby learned could have been worth the damage caused.

US Elint (electronic spying) has humiliated European and Latin leaders and made them and NATO look like American vassals to be dismissed or disdained.

How can Europe's leaders face their own voters after this shameful episode? Revelations by Snowdon and Army private Bradley Manning show that Washington treats its NATO allies in the same imperious manner the old Soviet Union bossed around the Warsaw Pact.

Europe's leaders are under mounting pressure to demonstrate their independence of Uncle Sam by taking some stern retaliatory action against US interests.

A starting point would be building a brand-new electronic communications architecture for Western Europe that resists US penetration, and creating a truly independent Europe military capability. Time for Europe to stop being foot soldiers to America's nuclear knights.

US reputation in Europe and Latin America is now at an all-time low. The next NSA spying scandals will likely come from the Mideast, India and Pakistan, Canada, South Korea and Japan. Obama may be remembered as having gotten the world even angrier at the US than predecessor George W. Bush – quite an accomplishment.

Washington claims "everyone does spying." True enough, but no one is anywhere close to NSA's giant vacuum cleaner and all-hearing bugs. What the US has been doing is far more than information gathering against a handful of anti-American militants. It's heavy-duty intimidation. A reminder that Big Brother is watching and listening.

The deeply corrupt US Congress won't do much to curtail NSA's information theft. Too many of its members profit from market trades made on the basis of NSA snooping.

The question remains: how come US foreign policy is such a mess considering that Uncle Sam is listening to everyone's phone and reading their mail?

[Nov 12, 2013] NSA 'hacked Google and Yahoo's data centre links', Snowden documents say by Barton Gellman , Ashkan Soltani

30 October 2013 | The Independent

The US National Security Agency (NSA), in collaboration with the UK government's listening station GCHQ, has secretly broken into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centres around the world, according to interviews with knowledgeable officials and documents obtained from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Click image above to enlarge graphic

By tapping those links, the agency can collect at will from among hundreds of millions of user accounts. The NSA does not keep everything it collects, but it keeps a lot.

According to a top-secret document dated 9 January 2013, NSA's acquisitions directorate sends millions of records every day from Yahoo and Google internal networks to data warehouses at the agency's Fort Meade headquarters. In the preceding 30 days, the report said, field collectors had processed and sent back 181,280,466 new records, ranging from "metadata", which indicates who sent or received emails and when, to content such as text, audio and video.

The NSA's principal tool to exploit the data links is a project called Muscular, operated jointly with GCHQ. From undisclosed interception points, the NSA and GCHQ are copying entire data flows across fibre-optic cables that carry information between the Silicon Valley giants.

The infiltration is striking because the NSA, under a separate programme known as Prism, has front-door access to Google and Yahoo user accounts through a court-approved process.

The Muscular project appears to be an unusually aggressive use of NSA tradecraft against flagship American companies. The agency has a wide range of tools for high-tech spying, but it has not been known to use them routinely against US companies.

White House officials and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the NSA, declined to confirm, deny or explain the agency's infiltration of Google and Yahoo networks overseas.

In a statement, Google said it was "troubled by allegations of the government intercepting traffic between our data centres, and we are not aware of this activity".

The company added: "We have long been concerned about the possibility of this kind of snooping, which is why we continue to extend encryption across more and more Google services and links.".

At Yahoo, a spokeswoman said: "We have strict controls in place to protect the security of our data centres, and we have not given access to our data centres to the NSA or to any other government agency."

[Nov 10, 2013] Don't Spy on Friends by Patrick J. Buchanan

"The Cold War was a clash of ideologies and empires for the future of the world. Men took drastic measures to preserve what they had. At the end of the Cold War, the old tactics and measures were not set aside, but improved upon, and now are no longer restricted for use against the likes of al-Qaeda but against allies.
At the Cold War's end, the late Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick talked hopefully of America becoming again "a normal country in a normal time." Seems as though the normal times are never coming back."
The American Conservative

Last week, we learned that a high official of the U.S. government turned 200 private phone numbers of 35 friendly foreign leaders, basically the Rolodex of the president, over to the NSA for tapping and taping. Allied leaders, with whom America works toward common goals, have for years apparently had their private conversations listened to, transcribed, and passed around. Angela Merkel has apparently been the subject of phone taps since before she rose to the leadership of Germany. A victim of the East German Stasi, Ms. Merkel is not amused.

We are told not to be naïve; everyone does it. Spying, not only between enemies but among allies, is commonplace. But why are we doing this? Is it all really about coping with the terrorist threat? Or is it because we have the ability to do it, and the more information we have, even stolen surreptitiously from friends and allies, the better?

... ... ...

In the Nixon White House, there were serious leaks that revealed our secret bombing of Communist sanctuaries in Cambodia and of our fallback position in the strategic arms talks. Wiretaps were planted on aides to Henry Kissinger and White House staffers who had no knowledge of what had been leaked. Relationships were altered, some poisoned for a lifetime.

Why should we not expect a similar reaction among foreign friends who discover their personal and political secrets have been daily scooped up and filed by their American friends, and found their way into the president's daily intelligence brief?

The Cold War was a clash of ideologies and empires for the future of the world. Men took drastic measures to preserve what they had. At the end of the Cold War, the old tactics and measures were not set aside, but improved upon, and now are no longer restricted for use against the likes of al-Qaeda but against allies.

At the Cold War's end, the late Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick talked hopefully of America becoming again "a normal country in a normal time." Seems as though the normal times are never coming back.

[Nov 10, 2013] NSA Blowback

The American Conservative

I am sure that there are some issues that Merkel might discuss on her phone that would be of interest to U.S. policy makers, but it is difficult to imagine that anyone rooted in reality would actually think the operation would be worth the potential risk of exposure. Moreover, aggressive efforts to learn what allies are doing is not limited to NSA. CIA likewise has a history of running operations that are highly risky for relatively little actual gain. In the 1970s and 1980s, a number of European heads of government and political party leaders had their phones and even their residences bugged by the Agency even though there was little actual need to do so. When certain heads of state and government would travel, the Agency would attempt to wire their hotel rooms. Nearly every large CIA station had a technical officer on hand and many had locally recruited telephone company employees on board as assets. Case Officers overseas routinely collect the phone numbers of foreign diplomats and officials. Many of the operations were run just because the technical resources existed to do the tapping. In some cases, a risky operation would be attempted just because it was challenging and would be viewed positively by Agency senior management. One foreign government conference room had microphones installed in it, but the information was found to be so high level and exclusive that actually using it would immediately expose the source, so it was switched off.

There are always arguments being made that the intelligence agencies should "do more." The U.S. government justified CIA escapades prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union because it feared that secret maneuvers of European coalition governments had to be monitored lest fraternal communist parties in Western Europe obtain power and tilt dramatically towards Moscow, but that was a flawed argument from the start. Only in France did the Confederation Generale du Travail support introduction of a hard-line Soviet-style regime, while the parties in Italy, Spain, and Portugal were known to be wary of any strong identification with the Soviet Union. The threat of a communist takeover of Western Europe was essentially a fantasy spawned by the cold war.

CIA efforts to thwart communist participation in government were frequently successful, but, in retrospect, many of the schemes concocted on the fly to counter the red menace turned out to be counterproductive, actually eroding the development of stable democracies in postwar Europe. In Italy, for example, CIA interfered in elections through the 1970s. The U.S. government's support of the various unstable coalitions propped up around the Christian Democrats ultimately had a negative effect by institutionalizing corruption at a level that continues to this day, a classic case of blowback. It ironically also empowered the communists, making them appear as genuine nationalists resisting American hegemony.

... ... ...

It should be conceded that the United States government now collects all sorts of information that has no plausible connection to national security, including the random accumulation of private information on United States citizens. The Snowden revelations about NSA in particular reveal a government that engages in massive spying and information collection worldwide, 24/7, just because it is capable of doing so. The United States has been embarrassed by the recent spying disclosures, rightly so, but the damage is much greater than that.

No one, friend or foe, can any longer believe that there is some rational process that guides United States national security initiatives. It is like an unthinking predatory beast that has been unchained, and now lashing out in all directions with little discrimination or sense of proportion. If important nations like Germany, France, and Brazil recalibrate their relationships with Washington, it can only damage America's ability to exercise any foreign policy leadership in a situation where it actually matters. Though given the kind of decision making we have seen emanating from the White House over the past twelve years, it is perhaps just as well that that is the case.

[Nov 09, 2013] The Unintended 'Economic' Consequences Of The NSA's 'Bulk' Spying

Zero Hedge


I agree with this will, on the margin (which is all that matters), cause a receding in business at the Googles, Microsofts, Yahoo!s, etc.

I think it's already beginning:

Google's Schmidt's recent article in the WSJ slamming the NSA was a blatant and faux 'we're not fascists' plea to the people who are quietly adopting Linux O/S, Firefox, Duck Duck Go, Ghostery, and other techniques to opt out of Google's information gathering abilities and thus bring a hammer down on their ability to print money.

While earnings are likely not an issue at this point, is this starting to hit on the margin?
Time will tell.

[Nov 07, 2013] Former NSA Codebreaker: I Tried To Tell People About Government Spying

November 5, 2013 | CBS Baltimore

BALTIMORE (WJZ) - A former NSA codebreaker reveals that more than a decade ago, he tried to expose government spying on every day Americans.

The Maryland man tells Mary Bubala he blew the whistle long before anyone heard of Edward Snowden–but no one would listen.

WJZ investigates his story and the price he paid.

Sept. 11, 2001 was the day that changed everything. After the attack, the government vowed to find a more sophisticated way to uncover terrorists' plots.

William Binney was called on to help. A mathematician and codebreaker for decades, Binney commuted from his home in Severn to the National Security Agency in Fort Meade to work on top secret projects.

"We would map the relationships of everybody in the world," Binney said.

After 9/11, Binney and a small team created a computer program constantly scanning data from cell phones and emails aimed at finding terrorist activity.

"The idea was how can you look into terabytes of data going by every minute and see what's important in that data that you need to pull out to look at and analyze to figure out intentions, capabilities of potential enemies in the world," he said.

But Binney soon became concerned that the government was spying on average Americans.

"The data that was being taken in was all about United States citizens," he said. "They're destroying our democracy is what they're doing."

Controversy about the tracking program went public earlier this year when another Maryland man, Edward Snowden, leaked classified documents. However, WJZ has learned Congress may have had a warning about this years ago. That's when Binney says he first raised concerns his program had been turned against Americans.

"The government can't admit a mistake," Binney said. "They have to cover up everything."

Binney resigned in protest, and that's when his problems really started.

"That was 2007 when the FBI raided me," he said. "They pushed their way in with guns drawn and pushed my son out of the way and came upstairs and pointed guns at my wife and me. They took our computers and all the electronic equipment we had."

The government thinks Binney overstepped the boundaries and possibly put the country at risk by coming forward and exposing some of the things he thought were wrong.

"I think they're violating the foundation of this country. The thing that makes this country strong are the rights and freedoms that we have in the Constitution," he said.

But not everybody thinks the government has gone too far. Both Presidents Bush and Obama have said the program is necessary and doesn't violate citizens' rights. Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger, a ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, agrees.

"There's not one incident I know of that there has been a person intentionally trying to look at anyone's phone calls or emails. Not one," Ruppersberger said.

Binney doesn't buy it.

"I would say he doesn't really know what NSA is doing because he doesn't understand the technology or what it takes to find terrorists," Binney said.

Binney says he thinks Edward Snowden did a great public service by forcing NSA surveillance into the spotlight.

Ed Snowden's Posse of Discontent is in full force today...enjoying yet another day off from looking for a job and contributing to society.

I have tried to get any one of them to provide examples of the fears they have manufactured, but apparently it takes more than fifty or so idiots to come up with one answer.

They all continue to go off topic, cast dispersions toward me or the government, but never address the issue of:

"Who has been impacted by the NSA spying - just one concrete example of one US citizen, their name/location and a link to the story.

But, there isn't one, just like the USG has told them, but they ignore that with even more distractions.

"There's not one incident I know of that there has been a person intentionally trying to look at anyone's phone calls or emails. Not one," Ruppersberger said.

The instigators are antagonistic anarchist who try to appeal to the ignorant in an attempt to convince them of whatever fears they concoct, but none of which can be proven. Their minds are great at promoting the propaganda of possibilities, but they lack the ability to substantiate even one shred of reality with an example, facts are, non existent.

These guys have piled on with rants about Obama, a government out of control, the TEA party's brilliance and dedication to saving America, Obama, Snowden being a hero, Socialism, Nazi's, Obama, 4th Amendment, 1st Amendment, Marxism, conspiracy theories Ad nausea, false logic, twisted logic, Obama, anything and everything except one example of someone impacted by the reported spying.

Fact is, no one person was impacted. Ostensibly we all were, as collateral damage in a program designed to save these same ungrateful clowns from the enemy that truly hates them. They bemoan the actions of a government run by their neighbors, their family members, their friends - all true patriots but all supposedly co-opted by a corrupt government intent on changing the American way of life. It would be funny if their rants were not so vile and angry - showing the undertow of distrust for a monster only their collective mind has created. They have let their minds go so awry, that they can't even be honest with their assessment of someone who is charged with espionage and continues to release stolen classified documents to further damage US interest, here and abroad.

"They say even death can't cure an idiot." so my time here is wasted, but neither my reason or my heart has been changed by their lopsided view of justice.
Snowden is a traitor to his country and I can only hope that at some point, Snowden is brought to justice and tried in a court of law where facts will prove his guilt or innocence - not the lame brain antics of a small confederation of tiny minds that get together via Twitter alerts to post their pablum of probability simply to effect discontent.

With that, I have no more time for morons and I hope you all find something better to do with your time.

And to you Ed Snowden - If I could look you in the eye, I would tell you unequivocally that I hate what you have done to my country with your naive and presumptuous accusations against my country. The USA is NOT your country any more. You forfeited that privilege when you made the decision to steal and flee the country of your birth, to reveal documents that have nothing to do with protecting US citizen's personal freedoms and everything to do with your naive view of the world and intent to damage US interest.

You Ed Snowden, betrayed the trust of your country and you are a traitor.


"There's not one incident I know of..." is the classic weakest worthless statement. Something one would use in a court of law to defend oneself, but not in any way a statement as to the existence of, or knowledge of by others, the subject matter.


But, things have changed. Binney worked at a time when all the data rushed by and there wasn't the capacity to store it all. Now, all data can be preserved indefinitely and back searched so the problem is significantly greater.


What actual damage, troll? Name something specific.


Snowden disclosed sources and methods allowing our enemies to change their methods of's been in all the you read much in the news or just those that appeal to your arrogant opinions?

You mad bro? Cause you seem pretty mad based on all the name calling and childish antics...YOU are a piece work, grow up and try to reach deep and get your little frilly girlie panties out of a wad.

Now that I have answered your lame brain questions, please give me one example of one US Citizen who has ever reported being damaged by the NSA spying programs you guys so love to whine about. Just ONE? Come on you can at least muster up another lie, it's worth a shot. You can do it McFly, chicken! Chick, chick, chick, CHICKEN!

Bring it you little whiny baby...take a stand. ChIcken!




Patrick R > Yeziam12

My enemies are those who destroy the Constitution and prose a great danger to the American way of life....The NSA and other, unaccountable government agencies seem to fit that bill these days.

Yeziam12 > Patrick R


Patrick R > Yeziam12

I find your support of Big Brother's shredding of the Constitution to be much more traitorous. Good to know that you are in the minority in these discussions.

oceanluvr30 > Yeziam12

I bet you long for the old USSR. What our government is doing with the NSA would make the old KGB green with envy.


Snowden is a HERO to liberty loving Americans. Fascist of course will hate him.

Yeziam12 > CB

What has Snowden ever done for his country?

Veteran - NO!
Honorable Service - NO!
American - NO!

Thief - YES!
Traitor - YES!
Shared secrets with the enemy - YES!

Do Snowden's actions seem like a "HERO" to anyone other than his mealy mouth supporters who are twisting the truth in an attempt to harm the USA?

You might also consider, if they're not Americans, who are they and where do they come from? What good can become of their hatred for the USA? NONE! THIS IS THE CYBER WAR WE HAVE READ ABOUT!

Patrick R > Yeziam12

Shared secrets with the enemy? The same government you champion sends weapons to our enemies (Mexican Drug Cartels, Hadji-jihadists, etc.)

Spare me your propaganda.

Yeziam12 > Patrick R

THIS isn't a story about your random baseless fears, but nice try to distract...wanna play again?


Patrick R > Yeziam12

Nice try to defect the real dangers and issues. Arming jihadists is much more of a clear and present danger than exposing the fact (not the details) that our own government undermines their own efforts to keep us "secure"

Yeziam12 > Arthur Wyss

Give us one example - a US citizen/place/action/URL that shows someone has been impacted by what is reportedly a nefarious spying program.

Yeziam12 > Yeziam12


"There's not one incident I know of that there has been a person intentionally trying to look at anyone's phone calls or emails. Not one," Ruppersberger said.

"There's not one incident I know of that there has been a person intentionally trying to look at anyone's phone calls or emails. Not one," Ruppersberger said"

How many times does the USG have to answer the same allegations before the juvenile mindset realizes they can only use distraction to try and avoid the truth.


Arthur Wyss > Yeziam12

Can you name one person harmed by the Stasi spy operation in East Germany? Of course people were hurt, but we do not know exactly how many and how because of the secret nature of the secret police. We do know that Edward Snowden was hurt by NSA spying, but we cannot put our finger on all the specific cases of things that are done in secret.

Arthur Wyss > Yeziam12

Firstly, FISA only applies to foreign communication. FISA is an acronym for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Thanks to Snowden and others we now know that all Americans are being spied on under the guise of FISA. I can give you 330 million examples of Americans being harmed by spying by the NSA. The chief justice of the Supreme Court was spied on by the NSA, as were all Americans. Chief Justice Roberts was publically opposed to ObamaCare, but the NSA had some dirt on him and he was blackmailed into changing his vote to impose the Affordable Care Act on the American people. All Americans have already been dramatically effected by NSA spying on Americans and the evidence is becoming overwhelming that the case with the spying on the Supreme Court is just the tip of the iceberg. Freedom is rapidly disappearing due to NSA spying, and an Orwellian state of tyranny is sweeping the land which is absolutely destroying all liberty, freedom and honesty.

Noam Chomsky De-Americanizing the World

During the latest episode of the Washington farce that has astonished a bemused world, a Chinese commentator wrote that if the United States cannot be a responsible member of the world system, perhaps the world should become "de-Americanized" - and separate itself from the rogue state that is the reigning military power but is losing credibility in other domains.

Former FBI agent Mike German talks about the NSA The Daily Caller

Was your work for the FBI what made you decide that their practices weren't right?

Absolutely. I had been working for the FBI for 16 years and domestic terrorism for 12 years. What I understood was that the rules that are designed to protect privacy also help the government focus on people who are real threats. It works both ways. This idea that we trade our privacy for more security is just false. Spying on you won't help the government find a terrorist. It's a waste of resources, a waste of effort that also violates our rights.

[Nov 05, 2013] Collect It All: America's Surveillance State

A Screening of Al Jazeera's Fault Lines Documentary

Thursday November 14, 2013

4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.

New America Foundation

1899 L Street NW, Suite 400

Washington, DC 20036

On November 14, the New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute will host a special screening of Al Jazeera Fault Lines documentary, "Collect it All: America's Surveillance State," followed by a conversation with the producer, Laila Al-Arian.

The film examines how government surveillance programs impact communities in America, talking to people at the center of the story, including Glenn Greenwald, a community caught up in New York City's sweeping surveillance programs, and policy makers in Washington, DC.

After the screening, there will be a discussion on the history and impact of surveillance on targeted communities within the United States.

Featured Speakers:

Laila Al-Arian

Producer, Fault Lines, Al Jazeera English

Seeta Peña Gangadharan

Senior Research Fellow, Open Technology Institute, New America Foundation

To RSVP for the event, click on the red button or go to the event page:

For questions, contact Faith Smith at New America at (202) 596-3393 or

[Nov 05, 2013] WAPO New Docs Show NSA Infiltration of Google and Yahoo Accounts Worldwide

Nov 04, 2013 | Daily Kos

Documents released by Edward Snowden show how the NSA broke into the main communication links connecting Yahoo and Google data centers around the world, enabling it to collect pretty much everything you've ever done on the Internet. Assuming you're a "foreigner" (wink, wink!).

By tapping those links, the agency has positioned itself to collect at will from among hundreds of millions of user accounts, many of them belonging to Americans. The NSA does not keep everything it collects, but it keeps a lot.
In fact, your data ("data" includes both metadata and content, presumably everything you've ever written, every video and picture you've viewed, every search you've made, for starters) is already stored away, waiting to be scrutinized at any time by an enterprising young NSA fellow if they should take an interest in you, for whatever reason. As is the case with most of these Snowden revelations, the collection of private data is a process already well underway:
According to a top secret accounting dated Jan. 9, 2013, NSA's acquisitions directorate sends millions of records every day from Yahoo and Google internal networks to data warehouses at the agency's Fort Meade headquarters.
As USA Today observes, this newly revealed spying "appears to give government snoops access to not just contact lists and address books – last week's Snowden revelation – but all e-mail and business documents, including Google docs which is used by hundreds of thousands of companies."

The tool they are using to steal and collect your private data for future use is known as MUSCULAR. This tool enables them to dispense with the PRISM infiltration, which requires Court approval under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The infiltration is especially striking because the NSA, under a separate program known as PRISM, has front-door access to Google and Yahoo user accounts through a court-approved process.

The MUSCULAR project appears to be an unusually aggressive use of NSA tradecraft against flagship American companies. The agency is built for high-tech spying, with a wide range of digital tools, but it has not been known to use them routinely against U.S. companies.

MUSCULAR is purportedly only in use "overseas," which is of course an immense relief, since nothing we have seen thus far from the NSA would remotely suggest they'd use such a tool domestically.
Intercepting communications overseas has clear advantages for the NSA, with looser restrictions and less oversight. NSA documents about the effort refer directly to "full take," "bulk access" and "high volume" operations on Yahoo and Google networks. Such large-scale collection of Internet content would be illegal in the United States, but the operations take place overseas, where the NSA is allowed to presume that anyone using a foreign data link is a foreigner.
No one from the "Directorate" appears ready to discuss this yet. Coming just one day after the head of the Agency dismissed stories of sweeping up the phone records of millions of Europeans as "completely false," that's quite understandable.
White House officials and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the NSA, declined to confirm, deny or explain why the agency infiltrates Google and Yahoo networks overseas.
One of the more striking documents revealed today is what appears to be a little post-it tab (actually a slide from an internal NSA presentation, presumably held over coffee and donuts) where some bored NSA staffer drew a smiley-face to celebrate the NSA's infiltration of Google's cloud.
In hand-printed letters, the drawing notes that encryption is "added and removed here!" The artist adds a smiley face, a cheeky celebration of victory over Google security.
This Agency is completely out of control.


BREAKING: NSA spied on the Vatican. (33+ / 0-)

So we have control over the money flow, taps on everyone using the internet, taps on on world leaders, taps on all business and corps,

and now evidence of taps on Religious Leaders.

If they tapped the Vatican, they sure as hell tapped every other religious organization.

What the hell is going on here? This is global takeover kinda stuff, or at least the potential is there.

"So what if a guy threw a shoe at me!"


Love it or leave it

The spying that is.

None are so hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are free. The truth has been kept from the depth of their minds by masters who rule them with lies. -Johann von Goethe


My muscles had a spontaneous reaction

to wanting to punch the MUSCULAR Program's initiators, supporters, developers and founding fathers in the face.

This comes from a foreigner in the US and a foreigner in Germany and an altogether stupid idiot like me.

Not that I didn't expect that to be the case anyhow. So, how are foreign correspondence news and images searches via google collected ... we are all darn foreigners who report on American affairs to them foreigners in Europe.

F'n unacceptable.


So the NSA is good spending Billions/year

so that they can Cyberstalk, downloading porn, spying on our allies but can't stop two morons with "Grannie's" pressure cooker when one of the morons is already in "The system"......

Got it

James Hepburn

Too busy spying on progressives and protesters

When the same contractors the NSA uses to spy on us are also working for Bank of America, Hunton & Williams, and the Chamber of Commerce to attack labor unions, independent, progressive journalists, and any "left-leaning critics" of Wall Street, it's perfectly clear what the real agenda is here.

Two years ago, a batch of stolen e-mails revealed a plot by a set of three defense contractors (Palantir Technologies, Berico Technologies and HBGary Federal) to target activists, reporters, labor unions and political organizations. The plans- one concocted in concert with lawyers for the US Chamber of Commerce to sabotage left-leaning critics, like the Center for American Progress and the SEIU, and a separate proposal to "combat" WikiLeaks and its supporters, including Glenn Greenwald, on behalf of Bank of America - fell apart after reports of their existence were published online.

But the episode serves as a reminder that the expanding spy industry could use its government-backed cybertools to harm ordinary Americans and political dissident groups.


And not intelligent.

I could almost believe in the benevolent oversight of a non-human AI that was designed from the ground up to "protect and defend". But the NSA's system, even once they figure out all the problems associated with sifting that much data, isn't an AI or anything like it. It's just a dumb tool and will likely stay that way for a long time. The real intelligence in action belongs to the NSA staffers and contractors who are running that tool and making all the decisions, every one of them human to the core.

And that's what's really scary.

Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory, tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat. Sun Tzu The Art of War


Why the HELL isn't Congress

Bitching about that excessive abuse of funds? M

Hell no, they have to gut SNAP, WIC, and other programs that he the poor.
God, has there been a less useless Congress then the current crop?
Both sides.

How many BA contractors are getting insider trading info when they listen to corporstions?

Would Congress please do their fucking jobs?

Holder, SEC?

Passing a law that the Constitution doesn't allow does not negate the Constitution, it negates the law that was passed. Secret courts can't make up secret laws. SORRY FOR THE TYPOS :)


You think they're not doing their jobs?

They're doing exactly what they were paid to do!

Patriotism is another word for nationalism. Nationalism is another word for bigotry.


Paid by whom?

When we pay their salary, they are supposed to work for us.
I get that most ofbthem are owned by the corporations.
But I want them to do the job we elected them to do.

Passing a law that the Constitution doesn't allow does not negate the Constitution, it negates the law that was passed. Secret courts can't make up secret laws. SORRY FOR THE TYPOS :)


"We"? Who's "we"?

Oh, the poor. Ha ha, you think you're people, how cute.

Patriotism is another word for nationalism. Nationalism is another word for bigotry.


"Safe from Terrorism"

So: The NSA has built for itself the ability to comprehensively monitor pretty much the entire unencrypted Internet, and probably a fair amount of the encrypted traffic as well.

Meanwhile, malware authors and spammers run free because it's "too difficult" for law enforcement to go after them. Compromised Windows system remain so because it's "too difficult" to identify the compromised machines and notify their owners to clean them out.

The economic meltdown of 2008, and the economic meltdown of yet-to-come, can't be investigated much less prosecuted because it's "too difficult" to obtain the necessary evidence to proceed, even though there was almost certainly collusion across international boundaries. Over phone lines. Which are all tapped.

But not to worry because TERERIZM!!


Fix: echo off

Um .... Inside the NSA's Ultra-Secret China Hacking Group

All of the Senate and White House duping and fear mongering about China the past couple of years hasn't worked out so great.

There's a really good article in the current issue of Foreign Affairs you should read, The End of Hypocrisy, By Henry Farrell and Martha Finnemore (paywall).

Daniel W. Drezner provides a poor man's version here with a response from Farrell here.


Another Way The NSA Enables Spammers

If the e-mail infrastructure had strong encryption built into it (as should have been done long ago, but was prevented by NSA-driven obstructionism), the extra computational load of sending millions of e-mails would be prohibitive for the typical chicken-boner spamhaus. (Legitimate e-mail lists wouldn't be much affected; even large ones are typically a couple orders of magnitude smaller than a spam run.)

On the Internet, nobody knows if you're a dog... but everybody knows if you're a jackass.


Not the Entire Story

The NSA's influence was certainly part of the equation, but relatively minor at the time in light of other factors.

One was that there was a strong civil libertarian streak in the people who designed the net and its protocols. Making the email infrastructure spam-proof would require an authorization infrastructure ("You have permission"), which would require an authentication infrastructure ("And just who are you, anyway?"). There was widespread sentiment that the authentication component -- traceably proving to an authority who you were -- would undermine anonymity, which was seen as valuable.

Another problem is that, at the time, RSA held a patent on public key cryptography, and were charging usurious amounts for licenses. Pretty Good Privacy (PGP), a public key cryptography package for end users, had been independently developed and was available, but nobody wanted to incorporate it commercially because they didn't want to risk a ruinous patent lawsuit from RSA. The only widespread alternative at the time was 56-bit DES, a symmetric cipher which became trivially crackable in the late 1990's.

As for the increased computational load that strong crypto would require, modern spamming doesn't use its own resources, as rogue domains are blacklisted fairly quickly. Rather, they steal resources by distributing the spam through millions of compromised Windows systems.


I want some results from my loss of civil rights!


Damn you, NSA. If you're going to go all 1984 on us, at least have the competence to ferret out the spammers and catch the occasional bomb thrower.

I swear to our Simulated Universe Overlords, this is incompetence, pure and simple. Fuckers.

Slightly Wobbly

It looks like a roomful of lawyers

During the SCO-IBM trial someone referred to the IBM legal team as the Nazgul. Pretty apt: these are not people you want coming after you.


I don't know where the NSA stops and Google

begins or vice versa.

I doubt they're shocked. They knew about this connection before we did. I think they're all playing ignorant and outraged for the cameras.

Information is the currency of democracy. ~Thomas Jefferson


Google is the NSA dressed up as Grandma from the

looks of things here.

Grandma, what big ears you have! The better to record you, my dear.

Oh, Grandma, what big eyes you have! The better to film you with my dear!

Information is the currency of democracy. ~Thomas Jefferson


The Google business...

of "Cloud computing" is one of the major drivers of their revenue going forward.

This is a big f***ing deal to them, and it pretty much throws the business out the window if security is meaningless because of unwarranted (and I mean that literally) eavesdropping.

It used to be that emails were like postcards, it now seems that all cloud-based computing will have to be imagined in the same way: everything stored in a "cloud" is subject to interception and interpretation by the "postmaster" known as the NSA (and others).

My avatar moves.


Was. I can tell you they are not real happy

Could be this:

How Much Will PRISM Cost the U.S. Cloud Computing Industry? (

And this:



They are late to the part on that

Microsoft and SGI have been building containerized data centers for years. SGI even has solar powered ones.

And it's not really certain what, exactly that thingy is, some people think it will be a Google Glass store. That would be pretty funny, great publicity stunt.

Thomas Twinnings

I don't quite understand

If the NSA has access to internet traffic though the "front door", with PRISM, why do they need a "back door" with MUSCULAR? What do they get with one that they do not get with the other?

An illusion can never be destroyed directly... SK.




It's an industry standard

Deep Harm

And, surely, that was the intent

of releasing documents a few at a time. Give officials an opportunity to explain. When they lie, provide the damning evidence. Wait for officials to respond to that, and follow up with more damning evidence.

Even if the government does nothing to cut back surveillance, Snowden's disclosures have altered the way Americans view their government.


There's always been people who argue that

… states / governments / countries should not be judged by the same moral standards as apply to individuals.

Basically, the idea seems to boil down to a notion that countries who aren't willing to act like murderous paranoid psychopaths won't survive, or something.

The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war. ♥ ♥ ♥ Forget Neo - The One is Minori Urakawa

Deep Harm

The agency issued a nondenial denial

White House officials and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the NSA, declined to confirm, deny or explain why the agency infiltrates Google and Yahoo networks overseas, the Post reported.

That's not a non-denial denial


That's a 'no comment'. A non-denial-denial is a denial of something that was not the question:

The DNI denied that the NSA has agents reading American's google searches in real time.

NSA collects millions of e-mail address books globally - The Washington Post

During a single day last year, the NSA's Special Source Operations branch collected 444,743 e-mail address books from Yahoo, 105,068 from Hotmail, 82,857 from Facebook, 33,697 from Gmail and 22,881 from unspecified other providers, according to an internal NSA PowerPoint presentation. Those figures, described as a typical daily intake in the document, correspond to a rate of more than 250 million a year.

Each day, the presentation said, the NSA collects contacts from an estimated 500,000 buddy lists on live-chat services as well as from the inbox displays of Web-based e-mail accounts.

The collection depends on secret arrangements with foreign telecommunications companies or allied intelligence services in control of facilities that direct traffic along the Internet's main data routes.

[Nov 02, 2013] New Snowden revelation NSA collects millions of email and chat address books Evan Dashevsky

Oct 15, 2013 | PCWorld

...The NSA collects hundreds of millions of address books and contact lists from emails and instant messaging accounts, the Washington Post reported late Monday, drawing once again from documents leaked by Edward Snowden.

According to the report, the NSA actively collects and stores "buddy lists" and online address books from "most major webmail" systems and has been since at least January 2012. The Agency uses these virtual reams of "metadata-rich" info to create searchable recreations of an individual's life based on their online connections.

The newly unveiled program expands on the NSA's reach even beyond the already expansive PRISM and Xkeyscore programs, which gave the government the ability to access nearly all digital communications.

The Post's report is largely drawn from another matter-of-fact NSA PowerPoint presentation (linked here), that describes how the NSA's Special Source Operations (SSO) was able to collect nearly 450,000 address books per day (or roughly 250 million per year).

...According to the PowerPoint, the program includes data culled from numerous services including Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail, and Facebook.

...According to the NSA's analysis of a single day's collection, Yahoo was the most collected source, followed by Hotmail, Gmail, and Facebook

[Oct 30, 2013] Snowden leak NSA secretly accessed Yahoo, Google data centers to collect information

There are some additional dangers in over-reliance of cloud computing, especially using major players... ;-)

Those documents, supplied by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and obtained by the Washington Post, suggest that the US intelligence agency and its British counterpart have compromised data passed through the computers of Google and Yahoo, the two biggest companies in the world with regards to overall Internet traffic, and in turn allowed those country's governments and likely their allies access to hundreds of millions of user accounts from individuals around the world.

"From undisclosed interception points, the NSA and GCHQ are copying entire data flows across fiber-optic cables that carry information between the data centers of the Silicon Valley giants," the Post's Barton Gellman and Ashkan Soltani reported on Wednesday.

The document providing evidence of such was among the trove of files supplied by Mr. Snowden and is dated January 9, 2013, making it among the most recent top-secret files attributed to the 30-year-old whistleblower.

Earlier this year, separate documentation supplied by Mr. Snowden disclosed evidence of PRISM, an NSA-operated program that the intelligence company conducted to target the users of Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Facebook, PalTalk, YouTube, Skype, AOL and Apple services. When that program was disclosed by the Guardian newspaper in June, reporters there said it allowed the NSA to "collect material including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats" while having direct access to the companies' servers, at times with the "assistance of communication providers in the US."

According to the latest leak, the NSA and Britain's Government Communications Headquarters are conducting similar operations targeting the users of at least two of these companies, although this time under utmost secrecy.

"The infiltration is especially striking because the NSA, under a separate program known as PRISM, has front-door access to Google and Yahoo user accounts through a court-approved process," the Post noted.

[Oct 28, 2013] Taking Big Brother to Task by Kelley B. Vlahos

Taking Big Brother to Task

Has the NSA protest hit critical mass?

There was a definite "BS" and "AS" order to things at the major Stop Watching Us rally against government surveillance in Washington, DC, on Saturday. That's Before Snowden and After Snowden, and though it doesn't matter really which is which, it helps when charting the evolution of a protest movement, especially one that seems to be on a speed-of-light trajectory.


Before Snowden activists are those who came up from the trenches and felt virtually ignored – until now – when they tried to raise alarms over the level of spying and snooping and misuse of the Patriot Act since it was first passed in 2001. Then there are the After Snowden types, who told that Snowden's leaks, which have provided the most elaborate detail about the government's warrantless data collection and online surveillance to date, compelled them into action for the first time, enough pack a bag and head to Washington for the weekend to protest.

What's important is that both sides came together Saturday in a fusion of purpose. But do they represent a critical mass, or just the beginning of something that may not last beyond tomorrow's news?

Author and columnist Jim Bovard, who was on hand, with camera, for the day's activities, reminded us that the last eight years are pockmarked with lost opportunities for outrage – beginning with the 2005 New York Times expose of the Bush Administration's warrantless wiretapping program. That story won a Pulitzer, but the paper held off publishing it until just after the 2004 presidential election, which allowed President Bush to avoid any painful political retribution at the polls.

Sommer Gentry from Baltimore

Sommer Gentry from Baltimore

The expose, as powerful it was toward building a case against the misuse of government police powers post-9/11, only succeeded in forcing congress to re-jigger the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to make it legal to spy on Americans, and to make the already suspicious more suspicious. But mainstream America eventually moved on.

"I hope that same nonsense doesn't repeat itself this time," Bovard said, shaking his head.

But against the blazing backdrop of the sunny October sky, the blue and black signs offering many thanks to Edward Snowden and demanding an end to massive data mining and online surveillance, there seemed to be no stopping this movement from claiming that critical mass, at least on Saturday.

"I'm happy to see people raising hell," said Bovard. "These are people who will blog about this, post to Facebook and Twitter and help build a fire under this."

Corey Sturmer, who had traveled with girlfriend Charlee Eades from North Carolina to protest, agreed.

Charlee Eades and boyfriend Corey Sturmer traveled from North Carolina for Saturday's protest

Charlee Eades and boyfriend Corey Sturmer traveled from North Carolina for Saturday's protest

"When Snowden came out with this, that's when I knew we had finally captured the collective consciousness. The collective mindset shifted. People are now generally more aware of it (spying)," he said "(Snowden) was a big event."

But while people are "aware" of Big Brother, are they any more willing to try and unplug him?

Stop Watching Us is the umbrella organization that brought together a coalition of some 100 privacy advocates and political activists as far flung in ideological positioning as the ACLU and the Libertarian Party and Daily Kos and Freedom Works, to pull off Saturday's rally. A day before, they sent a squadron of representatives to Capitol Hill to talk directly to their representatives about government overreach and how Snowden's leaks, translated in a continuing series of news articles by The Guardian and The Washington Post, have galvanized their constituencies – "the average citizen" - like no other time before.

"Advocates and the public have been ignored for too long," and we "have had to accept that privacy is dead," announced Khaliah Barnes, administrative law counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), which has been fighting the NSA's collection of so-called "meta data" in court. Barnes told the crowd that EPIC's court petitions are finally getting a reaction from the agency, which EPIC interprets as fear. This is progress, considering the silence that pervaded the early days of the Patriot Act, where the center's protests were often met with silence, and then scorn.

"First they ignore you, then they make fun of you, then they fight you…then, you win," Barnes repeated several times for effect.

"By finally having our voices heard we are winning," she said.

Organizers said Saturday that the rally attracted "more than two thousand" attendees. While in actuality, it looked more like the lower end of that generous estimate, the make-up of the crowd proved to be more telling than its numbers.


First, there was no sense of major hangover from the antiwar protests of the preceding decade, or even the more recent Occupy Wall Street encampments. This meant that instead of a rainbow of causes using the Stop Watching Us event to raise their disparate flags, mostly everyone there stayed on-topic, under one flag. They included mostly twenty- and thirty-somethings (with a healthy sprinkling of us older folks) looking like they merely stepped out of their day jobs as parents, students and professionals to proclaim that yes, they had reached their limits, and they weren't going to take it anymore.

"Suddenly we, the American people, are the enemy. When did I become the enemy? I don't mean to shout at you but I'm just getting all fired up," exclaimed Sommer Gentry, who traveled by train from Baltimore to march. She carried a sign that said, "Get a Warrant," and told that she first got interested in how the government was misusing its powers after "the TSA (Transportation Security Agency) touched me in a way I consider sexual assault" at an airport security checkpoint. "I really believe these issues are all related."

Aside from a few Halloween-y exceptions, there were no costumes, tie-dyes, feathers or face paint. Just a lot of pictures of Edward Snowden (who lent this statement via Moscow to the proceedings), and a general consensus that Washington had gone too far.

Dakotah Henderson, left, with dad Sam, celebrated his 18th birthday at the rally

Dakotah Henderson, left, with dad Sam, celebrated his 18th birthday at the rally

Oh yeah, and a lot more mainstream reporters and cameras than are typically seen at these events. Which was good when speakers like Rep. Justin Amash, a conservative Republican in the U.S House of Representatives, took the stage in support of the effort.

Eades, who was holding a sign with Sturmer that read, "Truth is Treason in the Empire of Lies," said, "writing my senator will do nothing for me, that is why I drove all the way here from Durham, North Carolina to be here."

She added: "Before the Snowden leaks, we knew, and were suspicious of, these programs for a long time. Edward Snowden put it out in a global and impactful way. It's having an impact now."


Just take Dakotah Henderson, who traveled from Roanoke, Virginia with dad Sam for the rally. It was his 18th birthday Saturday. He said the Snowden revelations had sparked his newfound activism. Government surveillance, he now believes, has become a threat to American democracy.

"I expected Obama to do what he said he would do as a senator (in 2008) and end the illegal warrantless wiretapping. I believe it's important to do what you say," he said.

News reports based on the leaks – the most recent, that the NSA had been monitoring the private calls of some 35 foreign leaders, including Washington's closest allies – have forced the government to respond, attempting to allay the fears of other governments, citizens, even businesses that feel manipulated by government authorities. The issue has spawned real debates about the limits of power, over-classification, and whether or not our rights are being subverted by national security interests. The careers of journalist-activists Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, who broke the first stories for The Guardian, have hardly faltered, in fact, they have flourished as a result of their work, catapulting both into the mainstream and inspiring a whole new front for their investigative endeavors.

Whether or not this signals a sea change in popular outrage – a critical mass – remains to be seen. But if the spirit and vigor behind Saturday's protest is any indication, they are at least halfway there.

NSA must prove value of phone program Our view

Since fugitive leaker Edward Snowden burst on the scene in June, Americans have learned a lot about all the ways in which their government is watching them. Among the most disturbing:

The problem is, they're not really talking about hay or dots. They're talking about collecting massive amounts of data on just about everyone in the United States so the government will have it around in case it's needed.

Until Snowden's revelations made headlines, most lawmakers knew little about these collections. Now Congress is considering whether to curtail or kill the phone records program - the most expansive of the initiatives that have been exposed and a test of where to draw the line between what the government wants and what it actually needs.

In that debate, the burden should be on the NSA to prove that the program's benefits outweigh its costs, which Alexander has struggled to do.

Initially in June, he testified that the phone database, along with a less intrusive e-mail program targeting foreign suspects, had helped disrupt "potential terrorist events over 50 times since 9/11."

By July, under skeptical questioning by Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Alexander's deputy said the phone data "made a contribution" in just 12 cases. And at a symposium in Aspen, when asked how often phone data were the "tip-off" to a plot, Alexander replied: "I don't have the numbers off the top of my head to break it out like that."

Now supporters of the program have fallen back on what-ifs about 9/11. If intelligence agencies had phone metadata before 9/11, they argue, it would have revealed one of the terrorists who was in the U.S. well before the attack. Talk about rewriting history. The tragic flaw before 9/11 was not lack of data but failure to share what agencies already knew.

Even if today's officials are well-intentioned, which they seem to be, the potential that such a resource will be abused is significant, particularly if access to it is one day expanded to the many agencies that would find such tracking useful. The abuses by the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover are instructive, as are the political manipulations of Richard Nixon.

A number of lawmakers - Democrats and Republicans, left and right - have criticized this program as too intrusive. Among them are Leahy and conservative Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., a key architect of the 2001 law that carved out broad new powers to prevent terrorism. They would end the program. Others would add new protections, such as greater judicial oversight.

Choosing between privacy rights and security from terrorism is difficult. But before Americans are forced to make that choice, the government ought to demonstrate that this intrusive program has extraordinary value. So far, the administration hasn't even come close.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Continue call-records program

Sen. Dianne Feinstein Continue NSA call-records program by Dianne Feinstein

October 20, 2013

The call-records program is not surveillance.

This program has played a role in stopping roughly a dozen terror plots.

The Senate Intelligence Committee will soon consider legislation to add public reporting requirements and more court review.

The NSA call-records program is legal and subject to extensive congressional and judicial oversight. Above all, the program has been effective in helping to prevent terrorist plots against the U.S. and our allies. Congress should adopt reforms to improve transparency and privacy protections, but I believe the program should continue.

The call-records program is not surveillance. It does not collect the content of any communication, nor do the records include names or locations. The NSA only collects the type of information found on a telephone bill: phone numbers of calls placed and received, the time of the calls and duration. The Supreme Court has held this "metadata" is not protected under the Fourth Amendment.

This program helps "connect the dots" - the main failure of our intelligence before 9/11. Former FBI director Robert Mueller and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified that if this program existed before 9/11, it likely would have identified the presence inside the U.S. of hijacker Khalid al-Mihdhar.

The NSA uses these records to identify connections between known and suspected terrorists (as well as terror conspirators and supporters). The overwhelming majority of records are never reviewed before being destroyed, but it is necessary for the NSA to obtain "the haystack" of records in order to find the terrorist "needle."

Only a strictly limited number of NSA analysts (among the thousands of professionals at the agency) may search the phone records database and only after articulating a specific reason that must be approved by a senior official. Those decisions are reviewed regularly by the Justice Department, Congress and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court, which imposes strict privacy protections.

To be effective, the NSA must be able to conduct these queries quickly, without regard to which phone carrier a terrorist or conspirator uses. And the records must be available for a few years - longer than phone companies need them for billing purposes.

Since its inception, this program has played a role in stopping roughly a dozen terror plots and identifying terrorism supporters in the U.S. Given the threats we face from al-Qaeda and others, we need all legal tools at our disposal.

The Senate Intelligence Committee will soon consider legislation to add public reporting requirements and more court review, and to codify existing procedures into law. I hope this will restore public confidence to a program that continues to protect the homeland from terrorism.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., is chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

[Oct 15, 2013] Washington Post NSA collects address books to map human relationships PCWorld

The U.S. National Security Agency is collecting online address books from Yahoo, Hotmail, Facebook, Gmail and other providers in order to map human relationships, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden supplied the newspaper with documents showing how the NSA gathers email contact lists and "buddy lists" from chat programs. The address book data is used to map the connection and latent connections between individuals.

On a typical day, the NSA collects about 500,000 buddy lists and inboxes (which seems to refer to address books), according to the documents. But the number is also sometimes higher. On one representative day mentioned in the documents, the NSA gathered 444,743 Yahoo address books, 105,068 Hotmail contact lists and 82,857 address books from Facebook, 33,697 from Gmail and 22,881 from other providers for a total of 689,246.

While address books usually contain email addresses and contact details, some of them can also contain physical address information, phone numbers and full names. The NSA collects buddy lists because they frequently contain data such as parts of messages, according to the document.

The information is collected in bulk at key Internet access points controlled by foreign telecommunications companies and allied intelligence services and the documents show that at least 18 collection points are used.

All of the data collection takes place outside of U.S. territory, but contact lists of U.S. citizens also cross the international collection points because their email could be sent via non-U.S. points. Email originating in the U.S. can also cross NSA collection points when citizens are abroad or traveling.

Two senior U.S. intelligence officials granted anonymity to speak to the Post declined to say how many address books of U.S. citizens have been collected by the NSA, but did not dispute that the number is likely to be in the millions or tens of millions, the paper reported.

The NSA collects the data abroad because neither Congress or the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has authorized the collection. Such data collection would be illegal if carried out from the U.S., according to the newspaper's sources.

Encryption can protect against the siphoning of contact lists, but is not used by all providers. Yahoo, which seems to be the biggest NSA target, does not encrypt its webmail service by default, but it said it would turn on encryption by default in January following the revelations, according to the Post. But even when encryption is used in webmail, third-party clients may transmit information unencrypted, making the data vulnerable to snooping, it added.

The new revelations follow a series of disclosures from documents provided to news media by Snowden that have revealed, among other things, the NSA's efforts to defeat online encryption, its broad access to Verizon customer data and a program in which it is collecting data on users of Internet services provided by Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Yahoo and others.

News media that Snowden has provided documents to have said that there are more revelations to come.

[Oct 15, 2013] Does the NSA know who 'friended' you on social media

The US government is using foreign technology companies and intelligence agencies to collect hundreds of millions of address books and friend lists around the world, including those of millions of Americans, in an end run around US privacy laws, according to a Washington Post report.

The Post article, published Monday and based on documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, says the NSA uses a collection program to intercept contact lists from email and instant messaging services – including major companies like Yahoo, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft – as they are transmitted through international servers. The aggregated lists, which the Post calls "a sizable fraction of the world's e-mail and instant messaging accounts," is then analyzed by the NSA to map relationships and search for connections with specific foreign intelligence targets.

The program relies on intercepting the data as it is transmitted across borders, taking advantage of the fact that many major service providers operate servers abroad in order to balance their workload. And rather than accessing corporate servers directly, the program instead grabs data as it is synced between the servers and clients – a procedure that happens whenever users log in or compose a message. That data is nominally a list of names of contacts, but can also include real world information such as street addresses, phone numbers, family and business information, and the first few lines of messages.

RECOMMENDED: How well do you know the world of spying? Take our CIA and NSA quiz.

Because of the way it culls data, the program in theory does not run afoul of restrictions set by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, which governs such data collection in the US and on American targets. Instead, the program is subject only to executive branch oversight and presidential authority.

However, the Post notes that the program is not "technically able to restrict its intake to contact lists belonging to specified foreign intelligence targets," according to an anonymous US official.

When information passes through "the overseas collection apparatus," the official added, "the assumption is you're not a U.S. person."

In practice, data from Americans is collected in large volumes - in part because they live and work overseas, but also because data crosses international boundaries even when its American owners stay at home. Large technology companies, including Google and Facebook, maintain data centers around the world to balance loads on their servers and work around outages.

A senior U.S. intelligence official said the privacy of Americans is protected, despite mass collection, because "we have checks and balances built into our tools."

NSA analysts, he said, may not search within the contacts database or distribute information from it unless they can "make the case that something in there is a valid foreign intelligence target in and of itself."

British technology news site The Register reports that in a speech Mr. Snowden gave last week, but was only published Monday by Democracy Now, he criticizes the volume of data that the US is collecting, and appears to be citing, at least in part, the program revealed by the Post report.

"These [surveillance] programs don't make us more safe. They hurt our economy. They hurt our country. They limit our ability to speak and think and to live and be creative, to have relationships, to associate freely," said Snowden, who has been accused of aiding terrorists and America's enemies....

Snowden said: "There's a far cry between legal programs, legitimate spying, legitimate law enforcement, where it's targeted, it's based on reasonable suspicion and individualized suspicion and warranted action, and sort of dragnet mass surveillance that puts entire populations under sort of an eye that sees everything, even when it's not needed."

And Alex Wilhelm asks in a story for IT news and commentary site TechCrunch, "if the NSA is willing to accept data from foreign intelligence agencies that it is not able to collect [under FISA restrictions], why not in other cases as well?"

If the NSA won't respect the constraints that are put in place on its actions for a reason, and will instead shirk its responsibilities and find a way to get all the data it could ever desire, then we have even less reason to trust its constant petitions that it follows the law, and is the only thing keeping the United States safe from conflagration.

The Post includes comments from Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Yahoo, all of which deny knowledge of and voluntary participation in the US program. The Post notes that according to the documents provided by Snowden, Yahoo sees a disproportionate share of the data the US collects, perhaps due to the fact that it has yet to encrypt all its users' communications. (In contrast, Google was the first to encrypt all its user messages, starting in 2010.) A Yahoo spokesperson told the Post that the company would begin encrypting all email communications in January.

FreeBSD 9.2, FreeBSD 10.0 Alpha 4 Released

Free and, especially, OpenBSD is more out of mainstream and as such are more secure options for personal computing.

Posted by Soulskill on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @09:45PM
from the onward-and-upward dept.

An anonymous reader writes "The FreeBSD Release Engineering Team has announced the release of FreeBSD 9.2. FreeBSD 9.2-RELEASE has ZFS TRIM SSD support, ZFS LZ4 compression support, DTrace hooks and VirtIO drivers as part of the default kernel configuration, unmapped I/O support, and numerous other minor features. FreeBSD also announced FreeBSD 10.0 Alpha 4 on the same day, which is the next major feature release of the open-source BSD operating system."

[Oct 01, 2013] White House Defends NSA 'Social Mapping' of Americans

Every new revelation of NSA surveillance is a new affront to basic privacy, and goes far further than anyone had dared to imagine. Every time, the White House is there to defend it.

So when the New York Times revealed over the weekend that the NSA has for the past 3 years been using its wholesale data collection from American citizens to construct elaborate maps of "social connections," it was only a matter of time before the White House shrugged it off as perfectly legal and reasonable.

The program is about as unreasonable as it gets, with the agency using metadata, GPS locations and voter records from ordinary Americans to figure out who is friends with who, and connecting people indirectly to others of "intelligence interest."

It's sort of a George Orwell meets six degrees of Kevin Bacon program, and is exactly the sort of obscene, grand scale privacy violation that the administration had repeatedly assured Americans the NSA would never think of doing.

But now that the cat is out of the bag, the story has changed, and White House spokesman Jay Carney, while refusing to discuss the specifics of the program, insisted that finding out who you might currently know, or conceivably meet from a friend of a friend, is a vital national security interest.

While the White House has at times expressed support for the "dialogue" ongoing with respect to the NSA's abuse of privacy, they likewise seem outraged by every new leak, saying that informing the public of just how violated they are is itself a major crime.

[Oct 01, 2013] N.S.A. Gathers Data on Social Connections of U.S. Citizens by JAMES RISEN and LAURA POITRAS

September 28, 2013 |

Since 2010, the National Security Agency has been exploiting its huge collections of data to create sophisticated graphs of some Americans' social connections that can identify their associates, their locations at certain times, their traveling companions and other personal information, according to newly disclosed documents and interviews with officials.

The spy agency began allowing the analysis of phone call and e-mail logs in November 2010 to examine Americans' networks of associations for foreign intelligence purposes after N.S.A. officials lifted restrictions on the practice, according to documents provided by Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor.

The policy shift was intended to help the agency "discover and track" connections between intelligence targets overseas and people in the United States, according to an N.S.A. memorandum from January 2011. The agency was authorized to conduct "large-scale graph analysis on very large sets of communications metadata without having to check foreignness" of every e-mail address, phone number or other identifier, the document said. Because of concerns about infringing on the privacy of American citizens, the computer analysis of such data had previously been permitted only for foreigners.

The agency can augment the communications data with material from public, commercial and other sources, including bank codes, insurance information, Facebook profiles, passenger manifests, voter registration rolls and GPS location information, as well as property records and unspecified tax data, according to the documents. They do not indicate any restrictions on the use of such "enrichment" data, and several former senior Obama administration officials said the agency drew on it for both Americans and foreigners.

N.S.A. officials declined to say how many Americans have been caught up in the effort, including people involved in no wrongdoing. The documents do not describe what has resulted from the scrutiny, which links phone numbers and e-mails in a "contact chain" tied directly or indirectly to a person or organization overseas that is of foreign intelligence interest.

The new disclosures add to the growing body of knowledge in recent months about the N.S.A.'s access to and use of private information concerning Americans, prompting lawmakers in Washington to call for reining in the agency and President Obama to order an examination of its surveillance policies. Almost everything about the agency's operations is hidden, and the decision to revise the limits concerning Americans was made in secret, without review by the nation's intelligence court or any public debate. As far back as 2006, a Justice Department memo warned of the potential for the "misuse" of such information without adequate safeguards.

An agency spokeswoman, asked about the analyses of Americans' data, said, "All data queries must include a foreign intelligence justification, period."

"All of N.S.A.'s work has a foreign intelligence purpose," the spokeswoman added. "Our activities are centered on counterterrorism, counterproliferation and cybersecurity."

The legal underpinning of the policy change, she said, was a 1979 Supreme Court ruling that Americans could have no expectation of privacy about what numbers they had called. Based on that ruling, the Justice Department and the Pentagon decided that it was permissible to create contact chains using Americans' "metadata," which includes the timing, location and other details of calls and e-mails, but not their content. The agency is not required to seek warrants for the analyses from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

N.S.A. officials declined to identify which phone and e-mail databases are used to create the social network diagrams, and the documents provided by Mr. Snowden do not specify them. The agency did say that the large database of Americans' domestic phone call records, which was revealed by Mr. Snowden in June and caused bipartisan alarm in Washington, was excluded. (N.S.A. officials have previously acknowledged that the agency has done limited analysis in that database, collected under provisions of the Patriot Act, exclusively for people who might be linked to terrorism suspects.)

But the agency has multiple collection programs and databases, the former officials said, adding that the social networking analyses relied on both domestic and international metadata. They spoke only on the condition of anonymity because the information was classified.


  1. NYT Pick

    The NSA may be collecting everything happening on Earth, but they're certainly not preventing terrorism. For example, the Times Square bomber was discovered by a nearby street vendors. The shoe bomber was discovered and stopped by passengers on the plane -- despite the fact that his father pre-warned our 'intelligence' community that his son was a terrorist threat.

    American intelligence is clearly an oxymoron. Collecting everything does nothing more than create a larger haystack for the NSA morons to comb through. This is not rocket science, eh?

    Stop the NSA. What they're doing is not only a waste of time and money. It's destroying the U.S. constitution.

  2. NYT Pick

    Basically - we are entitled to know everything about you and you are not entitled to know anything about us. For security reasons we will not tell you whether or not this is working, nor are you entitled to know how many billions of your tax dollars we are spending on this.

    "Just trust us..."

  1. NYT Pick

    Why anyone ever thought any of what they did online was private has always been a mystery to me. But, then again, I am a dinosaur, veteran of earlier versions of the same sort of activity.

    Unfortunately, what people, especially young ones, don't seem to get is that as odious and unconstitutional as government spying on Americans is, there is at least some accountability there. The reality is that individuals (whether you want to call them whistle blowers, hackers, traitors, or patriots) in the government have access to and can release information whenever they want. (Snowden is an excellent example.)

    Worse, corporations have no real accountability for their actions regarding the amassing and release of data, and if you think Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg can be voted out of office, let alone go to jail, you have been doing way too much drugs. (Here one might consider the banks as a somewhat parallel example.)

    I expect it will take a generation or two coming of age with this reality before people start changing their online behavior. Once the technology is there, laws are only effective at the margins.

    A comic strip many years ago (it may have been Pogo) had two kids talking on tin can phones. A third has his off to the side, connected to their line. One of the two says to the other, "Who's he?" To which the other replies, "Oh, he works for the government."

    Tin can phones? Yes, I am dating myself.

  1. NYT Pick

    There is government theater for public consumption (CSPAN) and there is control by those who pull the levers behind the scenes.

    Agencies like the NSA are beyond review and control by elected officials. They can simply lie to Congress as is the current practice.

    The only way to constrain the activities of such agencies is to reduce or withdraw funding. They know this and have proven strategies in place to head off moves in that direction.

    Times have changed. Sadly, it seems the ideals of the founding fathers, embodied in the Constitution and in particular the Bill of Rights, are no match for the ambitions of people who manage to gain control of a superpower with 330 million citizens.

  1. NYT Pick

    This latest revelation is both incredibly vindicating and disturbing. We have refused to use Facebook for years, we knew the privacy implications of social networking were huge even before the NSA spying was exposed. The social pressures to have a Facebook account are huge. We've experienced pressure to have FB accounts by employers, friends and family members. We've had to specifically ask friends NOT to post photos of events at our home (or of us) on their Facebook pages when they visit. We've also seen a loss of connection with family members who now only communicate exclusively on Facebook and don't want to be bothered with communicating with anyone else outside that platform. We've also seen marriages of friends end due to affairs conducted on Facebook and petty family squabbles made worse because of the drama there. Now everyone is up in arms about the spying on social networks. We've been warning everyone about this for years and have been viewed by a lot of our friends and family as paranoid crackpots.

  1. NYT Pick

    Perhaps the most telling exchange of Thursday's Senate Intelligence Committee hearing was when Sen. Udall asked Gen. Alexander, "Is it the goal of the N.S.A. to collect the phone records of all Americans?"

    And the general responded:

    "Yes, I believe it is in the nation's best interest to put all the phone records into a lockbox that we could search when the nation needs to do it. Yes."

    Think about that for a moment.

    And who would have the key to the "lockbox"? None other than Gen. Alexander himself. The translation of his operative phrase "when the nation needs to do it" sounds suspiciously like "when I need to do it." As in "l'etat, c'est moi."

    Heading the N.S.A. is the closest thing this nation has to absolute power -- power to abuse our constitutional rights. With no transparency. And virtually no accountability, other than what so far has been laughable congressional "oversight."

    Gen. Alexander has had that power for more than eight years. Too long. And we see the results. It's high time for the president to nominate someone else, with a maximum six-year term, and for We the People to start recapturing our civil liberties from a surveillance state that has gotten out of control.

    We've somehow allowed "The End Justifies the Means" to become our national motto, but it's beneath us.

manapp99Eagle ColoradoNYT Pick
Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg cannot take the information they gather and mistakenly imprison a person. The government can. Huge difference.

  1. "Metadata can be very revealing," said Orin S. Kerr, a law professor at George Washington University. "Knowing things like the number someone just dialed or the location of the person's cellphone is going to allow to assemble a picture of what someone is up to. It's the digital equivalent of tailing a suspect."

    So now every single American is a suspect to the NSA.

  1. Keeping us safe is a pretext. The aim of the massive security state is to have control over the people. And it's in the interest of private industry to maintain bloated surveillance programs when 70 percent of the intelligence budget is outsourced.

    NSA Whistleblower Thomas Drake: Snowden Saw What I Saw: Surveillance Criminally Subverting the Constitution

    "This executive fiat of 2001 violated not just the fourth amendment, but also Fisa rules at the time, which made it a felony – carrying a penalty of $10,000 and five years in prison for each and every instance. The supposed oversight, combined with enabling legislation – the Fisa court, the congressional committees – is all a KABUKI DANCE, predicated on the national security claim that we need to 'find a threat.'

    "The reality is, they just want it all, period.

    "To an NSA with these unwarranted powers, we're all potentially guilty; we're all potential suspects until we prove otherwise. That is what happens when the government has all the data.

    "The NSA is wiring the world; they want to own internet. I didn't want to be part of the dark blanket that covers the world, and Edward Snowden didn't either.

    "What Edward Snowden has done is an amazingly brave and courageous act of civil disobedience."

  1. How can the US claim democratic status and have the NSA in its midst, not only present, but fully legitimated--surveillance a creeping CANCER which denies the foundations of civil liberties, privacy, respect for the law, the inalienable rights of the individual? Yet POTUS chants the mantra of "Exceptionalism" and we all nod snugly in obedience.

    America under Obama is going down the wrong road. This is not an isolated operation but is integrally related to surveillance itself, Espionage Act prosecutions, and the rejection of government transparency. Even NSA budget requests are secret. This National-Security State is making a mockery of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and no one seems to care, itself symptomatic of creeping totalitarianism.

    We see multiple collection programs and databases; contact chaining; social network graphing; the abomination called Mainway; development of a portrait of the individual; on and on through the miasmal swamp of gut-fascist tactics and techniques--for what purpose? The more we strip away individual rights, the closer we come to a moral vacuum of nihilism--ripe for dictatorship, militarism, whatever most reproduces the political-structural EVILS of the 20th century, rather than seek the light, and meet the challenges of freedom.

    Abolish NSA and the FISA Court, but that just for starters. Obama will go down in history for the militarization of American capitalism and utter negation of civil liberties. Shame on the whole lot.

  1. I keep saying it and it's still true. Spying on everyone has nothing to do with national security and everything to do with paranoia. No amount of information is ever enough to satisfy paranoia and everything is subject to suspicion. Why should we, as a supposedly free country, live with this? Does being "free" not mean that we, the people, get to decide and not the generals or security industry? And can you just imagine how much they would hate to read this comment??? The idea of "the people" having a say terrifies them.

  1. What many people do not understand is that the NSA's approach potentially produces surveillance on all Americans, linking them to people they do not know. The concept that all Americans (even everyone on earth) are linked by 6 degrees of separation was proposed 50 years ago, and basically confirmed by an article in Scientific American a decade ago ("E-mail Study Corroborates Six Degrees of Separation," August 8, 2003). Probably every innocent American is somehow linked to at least one potential terrorist by about 6 degrees of separation. Thus what happened to Brandon Mayfield, the Portland, OR lawyer falsely accused of terrorist, could happen to any of us.

Martha ShelleyPortland OR
What ticks me off even more than the invasion of my privacy is that my tax dollars are being used for the purpose. The government spends billions to spy on everyone, here and abroad, but doesn't have enough money to provide food stamps to the destitute or fix the infrastructure. And none of this spying has resulted in the foiling of a terrorist plot. In fact, the last few foiled "terrorist plots" I heard of were engineered by the FBI--finding some hapless, angry young Muslim and pretending to provide him with a bomb, then arresting him. This serves as an excuse for even more spying.

Between NSA and the drone program, our government is creating millions of enemies around the world.\


When the authors here write, rather remarkably (and clairvoyantly), that "the spy agency, led by Gen. Keith B. Alexander, an unabashed advocate for more weapons in the hunt for information about the nation's adversaries", they both flatter the subject and exceed their own knowledge by a large measure.

Gen. Alexander's actual motives for pursuing universal surveillance can't be known; his apparent mania and his lies to the public about what the NSA is doing could have any number of causes: his character, his political convictions, his prejudices, ignorance, his understand of civilian society and his conception of the world order and the U.S. place in it.

In a word, Gen. Alexander's behavior is best regarded as pathological, like everyone else's. Indeed, the General has already given ample evidence that he is not reliable on factual questions, has extreme political views and indulges in magical thinking.

  1. NYT Pick

    Perhaps the most telling exchange of Thursday's Senate Intelligence Committee hearing was when Sen. Udall asked Gen. Alexander, "Is it the goal of the N.S.A. to collect the phone records of all Americans?"

    And the general responded:

    "Yes, I believe it is in the nation's best interest to put all the phone records into a lockbox that we could search when the nation needs to do it. Yes."

    Think about that for a moment.

    And who would have the key to the "lockbox"? None other than Gen. Alexander himself. The translation of his operative phrase "when the nation needs to do it" sounds suspiciously like "when I need to do it." As in "l'etat, c'est moi."

    Heading the N.S.A. is the closest thing this nation has to absolute power -- power to abuse our constitutional rights. With no transparency. And virtually no accountability, other than what so far has been laughable congressional "oversight."

    Gen. Alexander has had that power for more than eight years. Too long. And we see the results. It's high time for the president to nominate someone else, with a maximum six-year term, and for We the People to start recapturing our civil liberties from a surveillance state that has gotten out of control.

    We've somehow allowed "The End Justifies the Means" to become our national motto, but it's beneath us.

[Sep 28, 2013] Links for 09-28-2013

Comment to discussion of
Sep 28, 2013 | Economist's View
anne said...

September 28, 2013

N.S.A. Tracks Social Network Activities of U.S. Citizens

The analysis of phone call and e-mail logs for foreign intelligence purposes adds to the growing body of knowledge about the agency's access to private information, prompting concern from lawmakers.

anne said in reply to anne...

September 28, 2013

N.S.A. Examines Social Networks of U.S. Citizens

WASHINGTON - Since 2010, the National Security Agency has been exploiting its huge collections of data to create sophisticated graphs of some Americans' social connections that can identify their associates, their locations at certain times, their traveling companions and other personal information, according to newly disclosed documents and interviews with officials.

The spy agency began allowing the analysis of phone call and e-mail logs in November 2010 to examine Americans' networks of associations for foreign intelligence purposes after N.S.A. officials lifted restrictions on the practice, according to documents provided by Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor.

The policy shift was intended to help the agency "discover and track" connections between intelligence targets overseas and people in the United States, according to an N.S.A. memorandum from January 2011. The agency was authorized to conduct "large-scale graph analysis on very large sets of communications metadata without having to check foreignness" of every e-mail address, phone number or other identifier, the document said. Because of concerns about infringing on the privacy of American citizens, the computer analysis of such data had previously been permitted only for foreigners.

The agency can augment the communications data with material from public, commercial and other sources, including bank codes, insurance information, Facebook profiles, passenger manifests, voter registration rolls and GPS location information, as well as property records and unspecified tax data, according to the documents. They do not indicate any restrictions on the use of such "enrichment" data, and several former senior Obama administration officials said the agency drew on it for both Americans and foreigners.

N.S.A. officials declined to say how many Americans have been caught up in the effort, including people involved in no wrongdoing. The documents do not describe what has resulted from the scrutiny, which links phone numbers and e-mails in a "contact chain" tied directly or indirectly to a person or organization overseas that is of foreign intelligence interest.

The new disclosures add to the growing body of knowledge in recent months about the N.S.A.'s access to and use of private information concerning Americans, prompting lawmakers in Washington to call for reining in the agency and President Obama to order an examination of its surveillance policies. Almost everything about the agency's operations is hidden, and the decision to revise the limits concerning Americans was made in secret, without review by the nation's intelligence court or any public debate. As far back as 2006, a Justice Department memo warned of the potential for the "misuse" of such information without adequate safeguards.

An agency spokeswoman, asked about the analyses of Americans' data, said, "All data queries must include a foreign intelligence justification, period."

"All of N.S.A.'s work has a foreign intelligence purpose," the spokeswoman added. "Our activities are centered on counterterrorism, counterproliferation and cybersecurity."

The legal underpinning of the policy change, she said, was a 1979 Supreme Court ruling that Americans could have no expectation of privacy about what numbers they had called. Based on that ruling, the Justice Department and the Pentagon decided that it was permissible to create contact chains using Americans' "metadata," which includes the timing, location and other details of calls and e-mails, but not their content. The agency is not required to seek warrants for the analyses from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

N.S.A. officials declined to identify which phone and e-mail databases are used to create the social network diagrams, and the documents provided by Mr. Snowden do not specify them. The agency did say that the large database of Americans' domestic phone call records, which was revealed by Mr. Snowden in June and caused bipartisan alarm in Washington, was excluded. (N.S.A. officials have previously acknowledged that the agency has done limited analysis in that database, collected under provisions of the Patriot Act, exclusively for people who might be linked to terrorism suspects.)

But the agency has multiple collection programs and databases, the former officials said, adding that the social networking analyses relied on both domestic and international metadata. They spoke only on the condition of anonymity because the information was classified.

The concerns in the United States since Mr. Snowden's revelations have largely focused on the scope of the agency's collection of the private data of Americans and the potential for abuse. But the new documents provide a rare window into what the N.S.A. actually does with the information it gathers.

A series of agency PowerPoint presentations and memos describe how the N.S.A. has been able to develop software and other tools - one document cited a new generation of programs that "revolutionize" data collection and analysis - to unlock as many secrets about individuals as possible.

The spy agency, led by Gen. Keith B. Alexander, an unabashed advocate for more weapons in the hunt for information about the nation's adversaries, clearly views its collections of metadata as one of its most powerful resources. N.S.A. analysts can exploit that information to develop a portrait of an individual, one that is perhaps more complete and predictive of behavior than could be obtained by listening to phone conversations or reading e-mails, experts say.

Phone and e-mail logs, for example, allow analysts to identify people's friends and associates, detect where they were at a certain time, acquire clues to religious or political affiliations, and pick up sensitive information like regular calls to a psychiatrist's office, late-night messages to an extramarital partner or exchanges with a fellow plotter.

"Metadata can be very revealing," said Orin S. Kerr, a law professor at George Washington University. "Knowing things like the number someone just dialed or the location of the person's cellphone is going to allow to assemble a picture of what someone is up to. It's the digital equivalent of tailing a suspect."

The N.S.A. had been pushing for more than a decade to obtain the rule change allowing the analysis of Americans' phone and e-mail data. Intelligence officials had been frustrated that they had to stop when a contact chain hit a telephone number or e-mail address believed to be used by an American, even though it might yield valuable intelligence primarily concerning a foreigner who was overseas, according to documents previously disclosed by Mr. Snowden. N.S.A. officials also wanted to employ the agency's advanced computer analysis tools to sift through its huge databases with much greater efficiency.

The agency had asked for the new power as early as 1999, the documents show, but had been initially rebuffed because it was not permitted under rules of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that were intended to protect the privacy of Americans.

A 2009 draft of an N.S.A. inspector general's report suggests that contact chaining and analysis may have been done on Americans' communications data under the Bush administration's program of wiretapping without warrants, which began after the Sept. 11 attacks to detect terrorist activities and skirted the existing laws governing electronic surveillance.

In 2006, months after the wiretapping program was disclosed by The New York Times, the N.S.A.'s acting general counsel wrote a letter to a senior Justice Department official, which was also leaked by Mr. Snowden, formally asking for permission to perform the analysis on American phone and e-mail data. A Justice Department memo to the attorney general noted that the "misuse" of such information "could raise serious concerns," and said the N.S.A. promised to impose safeguards, including regular audits, on the metadata program. In 2008, the Bush administration gave its approval.

A new policy that year, detailed in "Defense Supplemental Procedures Governing Communications Metadata Analysis," authorized by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey, said that since the Supreme Court had ruled that metadata was not constitutionally protected, N.S.A. analysts could use such information "without regard to the nationality or location of the communicants," according to an internal N.S.A. description of the policy.

After that decision, which was previously reported by The Guardian, the N.S.A. performed the social network graphing in a pilot project for 1 ½ years "to great benefit," according to the 2011 memo. It was put in place in November 2010 in "Sigint Management Directive 424" (sigint refers to signals intelligence).

In the 2011 memo explaining the shift, N.S.A. analysts were told that they could trace the contacts of Americans as long as they cited a foreign intelligence justification. That could include anything from ties to terrorism, weapons proliferation, international drug smuggling or espionage to conversations with a foreign diplomat or a political figure.

Analysts were warned to follow existing "minimization rules," which prohibit the N.S.A. from sharing with other agencies names and other details of Americans whose communications are collected, unless they are necessary to understand foreign intelligence reports or there is evidence of a crime. The agency is required to obtain a warrant from the intelligence court to target a "U.S. person" - a citizen or legal resident - for actual eavesdropping.

The N.S.A. documents show that one of the main tools used for chaining phone numbers and e-mail addresses has the code name Mainway. It is a repository into which vast amounts of data flow daily from the agency's fiber-optic cables, corporate partners and foreign computer networks that have been hacked.

The documents show that significant amounts of information from the United States go into Mainway. An internal N.S.A. bulletin, for example, noted that in 2011 Mainway was taking in 700 million phone records per day. In August 2011, it began receiving an additional 1.1 billion cellphone records daily from an unnamed American service provider under Section 702 of the 2008 FISA Amendments Act, which allows for the collection of the data of Americans if at least one end of the communication is believed to be foreign.

The overall volume of metadata collected by the N.S.A. is reflected in the agency's secret 2013 budget request to Congress. The budget document, disclosed by Mr. Snowden, shows that the agency is pouring money and manpower into creating a metadata repository capable of taking in 20 billion "record events" daily and making them available to N.S.A. analysts within 60 minutes....

The Blorch said in reply to anne...

The program could be a digital public good if only a wider audience was granted access to the data.

anne said in reply to The Blorch...

The program could be a digital public good if only a wider audience was granted access to the data.

[ We have a fundamental right to privacy, or so I have supposed, and I do not think that right vanishes as we become technically adept. A court may limit the right to privacy of a specific person, when there is a public safety issue involved, but that should be a matter of due and specific process. ]

The Blorch said in reply to anne...

A court may limit the right to privacy of a specific person, when there is a public safety...

[ And just the opposite for the government. Their right to secrecy is enhanced when safety is an issue.]

anne said in reply to The Blorch...

The right to privacy of ordinary people has been repeatedly and massively infringed by the government at the cost of Constitutional guarantees and given such guarantees this is intolerable.

im1dc said in reply to anne...

"We have a fundamental right to privacy"

Where exactly does it say in the US Constitution and its Amendments that Americans have a fundamental right to privacy in our public dealings, i.e., social networks?

Kievite said in reply to anne...


The situation is probably much worse and is rapidly deteriorating as new datacenters come online and new methods of analysis are developed.

In a way, this is a blowback from Iraq invasion as those methods were first tested against Iraq insurgents.

The article does not mention your credit card transactions and transaction as Internet retailers such as Amazon, but they are even more revealing.

In essence, any of us is like a bug under the microscope...

The only antidote is the huge volume of the "rich media" data, but metadata are pretty compact and can be stored for the life of the person.

That creates a whole new, unheard in history level of control of citizens by the government. The level that has no precedents.

In a way any Android phone or iPhone as well as your Gmail/Hotmail/Yahoo accounts are like full-time Stasi agents that are watching your every step.

Adding insult to the injury many of us are willing to spy on ourselves, creating vanity pages on Facebook and putting personal information as well as our friends information in it; sending emails were none is required or posting in the blogs ;-)

N.S.A. Examines Social Networks of U.S. Citizens By JAMES RISEN and LAURA POITRAS

Since 2010 for all US citizens who have a foreign correspondent.
September 28, 2013 | NYT

Since 2010, the National Security Agency has been exploiting its huge collections of data to create sophisticated graphs of some Americans' social connections that can identify their associates, their locations at certain times, their traveling companions and other personal information, according to newly disclosed documents and interviews with officials.

The spy agency began allowing the analysis of phone call and e-mail logs in November 2010 to examine Americans' networks of associations for foreign intelligence purposes after N.S.A. officials lifted restrictions on the practice, according to documents provided by Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor.

The policy shift was intended to help the agency "discover and track" connections between intelligence targets overseas and people in the United States, according to an N.S.A. memorandum from January 2011. The agency was authorized to conduct "large-scale graph analysis on very large sets of communications metadata without having to check foreignness" of every e-mail address, phone number or other identifier, the document said. Because of concerns about infringing on the privacy of American citizens, the computer analysis of such data had previously been permitted only for foreigners.

The agency can augment the communications data with material from public, commercial and other sources, including bank codes, insurance information, Facebook profiles, passenger manifests, voter registration rolls and GPS location information, as well as property records and unspecified tax data, according to the documents. They do not indicate any restrictions on the use of such "enrichment" data, and several former senior Obama administration officials said the agency drew on it for both Americans and foreigners.

N.S.A. officials declined to say how many Americans have been caught up in the effort, including people involved in no wrongdoing. The documents do not describe what has resulted from the scrutiny, which links phone numbers and e-mails in a "contact chain" tied directly or indirectly to a person or organization overseas that is of foreign intelligence interest.

The new disclosures add to the growing body of knowledge in recent months about the N.S.A.'s access to and use of private information concerning Americans, prompting lawmakers in Washington to call for reining in the agency and President Obama to order an examination of its surveillance policies. Almost everything about the agency's operations is hidden, and the decision to revise the limits concerning Americans was made in secret, without review by the nation's intelligence court or any public debate. As far back as 2006, a Justice Department memo warned of the potential for the "misuse" of such information without adequate safeguards.

An agency spokeswoman, asked about the analyses of Americans' data, said, "All data queries must include a foreign intelligence justification, period."

"All of N.S.A.'s work has a foreign intelligence purpose," the spokeswoman added. "Our activities are centered on counterterrorism, counterproliferation and cybersecurity."

The legal underpinning of the policy change, she said, was a 1979 Supreme Court ruling that Americans could have no expectation of privacy about what numbers they had called. Based on that ruling, the Justice Department and the Pentagon decided that it was permissible to create contact chains using Americans' "metadata," which includes the timing, location and other details of calls and e-mails, but not their content. The agency is not required to seek warrants for the analyses from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

N.S.A. officials declined to identify which phone and e-mail databases are used to create the social network diagrams, and the documents provided by Mr. Snowden do not specify them. The agency did say that the large database of Americans' domestic phone call records, which was revealed by Mr. Snowden in June and caused bipartisan alarm in Washington, was excluded. (N.S.A. officials have previously acknowledged that the agency has done limited analysis in that database, collected under provisions of the Patriot Act, exclusively for people who might be linked to terrorism suspects.)

But the agency has multiple collection programs and databases, the former officials said, adding that the social networking analyses relied on both domestic and international metadata. They spoke only on the condition of anonymity because the information was classified.

The concerns in the United States since Mr. Snowden's revelations have largely focused on the scope of the agency's collection of the private data of Americans and the potential for abuse. But the new documents provide a rare window into what the N.S.A. actually does with the information it gathers.

A series of agency PowerPoint presentations and memos describe how the N.S.A. has been able to develop software and other tools - one document cited a new generation of programs that "revolutionize" data collection and analysis - to unlock as many secrets about individuals as possible.

The spy agency, led by Gen. Keith B. Alexander, an unabashed advocate for more weapons in the hunt for information about the nation's adversaries, clearly views its collections of metadata as one of its most powerful resources. N.S.A. analysts can exploit that information to develop a portrait of an individual, one that is perhaps more complete and predictive of behavior than could be obtained by listening to phone conversations or reading e-mails, experts say.

Phone and e-mail logs, for example, allow analysts to identify people's friends and associates, detect where they were at a certain time, acquire clues to religious or political affiliations, and pick up sensitive information like regular calls to a psychiatrist's office, late-night messages to an extramarital partner or exchanges with a fellow plotter.

"Metadata can be very revealing," said Orin S. Kerr, a law professor at George Washington University. "Knowing things like the number someone just dialed or the location of the person's cellphone is going to allow to assemble a picture of what someone is up to. It's the digital equivalent of tailing a suspect."

The N.S.A. had been pushing for more than a decade to obtain the rule change allowing the analysis of Americans' phone and e-mail data. Intelligence officials had been frustrated that they had to stop when a contact chain hit a telephone number or e-mail address believed to be used by an American, even though it might yield valuable intelligence primarily concerning a foreigner who was overseas, according to documents previously disclosed by Mr. Snowden. N.S.A. officials also wanted to employ the agency's advanced computer analysis tools to sift through its huge databases with much greater efficiency.

The agency had asked for the new power as early as 1999, the documents show, but had been initially rebuffed because it was not permitted under rules of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that were intended to protect the privacy of Americans.

A 2009 draft of an N.S.A. inspector general's report suggests that contact chaining and analysis may have been done on Americans' communications data under the Bush administration's program of wiretapping without warrants, which began after the Sept. 11 attacks to detect terrorist activities and skirted the existing laws governing electronic surveillance.

In 2006, months after the wiretapping program was disclosed by The New York Times, the N.S.A.'s acting general counsel wrote a letter to a senior Justice Department official, which was also leaked by Mr. Snowden, formally asking for permission to perform the analysis on American phone and e-mail data. A Justice Department memo to the attorney general noted that the "misuse" of such information "could raise serious concerns," and said the N.S.A. promised to impose safeguards, including regular audits, on the metadata program. In 2008, the Bush administration gave its approval.

A new policy that year, detailed in "Defense Supplemental Procedures Governing Communications Metadata Analysis," authorized by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey, said that since the Supreme Court had ruled that metadata was not constitutionally protected, N.S.A. analysts could use such information "without regard to the nationality or location of the communicants," according to an internal N.S.A. description of the policy.

After that decision, which was previously reported by The Guardian, the N.S.A. performed the social network graphing in a pilot project for 1 ½ years "to great benefit," according to the 2011 memo. It was put in place in November 2010 in "Sigint Management Directive 424" (sigint refers to signals intelligence).

In the 2011 memo explaining the shift, N.S.A. analysts were told that they could trace the contacts of Americans as long as they cited a foreign intelligence justification. That could include anything from ties to terrorism, weapons proliferation, international drug smuggling or espionage to conversations with a foreign diplomat or a political figure.

Analysts were warned to follow existing "minimization rules," which prohibit the N.S.A. from sharing with other agencies names and other details of Americans whose communications are collected, unless they are necessary to understand foreign intelligence reports or there is evidence of a crime. The agency is required to obtain a warrant from the intelligence court to target a "U.S. person" - a citizen or legal resident - for actual eavesdropping.

The N.S.A. documents show that one of the main tools used for chaining phone numbers and e-mail addresses has the code name Mainway. It is a repository into which vast amounts of data flow daily from the agency's fiber-optic cables, corporate partners and foreign computer networks that have been hacked.

The documents show that significant amounts of information from the United States go into Mainway. An internal N.S.A. bulletin, for example, noted that in 2011 Mainway was taking in 700 million phone records per day. In August 2011, it began receiving an additional 1.1 billion cellphone records daily from an unnamed American service provider under Section 702 of the 2008 FISA Amendments Act, which allows for the collection of the data of Americans if at least one end of the communication is believed to be foreign.

The overall volume of metadata collected by the N.S.A. is reflected in the agency's secret 2013 budget request to Congress. The budget document, disclosed by Mr. Snowden, shows that the agency is pouring money and manpower into creating a metadata repository capable of taking in 20 billion "record events" daily and making them available to N.S.A. analysts within 60 minutes....

[Aug 25, 2013] Internet Architects Plan Counter-Attack On NSA Snooping

Aug 24, 2013 | ZeroHedge

"Not having encryption on the web today is a matter of life and death," is how one member of the Internet Engineering Task Force - IETF (the so-called architects of the web) described the current situation. As the FT reports, the IETF have started to fight back against US and UK snooping programs by drawing up an ambitious plan to defend traffic over the world wide web against mass surveillance. The proposal is a system in which all communication between websites and browsers would be shielded by encryption. While the plan is at an early stage, it has the potential to transform a large part of the internet and make it more difficult for governments, companies and criminals to eavesdrop on people as they browse the web. "There has been a complete change in how people perceive the world," since Snowden exposed the NSA's massive surveillance efforts, and while "not a silver bullet," the chief technologist at security firm RSA notes, "anything that improves trust in this digital world is a noble aim."

NSA analysts 'wilfully violated' surveillance systems, agency admits

August 24, 2013 | The Guardian

The National Security Agency has admitted that some of its analysts deliberately abused its surveillance systems, with one analyst disciplined for using NSA resources to track a former spouse.

The agency said Friday it had found "very rare instances of wilful violations of NSA's authorities" as officials briefed reporters that various agents had used the NSA's controversial data monitoring capabilities to spy on love interests.

"NSA takes very seriously allegations of misconduct, and co-operates fully with any investigations – responding as appropriate," the NSA said in a statement. "NSA has zero tolerance for willful violations of the agency's authorities."


For fucks sake, they just don't get it do they? The whole bloody thing is an abuse of state power which has no real precedence . To make out that one analyst tracking his ex is an abuse is taking the piss on a massive scale.


It's cretinous waste of money unless spying on the populace is a goal.

Power and control is the goal, achieved under the guise of protecting the public from terror in what ever form it takes. The Global free market has been shown to be a Ponsi scheme for corporate powers, workers rights eroded as Globalization allows exploitation of resources. The population is drip fed propaganda, dumb down to accept whatever it is told. The "war on Terror" has gifted the Global elite almost totalitarian control on a scale never seen in times of peace, yet, at the same time, gifting corporations public funding, in massive amounts, to "protect" the state and it's populations.

It's the neo-conservative version of 1984 made real.

try to protest or organise any form of descent and you'll see the power they now have.

Zhubajie bedfont

Most terrorists arrested in the US turn out to be FBI employees.


NSA has zero tolerance for willful violations of the agency's authorities.

that's not what I have a problem with - I have a problem with the mass interception of any electronic communication by the NSA and GCHQ - with no knowing what, how many, how often my e-mails have been recorded, stored etc - in fact I do not have any right to any expectation of privacy at all, that is what pisses me off!


Quite honestly it just doesn't matter that the NSA have taken abusers to task over love interest infringements. What does matter is that there is a system in place, without democratic supervision, to totally undermine dissent to our political masters. Extremely dangerous.


"Every move you make..."

Creepy as this is, and it's beyond creepy--think of all the financial/business information NSA employees and contractors could abuse.

Time to pull the plug on this wholesale scooping up of all our data.


It really fucks me off that Sting, of all people, was right about this all along


Who cares?

Sounds the NSA are putting out this sort of propaganda to try and convince the world that they slap the pee pees of some of their unruly staff.

Not good enough, I'm afraid.


We saw how the police have used their powers during the miners strike, Hillsborough , hand in glove with News International, plus framing the minister at Downing St and Thomlimsons death. They have acted on occasion like a private army. Corrupted by power. The NSA and GCHQ are closed 'communities ' with far more power. Their misuse and corruption will be an even greater threat to those they are supposed to be protecting.


data monitoring for amorous purposes.

That makes it sound almost cute and romantic. Whereas these people are fucking creeps abusing their power to illegally stalk the unwitting targets of their 'amorous' interests.

I once knew a woman in this country who suffered something similar from a police officer and funnily enough she didn't find it even remotely romantic, especially when after rejecting him it turned nasty. With the powers available to him he damn near ruined her life, now imagine what one of these goons could do to you if they had it in for you.


The National In-Security Agency has zero credibility. Its latest line is that Snowden - a single analyst out of the 1 million or so with access to this information - used 'sophisticated efforts' to cover his tracks! How poor and inadequate must the NSA's internal controls be that a single analyst can cover up their tracks? Are there no audit trails, authorisation procedures, tired access controls? How is it possible that a single analyst can access data and cover up their tracks in the world's spy agency? From the article:

the National Security Agency have been frustrated by Snowden's sophisticated efforts to cover his digital trail by deleting or bypassing electronic logs, government officials told The Associated Press. Such logs would have showed what information Snowden viewed or downloaded.

So a single person can access data and then edit monitoring and control systems so that all tracks of their access is wiped. This is a scandal in itself.

To NSA peeping toms: when in a hole, stop digging.

MelFarrellSr -> fickleposter

Here's the thing about the NSA, the GCHQ, Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, et al...

We all have to stop commenting as if the NSA and the GCHQ are in this thing on their own; the reality is that no one was supposed to know one iota about any of these programs; the NSA and the GCHQ began and put in place the structure that would allow all internet service providers, and indeed all corporations using the net, the ability to track and profile each and every user on the planet, whether they be using the net, texting, cell, and landline.

We all now know that Google, Yahoo, and the rest, likely including major retailers, and perhaps not so major retailers, are all getting paid by the United States government, hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money, our money, to profile 24/7 each and every one of us..., they know how we think, our desires, our sexual preferences, our religious persuasion, what we spend, etc.; make no mistake about it, they know it all, and what they don't currently have, they will very soon…

These agencies and indeed all those who are paid by them, will be engaged over the next few weeks in a unified program of "perception management" meaning that they will together come up with an all-encompassing plan that will include the release of all manner of statements attesting to the enforcement of several different disciplinary actions against whomever for "illegal" breaches of policy...

They may even bring criminal actions against a few poor unfortunate souls who had no idea they would be sacrificed as one part of the "perception management" game.

Has anyone wondered why, to date, no one in power has really come out and suggested that the program must be curtailed to limit its application to terrorism and terrorist types?

Here's why; I was fortunate recently to have given an education on how networks such as Prism, really work, aside from the rudimentary details given in many publications. They cannot, and will not, stop monitoring even one individuals activity, because to do so will eventually cause loss of the ability to effectively monitor as many as 2.5 Million individuals.

Remember the "Two to Three Hop" scenario, which the idiot in one of the hearings inadvertently spoke of; therein lies the answer. If the average person called 40 unique people, three-hop analysis would allow the government to mine the records of 2.5 million Americans Do the math; Internet usage in the United States as of June 30, 2012 reached a total of over 245,000,000 million…

The following link shows how connected the world is…

We should never forget how the Internet began, and who developed it, the United States Armed Forces; initially it was known as Arpanet, see excerpt and link below…

"The Internet may fairly be regarded as a never-ending worldwide conversation." - Supreme Court Judge statement on considering first amendment rights for Internet users.

"On a cold war kind of day, in swinging 1969, work began on the ARPAnet, grandfather to the Internet. Designed as a computer version of the nuclear bomb shelter, ARPAnet protected the flow of information between military installations by creating a network of geographically separated computers that could exchange information via a newly developed protocol (rule for how computers interact) called NCP (Network Control Protocol)."

There is no government anywhere on the planet that will give up any part of the program…, not without one hell of a fight...

Incidentally, they do hope and believe that everyone will come to the same conclusion; they will keep all of us at bay for however long it takes; they have the money, they have the time, and they economically control all of us...

Pretty good bet they win...


The public may be slow to worry about civil liberties issues. But now they will start to realise that all their financial details, their passwords, their on-line monetary security is being intercepted and stored. And nobody will be able to prove which individuals doing the surveillance might choose to abuse that information.

If that doesn't ring alarm bells nothing will.


Have they checked how much insider trading is going on, using information gained by snooping? How about blackmail? Or industrial espionage? Are the authorities monitoring all the bank accounts, emails, phone calls, etc. of every single person with access to any or all of this data?

If there was ever a system which is open to abuses, it is one which collates all the private digital data of the whole world.


Or industrial espionage?

Absolutely. See EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT report dated 11 July 2001 (Note it was before the 9/11 attack in the US).

7. Compatibility of an 'ECHELON' type communications interception system with Union law

7.1. Preliminary considerations
7.2. Compatibility of an intelligence system with Union law

7.2.1. Compatibility with EC law
7.2.2. Compatibility with other EU law

7.3. The question of compatibility in the event of misuse of the system for industrial espionage
7.4. Conclusion


The NSA is out of control, it is time to pull the plug. It has removed all privacy, nothing is private and even the microphones in our mobile phones can be activated remotely and conversations recorded. The NSA is potentially the biggest blackmailing machine in human history. Our politicians will be top of the list for vulnerability to blackmail. The NSA is in violation of basic international human rights laws: the right to a private life. destroying any illusion of democracy. This is corpocracy not democracy and it has to go.

muttley79 -> EntropyNow

The NSA is out of control, it is time to pull the plug.

I fear it is too late. The NSA apparently employs over 35,000 NSA employees....... DEA,FBI,CIA,State, county and city police. etc... this is a free for all.. Can you see the American government putting this kind of a number of people out of a job? Would they even dare to try?

EntropyNow -> StrawBear

The fact that they snoop on us all constantly, that's the problem. I agree that the indiscriminate surveillance is a problem. However, with such vast powers in the hands of private contractors, without robust legal oversight, it is wide open to abuse and interpretation. I believe we need to pull the plug and start again, with robust, independent, legal oversight, which respects fundamental international human rights laws In the US, the NDAA is a law which gives the government the right to indefinitely detain US citizens, without due process, without a trial, if they are suspected to be associated with 'terrorists'. Now define 'terrorism'?

Section 1021b is particularly worrying, concerning "substantial support." It is wide open to interpretation and abuse, which could criminalize dissent and even investigative journalism. See Guardian's excellent article by Naomi Wolf, 17 May 2012::

As Judge Forrest pointed out:

"An individual could run the risk of substantially supporting or directly supporting an associated force without even being aware that he or she was doing so. In the face of what could be indeterminate military detention, due process requires more."

In an excellent episode of Breaking the Set Feb 7 2013 Tangerine Bolen (Founder and Director, Revolutiontruth) stated that 'Occupy London' was designated a 'terrorist group" officially. There are independent journalists and civil liberty activists being targeted by private cyber security firms, which are contractors for the DOD, they are being harassed and intimidated, threatening free speech and liberty for everyone, everywhere. As Naomi Wolf concludes:

"This darkness is so dangerous not least because a new Department of Homeland Security document trove, released in response to a FOIA request filed by Michael Moore and the National Lawyers' Guild, proves in exhaustive detail that the DHS and its "fusion centers" coordinated with local police (as I argued here, to initial disbelief), the violent crackdown against Occupy last fall. You have to put these pieces of evidence together: the government cannot be trusted with powers to detain indefinitely any US citizen – even though Obama promised he would not misuse these powers – because the United States government is already coordinating a surveillance and policing war against its citizens, designed to suppress their peaceful assembly and criticism of its corporate allies."


Perhaps the NSA would like to issue a statement about lawyer-client confidentially, as much confidential information passes via email these days, and is clearly open to the official gaze of the NSA and "rogues" within the system.

This does not only concern matrimonial "love interest" cases but all civil and most criminal cases. Unless, this loop-hole is closed, and rapidily then our entire legal system and system of justice is open to abuse, particularly where NSA employees can use that information for more overt political or financial gain.

OnSecondThoughts -> carlitoontour

Focus says they have admitted to a "handful" of cases. The same point, near enough, is made in the WSJ..

The stupid thing is that these were low-level analysts who were caught. They should have known that their activities are automatically logged; it's just, as Snowden said, the useless lazy managers hardly ever bother to read the report.

Now the sysadmins, like Snowden himself, can bypass the whole logging process. So nobody in the agency has the slightest idea of really how much misbehaviour there's been.

If you're really lucky they'll just be sniggering over your emails in the break room. If you're unlucky . . . there's no knowing how much mischief has been done to the country -- and I don't mean by Snowden.


Don't worry about some rogue agent checking on his ex, what about sensitive information that would affect a stock or bond share? What about selling some foreign product design kept in the cloud to a U.S. competitor? TRUST NO-ONE - especially U.S. servers and cloud services!!!


These guys are just going through the motions, responding to every outrageous revelation with standard procedure.

Truth be told, they don't give a shit about the fallout. Why?

Because they're America.



The german FOCUS - - about LOVEINT - Missusing the Surveillance tools.

The so called LOVEINT is the NSA intern "nickname" for snooping on the own partners. But there are only a "few cases" where NSA employees used their power of snooping on their partner......

Welcome Stasi - each NSA employee is willing to do everything against everybody.


It seems to me that potential terrorist threats come in two sorts: the highly organised and funded groups that could commit catastrophic destruction, and the local schmucks that are really just old-fashioned losers-with-a-grudge adopting an empowering ideology.

The first group would be immensely cautious with their communications, and fall outside this sort of surveillance. The second group, if Boston and Woolwich are any evidence, are not effectively detected by these measures.

It appears very clear to me that this is runaway state power, predictably and transparently deflected with cries of "terrorism". And, perhaps most worrying, that definition of terrorism is now as wide as the state requires. Anything that embarrasses or exposes the evils of our states, including rendition, torture, and all manner of appalling injustice, is classified as a matter of 'national security', which must not be exposed lest it aid the enemy.

I know Orwell's name gets tossed around too much... but Jesus! I really hope we're not bovine enough to walk serenely into this future.


Zero tolerance for abuse-hahahahahahahahahahahahaha Believe that and you will believe anything. The incipient paranoia of the ruling groups in the USA has a historical precedence, given the time of the McCarthy witch hunts.

If they believe their wealth and privilege may be threatened, they will act accordingly and, usually, illegally.


More than abuse from the state, I always feared abuse by rogue agents using their information for blackmail purpose (for financial or political gain) or industrial spying on behalf a third party. This disclosure makes it, in my mind, more and more possible.


...The NSA's infrastructure wasn't built to fight Al Qaeda. It has a far greater purpose, one of which is to keep the USA as the last superpower and moral authority for the rest of the time humanity has in this world.

All this muck is hurting bad. Obama is having a tough time from all sides. All the moralists think he is a villain doing everything he promised to change. All the secret society members think he is a clown who has spilled out every secret that was painstakingly put together over decades....


I think abuses of such power are almost inevitable. Using the resources to spy on loved ones is bad enough but what concerns me is the potential for blackmail.

The Wall Street Journal also said anonymous officials had admitted that NSA analysts had abused their positions to monitor love interests. It said the practice is infrequent but "common enough to garner its own spycraft label: LOVEINT".

Could this sound any more Orwellian?


This is where the "nothing to hide nothing to fear" argument collapses.

This is just a case of someone inappropriately checking up on a former spouse and is fairly benign compared to other possible abuses of power. If surveillance is allowed to grow it will only be a matter of time before a celebrity stalker or a sexual predator - a rapist or a paedophile is able to slip through the NSA's employee vetting procedures and build for themselves detailed profiles of their intended victims. This kind of misuse of intelligence resources needs to be considered treason and carry a mandatory life sentence.


If you look into the history of the Gestapo you find that it was mostly an intelligence gathering operation. It collected meticulous records on 'people of interest' and by collating those records it was able to determine who was likely to be in what dissident organization and so where to focus their operational part -- the leather trenchcoat heavies, the 'enhanced questioning' (yes...the term was in use back then) and generally who to terrorize. Their impact much larger than their establishment because like a huge Panopticon everyone was capable of being observed but nobody knew exactly when they were being looked at.

Now I'm not expecting the NSA to turn into the Gestapo (although curiously enough we seem to have similar 'preventative detention' statues on the books these days) but the parallel should indicate the potential for abuse. The Gestapo's capabilities were relatively limited because they lived in a pre-communications era -- as was remarked only yesterday laws formulated just 30 years ago designed to manage privacy are woefully out of date. The fact is that we've allowed an overarching security state to grow up, notionally to protect the Homeland from subversive elements but actually to keep the population under control. The fact that the way it describes itself and its threats could with minimal editing could be lifted from a 1930s era German newsreel is, again, purely coincidence. (OK -- instead of "International Jewry" we've got "International Islam" but if you allow for that the parallels are striking.)


Another scandal is that Booz Allen - the firm Snowden worked for - gets 99% of its revenues from the public's purse, and yet the CEO of Booz Allen gets a tax payer funded salary of $5million, with a 47% pay raise in the past year! This is a real welfare whore, this level of remuneration must make him the highest paid public 'servant'. US taxes being used to spy on law abiding private citizens and create 'profit' for firms reliant on the taxpayer's teat.

This is exactly the kind of corporate/state relationship Mussolini had in mind when he said: "Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power"

sgtdoom -> fickleposter

And Booz-Allen is owned by that private equity/LBO firm, the Carlyle Group, founded by an ex-CIA type and a Wall Streeter. No surprise there!

geoffreydegalles -> sgtdoom

To add fuel to the flames:- One of Assange's persecutors, Carl Bildt, Sweden's Minister for Foreign Affairs, is a Board Member and the Senior International Advisor of Booz Allen Hamilton Holdings, Snowden's former employer, also a Board Member and the S.I.A. of Akin Gump Global Solutions, a data-capture company. Not so surprisingly, perhaps, Condolezza Rice is a Board Member of both companies, and both she and Bildt like to spend their vacations in Aspen seeing as they are both Board Members of the Aspen Institute. All this is scandalous and sucks real bad. Does Minister Bildt receive a nice big fat salary from BAHH in the USA and declare it to the tax-man back in Sweden?


Of course they did. Accepting human nature as what it is we can also assume they were tempted to use it to get money - e.g. checking out what people in the know have to say about share tips; to spy on lovers / mistresses; to get the upper hand in negotiations (custody of children; home sales); to help out influential friends / colleagues etc etc.....

I'm sure what they are owning up to now is merely the tip of the iceberg.


I wonder what banks think about all of this as their online customers' account details can't be considered secure now.

InoWis1 -> PariahCarefree

We have not heard YET........... have the banks been receiving same payments? Ya'al have to be cray to think thoughs yellow bellies didn't fold first. If their was/is a dollar on the table they took it. Them pigs then passed it back with the ink removed. !!


Thanks for the article, but let us be realistic and not fall for the usual story of this being a discrete event (all the latest surveillance, that is). This dates back to the founding of the Financial-Intelligence-Complex during and in the aftermath of World War II, by the Wall Streeters for their super-rich bosses, the Rockefellers, Morgans, du Ponts, Mellons, Harrimans (now Mortimers), etc.

And it always ...... always translates to financial intel for their use and abuse:

This is the senior story to the subset of the illegal surveillance by them:

Ginny McCabe

The NSA is out of control and the voters in my country are going have to get rid of as many house and senate members as possible. They used 9-11 Attacks to go hog wild with their illegal spying. We can not hold the NSA's feet to the fire, but we can sure dump the members of the oversight committees. By the way, more and more Americans are reading The Guardian because the majority of the American news companies are utterly


Hmm, they could get your passwords and log into ALL of your accounts. Check. Delete evidence you intended to use in court. Check. Determine when your not home and break in. Check. Block all of your legal strategies.&nbsp; Check. Completely screw your life up. Check. Try to set you up because you might one day prove it happened. Check. Blick your every attempt to out them. Check. Make you "appear "crazy" because wh

[Aug 24, 2013] NSA paid millions to cover Prism compliance costs for tech companies

Tax dollars at work...
Aug 23, 2013 | The Guardian

A Yahoo spokesperson said:

"Federal law requires the US government to reimburse providers for costs incurred to respond to compulsory legal process imposed by the government. We have requested reimbursement consistent with this law."

Asked about the reimbursement of costs relating to compliance with Fisa court certifications, Facebook responded by saying it had "never received any compensation in connection with responding to a government data request".

Google did not answer any of the specific questions put to it, and provided only a general statement denying it had joined Prism or any other surveillance program. It added: "We await the US government's response to our petition to publish more national security request data, which will show that our compliance with American national security laws falls far short of the wild claims still being made in the press today."

Microsoft declined to give a response on the record.

The responses further expose the gap between how the NSA describes the operation of its Prism collection program and what the companies themselves say.

Prism operates under section 702 of the Fisa Amendments Act, which authorizes the NSA to target without a warrant the communications of foreign nationals believed to be not on US soil.

But Snowden's revelations have shown that US emails and calls are collected in large quantities in the course of these 702 operations, either deliberately because the individual has been in contact with a foreign intelligence target or inadvertently because the NSA is unable to separate out purely domestic communications.

... ... ...

The Guardian informed the White House, the NSA and the office of the director of national intelligence that it planned to publish the documents and asked whether the spy agency routinely covered all the costs of the Prism providers and what the annual cost was to the US.

The NSA declined to comment beyond requesting the redaction of the name of an individual staffer in one of the documents.

UPDATE: After publication, Microsoft issued a statement to the Guardian on Friday afternoon.

A spokesperson for Microsoft, which seeks reimbursement from the government on a case-by-case basis, said: "Microsoft only complies with court orders because it is legally ordered to, not because it is reimbursed for the work. We could have a more informed discussion of these issues if providers could share additional information, including aggregate statistics on the number of any national security orders they may receive."

[Aug 17, 2013] What We Lose if We Give Up Privacy A civil libertarian reflects on the dangers of the surveillance state.By PEGGY NOONAN

August 16, 2013 |

What is privacy? Why should we want to hold onto it? Why is it important, necessary, precious?

Is it just some prissy relic of the pretechnological past?

We talk about this now because of Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency revelations, and new fears that we are operating, all of us, within what has become or is becoming a massive surveillance state. They log your calls here, they can listen in, they can read your emails. They keep the data in mammoth machines that contain a huge collection of information about you and yours. This of course is in pursuit of a laudable goal, security in the age of terror.

Is it excessive? It certainly appears to be. Does that matter? Yes. Among other reasons: The end of the expectation that citizens' communications are and will remain private will probably change us as a people, and a country.


Among the pertinent definitions of privacy from the Oxford English Dictionary: "freedom from disturbance or intrusion," "intended only for the use of a particular person or persons," belonging to "the property of a particular person." Also: "confidential, not to be disclosed to others." Among others, the OED quotes the playwright Arthur Miller, describing the McCarthy era: "Conscience was no longer a private matter but one of state administration."

Privacy is connected to personhood. It has to do with intimate things-the innards of your head and heart, the workings of your mind-and the boundary between those things and the world outside.

Enlarge Image



Martin Kozlowski

A loss of the expectation of privacy in communications is a loss of something personal and intimate, and it will have broader implications. That is the view of Nat Hentoff, the great journalist and civil libertarian. He is 88 now and on fire on the issue of privacy. "The media has awakened," he told me. "Congress has awakened, to some extent." Both are beginning to realize "that there are particular constitutional liberty rights that [Americans] have that distinguish them from all other people, and one of them is privacy."

Mr. Hentoff sees excessive government surveillance as violative of the Fourth Amendment, which protects "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures" and requires that warrants be issued only "upon probable cause . . . particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

But Mr. Hentoff sees the surveillance state as a threat to free speech, too. About a year ago he went up to Harvard to speak to a class. He asked, he recalled: "How many of you realize the connection between what's happening with the Fourth Amendment with the First Amendment?" He told the students that if citizens don't have basic privacies-firm protections against the search and seizure of your private communications, for instance-they will be left feeling "threatened." This will make citizens increasingly concerned "about what they say, and they do, and they think." It will have the effect of constricting freedom of expression. Americans will become careful about what they say that can be misunderstood or misinterpreted, and then too careful about what they say that can be understood. The inevitable end of surveillance is self-censorship.

All of a sudden, the room became quiet. "These were bright kids, interested, concerned, but they hadn't made an obvious connection about who we are as a people." We are "free citizens in a self-governing republic."

Mr. Hentoff once asked Justice William Brennan "a schoolboy's question": What is the most important amendment to the Constitution? "Brennan said the First Amendment, because all the other ones come from that. If you don't have free speech you have to be afraid, you lack a vital part of what it is to be a human being who is free to be who you want to be." Your own growth as a person will in time be constricted, because we come to know ourselves by our thoughts.

He wonders if Americans know who they are compared to what the Constitution says they are.

Mr. Hentoff's second point: An entrenched surveillance state will change and distort the balance that allows free government to function successfully. Broad and intrusive surveillance will, definitively, put government in charge. But a republic only works, Mr. Hentoff notes, if public officials know that they-and the government itself-answer to the citizens. It doesn't work, and is distorted, if the citizens must answer to the government. And that will happen more and more if the government knows-and you know-that the government has something, or some things, on you. "The bad thing is you no longer have the one thing we're supposed to have as Americans living in a self-governing republic," Mr. Hentoff said. "The people we elect are not your bosses, they are responsible to us." They must answer to us. But if they increasingly control our privacy, "suddenly they're in charge if they know what you're thinking."

This is a shift in the democratic dynamic. "If we don't have free speech then what can we do if the people who govern us have no respect for us, may indeed make life difficult for us, and in fact belittle us?"

If massive surveillance continues and grows, could it change the national character? "Yes, because it will change free speech."

What of those who say, "I have nothing to fear, I don't do anything wrong"? Mr. Hentoff suggests that's a false sense of security. "When you have this amount of privacy invasion put into these huge data banks, who knows what will come out?" Or can be made to come out through misunderstanding the data, or finagling, or mischief of one sort or another. "People say, 'Well I've done nothing wrong so why should I worry?' But that's too easy a way to get out of what is in our history-constant attempts to try to change who we are as Americans." Asked about those attempts, he mentions the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, the Red Scare of the 1920s and the McCarthy era. Those times and incidents, he says, were more than specific scandals or news stories, they were attempts to change our nature as a people.

What of those who say they don't care what the federal government does as long as it keeps us safe? The threat of terrorism is real, Mr. Hentoff acknowledges. Al Qaeda is still here, its networks are growing. But you have to be careful about who's running U.S. intelligence and U.S. security, and they have to be fully versed in and obey constitutional guarantees.

"There has to be somebody supervising them who knows what's right. . . . Terrorism is not going to go away. But we need someone in charge of the whole apparatus who has read the Constitution."

Advances in technology constantly up the ability of what government can do. Its technological expertise will only become deeper and broader.

"They think they're getting to how you think. The technology is such that with the masses of databases, then privacy will get even weaker."

Mr. Hentoff notes that J. Edgar Hoover didn't have all this technology. "He would be so envious of what NSA can do."

[Aug 12, 2013] Schneier The NSA Is Commandeering the Internet


Nerdfest writes "Bruce Schneier writes in The Atlantic: 'Bluntly: The government has commandeered the Internet. Most of the largest Internet companies provide information to the NSA, betraying their users. Some, as we've learned, fight and lose. Others cooperate, either out of patriotism or because they believe it's easier that way. I have one message to the executives of those companies: fight.'"


so now its the.....


So we were right in the 90s when we thought Facebook was a CIA front?

Trash cans tracking MACs.....FBI turning on my mic......1984 is only going to be 30 odd years late......

Re:Al Gore wants the Internet back (Score:4, Interesting)

JestersGrind (2549938) writes: on Monday August 12, 2013 @04:29PM (#44545689) Actually, he is. He believes that what they are doing is unconstitutional. []


Re:Al Gore wants the Internet back (Score:4, Informative)

Introduced a number of bills that provided funding to the development of the Internet. And as said by Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn:

as far back as the 1970s, Congressman Gore promoted the idea of high speed telecommunications as an engine for both economic growth and the improvement of our educational system. He was the first elected official to grasp the potential of computer communications to have a broader impact than just improving the conduct of science and scholarship [...] the Internet, as we know it today, was not deployed until 1983. When the Internet was still in the early stages of its deployment, Congressman Gore provided intellectual leadership by helping create the vision of the potential benefits of high speed computing and communication.

The very pioneers of the Internet have acknowledged his contributions despite all the maligment he gets from the neckbeard crowd.

Anonymous Coward

It's much worse than that. (Score:5, Interesting)

Drop this idea of the "government" as some evil alien entity with unknown motives. The issue here is that the NSA is being a bunch of assbags to internet companies.. At the behest of other companies. In this case, security services contractors. Why does everyone forget the warnings about the Military Industrial Complex? This is the Security Industrial Complex and we're throwing away our freedoms so some slimy fucks can make a buck. There is a reason most of our "generals" are desk jockeys whose' primary job is shuffling papers and securing funding.

Some say never attribute to malice what could be explained by incompetence. I say never attribute to incompetence what can be explained by greed.


Re:It's much worse than that. (Score:3)

Drop this idea of the "government" as some evil alien entity with unknown motives. The issue here is that the NSA is being a bunch of assbags to internet companies.. At the behest of other companies. In this case, security services contractors. Why does everyone forget the warnings about the Military Industrial Complex? This is the Security Industrial Complex and we're throwing away our freedoms so some slimy fucks can make a buck. There is a reason most of our "generals" are desk jockeys whose' primary job is shuffling papers and securing funding.

Some say never attribute to malice what could be explained by incompetence. I say never attribute to incompetence what can be explained by greed.

The point is there is still no way to defend yourself against a pissed off or curious NSA. if the NSA is pissed off you're done. If they are curious they'll learn everything about everything, including all about your life, your friends and family. There is nothing you can do to defend yourself against an agency that knows everything you do. What are you supposed to do? Tell them no and hope they play nice?

As a result everyone cooperates with any government agency. If you're in China or Russia you're not going to fight the FSB or the Chinese communist party. If you're in the USA you're not going to fight the NSA. But at least in the USA you have some rights and the NSA cannot legally spy on you, if you're in a foreign country then the NSA can legally spy on you and not only can you not fight the NSA but the NSA can use everything you ever did to convince you to cooperate.

So how exactly is it realistic for anyone not to cooperate with agencies that have so much power? You can cooperate or be destroyed trying to fight. The destruction of your business, but possibly of your personal life as well, most people aren't going to risk it.


Re:It's much worse than that. (Score:2)

Drop this idea of the "government" as some evil alien entity with unknown motives.

I don't think people blame Government, I believe they blame Politicians. To deny that politicians are having a huge hand in how things are playing out is lunacy. Look at the long list of Senators and Congressmen in both parties that want Snowden dead for leaking details of spying.

Why does everyone forget the warnings about the Military Industrial Complex?

Remember JFK's words regarding the MIC? The people he was warning us about have been running the USA since he was assassinated. As with above, you can't deny the Politician's involvement in the MIC or Government agencies working to subvert our Government. The NSA is funded, directed, managed, and utilized by the Politicians in power.

Some say never attribute to malice what could be explained by incompetence. I say never attribute to incompetence what can be explained by greed.

Excusing the politicians with fallacy is not helpful. The building is on fire and we must put the fire out. Arson investigators can't search a burning house!


They have defiled the Internet (Score:2)

Basically if you are offering any products or services over the Internet now you are baiting your customers into being spied upon. Every email you send is inviting the recipient to reply and be spied upon. Its not just about what you do. Its about what others on the net do in response.

Every action you take condoning the use of this medium is tricking other people to use it too.

They haven't just usurped the Internet. They have contaminated it. They have defiled it.


Re:No WE must Fight (Score:4, Insightful)

>> Go to public meeting when the ELECTED Congressmen/women who write these laws.

Question then send a clear message change it or be removed from office.

Recently, the Tea Party folks tried this and the Occupy folks tried this. Result?

Universal derision from major media, and specific derision from the opposite party's political leaders. Almost no changes to the insulated agencies or policies that ticked off ordinary people in the first place.


Classic dragnetting problem (Score:5, Insightful)

When you're focused on sucking in everything, you're not focusing on analyzing anything. Somehow, we didn't have the resources available to keep the Boston bombers under surveillance, but we have the resources to keep 300+ million innocent citizens under watch.


Re:Classic dragnetting problem (Score:5, Interesting)

Yes, but if they have a target they can analyze the data with respect to that target. If you get on their radar they can pull up & analyze everything they have on you. And it's cheap to store massive amounts of data. What it comes down to is the government will have supreme power over anybody they don't like... which is not a good thing.


Re:Classic dragnetting problem (Score:2)

Yes, but if they have a target they can analyze the data with respect to that target. If you get on their radar they can pull up & analyze everything they have on you. And it's cheap to store massive amounts of data. What it comes down to is the government will have supreme power over anybody they don't like... which is not a good thing.

They should just analyze every bit of information they receive. I don't have a problem with the NSA collecting information about me. My problem is what they could be intending to do with it. They are saving our lives forever in the databases and storing it forever, and often there are leaks like with Snowden. So if Snowden can leak all this, what happens to all the stuff the NSA has on us over the years? Could someday someone at the NSA decide to go rogue and leak it all?


So its come to this...... (Score:3, Informative)

We might as well just throw in the towel and go back to using kite string with styrofoam cups to communicate (kidding). Seriously though, all the "fighting" in the world doesn't stand a chance against the almighty dollar. Anyone who fights can either be forced to cooperate or else probably be bought-off. Since clearly after all that CISPA protesting the govt just went ahead and did it anyway, that pretty much says loud and clear weather or not they have any interest in what the public has to say in the matter. So the only solution I can think of is that we gotta find an alternative; something decentralized that can't be easily bottlenecked and used as a point-of-origin to intercept and track what is supposed to be private. Global wireless mesh networking is the only alternative I can think of, but for as many times as I've brought it up, someone always shoots the idea down and insists its not possible (just like going to the moon used to be "not possible", right?).


One in 20 million (Score:5, Insightful)

Those are your chances of being a victim []. 230 deaths a year is the justification for all the tax dollars, trampled rights and illegal activity.


Re:One in 20 million (Score:4, Insightful)

This right here. Rights are being trampled, billions of dollars are being spent by TSA, NSA, and other 3 letter organizations to protect the average American from something (terrorist attack) that is less likely to kill you than spider bites or shark attacks and FAR less likely to kill you than driving a car or standing on a ladder. Even if you agree with the mission, surely it's obvious the money is being misspent. (Or, more likely, being funnelled off to make a select few very rich.) It's clear we need to bring this all out into the light and stop spending billions behind the scenes on a 'hush hush, you don't have the clearance to know' way.


Re:Bruce Schneier (Score:4, Interesting)

While historically true, just like pieces of land over the centuries the internet has changed hands several times. Who originally built it is a footnote but not of all that much importance at this point, esp since after the alphabet soup it went through decades of primarily being shaped by academics and researchers, then decades of being shaped by private enterprise. Even if they had a historical claim to the 'internet' it could be argued they lost it a long time ago and what exists today is only abstractly connected to 'their' internet.


Re:The Atlantic (Score:5, Insightful)

by (679165) on Monday August 12, 2013 @04:22PM (#44545617)

More seriously, Bruce is relatively respected, certainly more than any 3 letter agency at the moment. And moreover, having actually read the article, he's right. That's exactly what's happening. No foreign or multinational will use US based servers and services from here on out, or very very few naive ones will. People in the US are looking to use non US servers. That alone is a telling statement.


Do you think that will make any difference? (Score:5, Interesting)

So they wont use US based servers and services? So where are they going to go? Any country they go to will have a government with a 3 letter agency spying on the servers and services and passing it to the NSA.

Not only that but the NSA could use other means to spy on multinationals and turn them into NSA friendly multinationals.


Re:Do you think that will make any difference? (Score:4, Insightful)

As far as we actually know, the US is now behind the curve in protecting it's citizens from same-government spying. Well, maybe in the middle of the pack compared to European countries, but still not good. Of course, it may well be that those other countries just haven't had their scandals yet, but based on the evidence available it almost makes some sense.

But ultimately it fails - the NSA is supposed to be blocked from spying on US citizens, but is chartered to spy on the citizens of other nations. Moving data to where it's not commingled with US citizen data should mean more NSA spying, not less. Unless of course you believe the NSA is so obsessed with spying internally it's forgotten about its actual charter - which I can no longer dismiss as tinfoil hattery.

0111 1110

Re:"Fight" - Yeah, Right (Score:2)

by (518466) on Monday August 12, 2013 @06:19PM (#44546765)

Three, I thought we hated the big bad corporations. Now we want them to fight our battles with the government we generally side with against them?

Are you actually trying to argue that our government is an enemy of corporate power? Half the time politicians end up with a cushy overpaid job with one of them when they leave public office. They aren't enemies. The corporations couldn't even exist in their current form without the government to protect them from liability, from individual responsibility. Corporations and the government are the best of friends.

[Aug 11, 2013] Obama On NSA Spying: "I Would Be Concerned Too, If I Weren't Inside The Government"

Submitted by Tyler Durden on 08/10/2013 - 19:26

In what is as close to saying 'trust us, we're from the government,' as it gets; President Obama's traitor-identifying, blame-pointing, cover-your-assing speech on Friday has done nothing to end the supposedly "critical NSA counter-terrorism tool," from being used on American citizens. People of America should be relieved, as the President stated unequivocally that he is "comfortable that the program is not being abused." If only American citizens were able to see all the moving pieces, Obama implied, they would say "you know what? These [government] folks are following the law," but because the program remains classified, it remains impossible to know what is really going on.

Reassuring rhetoric aside, as the AP notes, Obama offered these inspiring words regarding the ongoing concerns that law-abiding citizens may still have beyond his assurances: "I would be worried too, if I weren't inside the government." Another teleprompter-less glimpse of what he really thinks?

Perhaps; but for now, the NSA will continue to sweep phone records of all Americans with the possibility of creating similar databases of credit card transactions, hotel records, and Internet searches.

Mozilla Launches Persona Identity Bridge For Gmail

Posted by samzenpus on Thursday August 08, 2013 @07:12PM
from the being-yourself dept.

An anonymous reader writes "Mozilla today announced the Persona Identity Bridge for Gmail users. If you have a Google account, this means you can now sign into Persona-powered websites with your existing credentials. The best part is of course Mozilla's pledge to its users.

'Persona remains committed to privacy: Gmail users can sign into sites with Persona, but Google can't track which sites they sign into,' Mozilla Pesrona engineer Dan Callahan promises."

[Aug 08, 2013] Do we have an instinct for privacy by Ian Leslie

"...many Facebook users are standing in their bedroom naked without realising there's a crowd outside the window."

August 7, 2013 | Aeon

Too much information. Our instincts for privacy evolved in tribal societies where walls didn't exist. No wonder we are hopeless oversharers

... ... ...

More recently, Edward Snowden's revelations about the panoptic scope of government surveillance have raised the hoary spectre of 'Big Brother'. But what Prism's fancy PowerPoint decks and self-aggrandising logo suggest to me is not so much an implacable, omniscient overseer as a bunch of suits in shabby cubicles trying to persuade each other they're still relevant. After all, there's little need for state surveillance when we're doing such a good job of spying on ourselves. Big Brother isn't watching us; he's taking selfies and posting them on Instagram like everyone else. And he probably hasn't given a second thought to what might happen to that picture of him posing with a joint.

Walls are a relatively recent innovation. Members of pre-modern societies happily coexisted while carrying out almost all of their lives in public view

Stone's story is hardly unique. Earlier this year, an Aeroflot air hostess was fired from her job after a picture she had taken of herself giving the finger to a cabin full of passengers circulated on Twitter. She had originally posted it to her profile on a Russian social networking site without, presumably, envisaging it becoming a global news story. Every day, embarrassments are endured, jobs lost and individuals endangered because of unforeseen consequences triggered by a tweet or a status update. Despite the many anxious articles about the latest change to Facebook's privacy settings, we just don't seem to be able to get our heads around the idea that when we post our private life, we publish it.

At the beginning of this year, Facebook launched the drably named 'Graph Search', a search engine that allows you to crawl through the data in everyone else's profiles. Days after it went live, a tech-savvy Londoner called Tom Scott started a blog in which he posted details of searches that he had performed using the new service. By putting together imaginative combinations of 'likes' and profile settings he managed to turn up 'Married people who like prostitutes', 'Single women nearby who like to get drunk', and 'Islamic men who are interested in other men and live in Tehran' (where homosexuality is illegal).

Scott was careful to erase names from the screenshots he posted online: he didn't want to land anyone in trouble with employers, or predatory sociopaths, or agents of repressive regimes, or all three at once. But his findings served as a reminder that many Facebook users are standing in their bedroom naked without realising there's a crowd outside the window. Facebook says that as long as users are given the full range of privacy options, they can be relied on to figure them out. Privacy campaigners want Facebook and others to be clearer and more upfront with users about who can view their personal data. Both agree that users deserve to be given control over their choices.

... ... ...

We might be particularly prone to disclosing private information to a well-designed digital interface, making an unconscious and often unwise association between ease-of-use and safety. For example, a now-defunct website called solicited anonymous confessions. The original format of the site was a masterpiece of bad font design: it used light grey text on a dark grey background, making it very hard to read. Then, in 2008, the site had a revamp, and a new, easier-to-read black font against a white background was adopted. The cognitive scientists Adam Alter and Danny Oppenheimer gathered a random sample of 500 confessions from either side of the change. They found that the confessions submitted after the redesign were generally far more revealing than those submitted before: instead of minor peccadilloes, people admitted to major crimes. (Facebook employs some of the best web designers in the world.)

This is not the only way our deeply embedded real-world instincts can backfire online. Take our rather noble instinct for reciprocity: returning a favour. If I reveal personal information to you, you're more likely to reveal something to me. This works reasonably well when you can see my face and make a judgment about how likely I am to betray your confidence, but on Facebook it's harder to tell if I'm trustworthy. Loewenstein found that people were much readier to answer probing questions if they were told that others had already answered them. This kind of rule-of-thumb - when in doubt, do what everyone else is doing - works pretty well when it comes to things such as what foods to avoid, but it's not so reliable on the internet. As James Grimmelmann, director of the intellectual property programme at the University of Maryland, puts it in his article 'Facebook and the Social Dynamics of Privacy' (2008):

'When our friends all jump off the Facebook privacy bridge, we do too.'

Giving people more control over their privacy choices won't solve these deeper problems. Indeed, Loewenstein found evidence for a 'control paradox'. Just as many people mistakenly think that driving is safer than flying because they feel they have more control over it, so giving people more privacy settings to fiddle with makes them worry less about what they actually divulge.

Then again, perhaps none of this matters. Facebook's founder Mark Zuckerberg is not the only tech person to suggest that privacy is an anachronistic social convention about which younger generations care little. And it's certainly true that for most of human existence, most people have got by with very little private space, as I found when I spoke to John L Locke, professor of linguistics at Ohio University and the author of Eavesdropping: An Intimate History (2010). Locke told me that internal walls are a relatively recent innovation. There are many anthropological reports of pre-modern societies whose members happily coexisted while carrying out almost all of their lives in public view.

You might argue, then, that the internet is simply taking us back to something like a state of nature. However, hunter-gatherer societies never had to worry about invisible strangers; not to mention nosy governments, rapacious corporations or HR bosses. And even in the most open cultures, there are usually rituals of withdrawal from the arena. 'People have always sought refuge from the public gaze,' Locke said, citing the work of Paul Fejos, a Hungarian-born anthropologist who, in the 1940s, studied the Yagua people of Northern Peru, who lived in houses of up to 50 people. There were no partitions, but inhabitants could achieve privacy any time they wanted by simply turning away. 'No one in the house,' wrote Fejos, 'will look upon, or observe, one who is in private facing the wall, no matter how urgently he may wish to talk to him.'

The need for privacy remains, but the means to meet it - our privacy instincts - are no longer fit for purpose

... ... ...

Over time, we will probably get smarter about online sharing. But right now, we're pretty stupid about it. Perhaps this is because, at some primal level, we don't really believe in the internet. Humans evolved their instinct for privacy in a world where words and acts disappeared the moment they were spoken or made. Our brains are barely getting used to the idea that our thoughts or actions can be written down or photographed, let alone take on a free-floating, indestructible life of their own. Until we catch up, we'll continue to overshare.

A long-serving New York Times journalist who recently left his post was clearing his desk when he came across an internal memo from 1983 on computer policy. It said that while computers could be used to communicate, they should never be used for indiscreet or potentially embarrassing messages: 'We have typewriters for that.' Thirty years later, and the Kremlin's security agency has concluded that The New York Times IT department was on to something: it recently put in an order for electric typewriters. An agency source told Russia's Izvestiya newspaper that, following the WikiLeaks and Snowden scandals, and the bugging of the Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev at the G20 summit in London, 'it has been decided to expand the practice of creating paper documents'.

Its invention enabled us to capture and store our thoughts and memories but, today, the best thing about paper is that it can be shredded.

[Aug 03, 2013] XKeyscore: NSA tool collects 'nearly everything a user does on the internet'

31 July 2013 | The Guardian


what about HTTPS? Is it secure or not?

MarkLloydBaker -> FerventPixel

HTTPS is pretty secure. It certainly makes things harder for the NSA. We shouldn't get hung up on whether protection mechanisms are perfect. Every little bit helps.

But it's also important to remember that there are potential vulnerabilities all over the place in computer systems, and that spies and thieves spend their time trying to find new places to attack. On a simple level: Using HTTPS in your browser doesn't mean your email is encrypted. Another big one is that the NSA can, according to several reports, enter any Windows machine through its back door to steal data, plant spyware, etc. HTTPS is out of the picture in that case, and the NSA can easily break Microsoft's own encryption because Microsoft told them how. Report Share this comment on Twitter Share this comment on Facebook

timetorememberagain -> FerventPixel

Please take a look:


There's no way the US surveillance state will ever back down. It's impossible now. This means that if you really care about your privacy, you have to learn how to protect it yourself. This takes effort:

  1. Linux - a open source operating system.
  2. Thunderbird + Enigmail with 4096 bit keys (meta data will still be available).
  3. Firefox - trustworthy, unlike IE and Google Chrome and Safari et al.
  4. Jitsi for video chats.
  5. Bitmessage (still in beta, looks promising though - P2P mail).
  6. Pidgin with GnuPG Plugin.

I mention Linux because if you use a proprietary operating system, you leave yourself open to side-attacks, so everything else you do can be compromised.

All these things take effort. It should be very obvious by now Western governments are not going to reverse the total surveillance agenda. If privacy is really that important to you, then you need to make an effort to protect it.

Stephanie White

This is really critical, need-to-know information for all of us. Now that Clapper has said there have been transgressions, I think it only a matter of time before there are adjustments within the NSA (and with the law) to make everything (appear to be) copacetic.

However, I think the problem...the thing that really contributes to the problem's intractability, are the involved interests, i.e. the people who profit from such a system. I don't think we've really seen that, yet. Is there a way to get at that information? I imagine the complexity/intersection of the network of interests is mind-boggling.

Andras Donaszi-Ivanov

How come the international community (e.g. every F-ing country in the world) NOT up rioting about the US reading every single freaking email between foreigners (aka."the rest of the world")? How is this not an issue? It just boggles my mind. Report Share this comment on Twitter Share this comment on Facebook

andrewjs -> Andras Donaszi-Ivanov

Because they're doing it as well.


This is scandalous. Anyone with basic security clearance can tap any computer. This could easily be mis-used by one of many employees -

It's annoying that we CANNOT do anything about it. Other than work on paper and give up technology! It's annoying that because this was not public it was not accountable. I doubt they have many systems in place to check for abuse by staff. They just want to nail terrorists. More safe guards needs to go to the people! We need to be told more about this and the safeguards, and anyone lying about it should not be let off because they were trying to get terrorists. Fair enough going after terrorists, but in my opinion this is a mess they created by evading Iraq and drone attacks in Packistan.

They paid an informant to get info saving Iraq had weapons of mass destruction - when they didn't. The guy simply wanted payment and made something up! And drone attacks in civilian areas killing innocents often, is only helping fuel more terrorists. They are having to all lengths to stop terrorists including spying on all of us and invading our rights to privacy. It's about this a new tactic was started, a re-think of this whole mess they created.


Acknowledging what he called "a number of compliance problems", Clapper attributed them to "human error" or "highly sophisticated technology issues" rather than "bad faith".

Excuses, excuses. Clapper is simply incapable of telling the truth or coming clean, even when he knows everyone else knows that he is lying. Mythomaniac/compulsive liar/pathological liar/congenital liar - take your pick.. It must be force of habit.

( Interesting article : How America's Top Tech Companies Created the Surveillance State )


Interesting to read the 2008 Feb copy of XKeyscore. Now what does the 2013 version do more? All https are belongs to NSA?


So moraly wrong! So ineffective against terrorism (did nothing to spot the Tsarnayevs)! Such a waste of money at a tiime when people need jobs!

And a crime against the environment as server farms around the world now consume as much energy as if they were the 5th largest country in the world!

Anna Apanasewicz

How did Orwell know?

Bluestone -> Anna Apanasewicz

It's all part and parcel of the nature of human beings. Documentation of observed behaviour for thousands of years. This latest flavour is just a variation brought on by a change in social interaction brought about by a technological development.

Technology enables. Then it's a question of what we refrain from.


It all screams of only one thing......A government with civil unrest concerns as the magnitude of America's inequality gap continues to grow rather silently like an unacknowledged/downplayed disease.


The NSA documents assert that by 2008, 300 terrorists had been captured using intelligence from XKeyscore.

1- Let's be seeing the evidence of that then. None you say?

2- That's particularly funny as due to laws such as the Patriot Act - as one can now be labeled 'a terrorist' for simply wearing a jaunty hat or going to knitting group on wednesdays.

Pathetic justification for what is in effect a New Nazi spy machine.

M Zaki

And Americans think they live in a democracy. The USA is a Police State, catering to the corporations and the wealthy. And just because you get to choose between two dictators (chosen by and from the wealthy) every four years, doesn't mean you have a democracy.


"Mike Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee, said of Snowden's assertion: "He's lying. It's impossible for him to do what he was saying he could do.""

Looks like it is Mike Rogers, the republican chairman of the house intelligence committee, who is doing the lying. Oh, and by the way, "His wife, Kristi Clemens Rogers, was previously President and CEO of Aegis LLC, a contractor to the United States Department of State for intelligence-based and physical security services." "Aegis LLC is a U.S. company and a member of the worldwide Aegis Group which is based in London with overseas offices in Afghanistan, Iraq and Bahrain. "

It is Snowden who will go down in history as the real hero here.

usawatching -> nationalbar

"It is Snowden who will go down in history as the real hero here."....I fear you are correct and that Snowden did us a favor and will be pilloried for it.

I understand the need to protect us from terrorists, but not if our own government becomes one of the terrorists. this is very much like the IRS scandal, showing government gone crazy with its own power and size.


Release List of Keywords Used to Monitor Social Networking Sites

Maybe we should ALL put these on the end of every email.... that would keep-em busy


Witness in Senate J hearings: "The devil is in the details." Baloney. The devil is in collect all with no oversight.


"I, sitting at my desk," said Snowden, could "wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge or even the president, if I had a personal email".

While I am not sure what the significance of this is, this is very, very similar to at least one of capabilities that a fictional NSA whistleblower revealed in Episode 8 of LAST YEAR'S first series of Aaron Sorkin's The Newsroom. That fictional three minute exchange referenced other capabilities of Prism and Boundless Informant using the fictional program name of Global Clarity (a name rather eerily similar in its Orwellian double speak to the names of the actual programs themselves).

Here's the video link:

wordsdontmatter -> Ousamequin

what about that silly show 'person of interest' where it pretty much says 'you are being watched''..etc and tries to make a framing spin that even though 'i' created this they were only using it to stop terrorist but did not care to stop 'crime'.. so the author of the system and his 'muscle' for hire work together and tap into the system through backdoors..

the show got boring after a few times as it is the same thing each time. I imagine this could just have been a way of softening or justifying this in the back of peoples' minds. It is a good thing. Hell, the military has a hollywood branch and they push for control of scripts, give free hardware or assistance for movies that push their agenda.

I still think there are way too many police and lawyer type shows since returning to the states 2008. I left in 2000 and came back and it seems like there are 5 to 10 types of these security shows on all day (csi, law and order, etc...) Csi even has different cities, haha! I am sure this is just another security meme to mass convince that these are servants of justice not the reality of what it really is and what you see each day.


I want my privacy back!!

So I canceled facebook - never use Google anymore - never Twitter - hardly e-mail - All what's left - I have to stop posting on the blogs of the Surveillance State -(the Internet!)

But thank you Glenn - at least I know where Mona gets all her information from! (just joking - buddy!) Report Share this comment on Twitter Share this comment on Facebook

hh999922 -> fnchips

do you still use the internet at all?

if so, they're monitoring you every time you type an address in.


As an avid Internet user since the mid 90s, I am beginning to fear the future. Will we all need to use VPN, personalised HPPS or full encryption to maintain some semblance of privacy? Or do we need to use the following statement on the top of our browsers -

"Abandon all hope, ye who enter here."

Maybe Dante had some serious vision.


Sorry if I'm being slow, but where are they sucking up this data from? Are they tapping into undersea cables, or is it just things which pass through the USA and close allies? I'm guessing it's absolutely everything they can possibly get their hands on.

Davey01 -> zangdook

Look at PRISM and Boundless Informant documents and slides. If you have your own email server they would not be able to read those emails. If you have your own web server they will not be able to log in as described above. Hence they push your reliance on cloud and 3rd party services.

boilingriver -> zangdook

look at glens article ...How nsa is still harvesting your online data.( On December 31, 2012, an SSO official wrote that ShellTrumpet had just "processed its One Trillionth metadata record)

wordsdontmatter -> Davey01

actually i felt it revealed the dumb down nature of their audience or the training lap dogs in the info session. I mean these people actually doing this things, as well, as those doing drone strikes or torturing people are the ones actually doing these things. They do not want critical thinkers, or someone who has even been in jail or has bad credit or has a streak of resistance to authority because those people are hard to mentally dominate and control. I am sure this is why they put so many people in jail as they are threats to this time of social dominance.


A top secret National Security Agency program allows analysts to search with no prior authorization through vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals, according to documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Google Search will also do the job. Report Share this comment on Twitter Share this comment on Facebook

Davey01 MrSammler

Google stores all your search history.

Michael Westgate

Maybe I'll buy a typewriter also. Back to good old snail mail....

I'm just thankful they cannot see me!

evenharpier -> evenharpier

Spencer Ackerman ‏@attackerman 4m Deputy Attorney General Cole referred to needing "all" Americans phone data for investigations which IIRC think is 1st explicit reference. Retweeted by Julian Sanchez


So according to this document, people overseas can never discuss Osama bin Laden (the most famous terrorist in history) because to even do so may draw the attention of the NSA. Normal people bring up Osama bin Laden all the time -- my dad makes jokes about him.

Just crazy they think they can victimize everyone in the world with this technology and pry into everyone's private conversations as they continually compile larger and larger Kill Lists rather than addressing the root problem of terrorism -- which is people hate us because of our foreign policy. Change our foreign policy, stop being an empire projecting power all over the world, murdering people as we please with no repercussions, and maybe the victims of US aggression will change their feelings about America.


Yet over 1 million people here illegally in the USA have been conveniently "lost" by Homeland Security. They can't find them they claim. Guess the time that was supposed to be spent tracking these illegals was spent by snooping on innocent Americans. How illegal is that?!


Excellent. Thank you, Glenn and thank you Edward Snowden.

The curtain is pulled back.

Wendell Berry wrote: "The more tightly you try to control the center, the more chaos rages at the periphery". Time for the periphery to rage.

And just think, schools are being closed, Americans are going hungry and cold and our tax dollars are paying for this.


Missing in this entire brouhaha is that our privacy is being violated not only by the government (NSA) but by corporations outside of government control.

Snowden was an employee of a corporation, Booz Allen, not the NSA, Booz Allen is 100% owned by the Carlyle Group.

I still wonder if Americans would be on board with the NSA if one asked them the simple question.

"Are you comfortable with the fact that your national secrets are in the hands of a company* that was recently owned by the bin Laden Group?"

*The Carlyle Group

bushwhacked CharlesSedley

It didn't seem to bother Americans that one of George W. Bush's first business ventures was financed by the bin Ladens.

They elected the cretin to the Presidency twice -- once before 9/11, once after.


Your average citizen of any country will probably not have any dangerous data etc. worth searching. The issue is if people are looking at extremist sites whether sexual or terrorist, it is they who should be worried. The media "The Fourth Estate "in western democracies do behave at times like a twin headed monster. Challenging when it suits them but alarming their readership at other times. Spying has existed for centuries, after all Sir Francis Walsingham, Elizabeth 1st spymaster set the template for spies, yet he also secured England's stability.

Espionage, electronically or whatever is a necessity of a stable & secure democracy. Report Share this comment on Twitter Share this comment on Facebook

JimTheFish ID614495

That's naive in the extreme. To put it kindly.

The issue is if people are looking at extremist sites whether sexual or terrorist, it is they who should be worried

Not in the slightest. There are also 'enemies of the state', as well as those who are just plain considered slightly dubious by those in power. 'Wrongdoers' at various times in history have included gays, blacks, homosexuals, Jews, communists. You'd be stupid in the extreme to think that spy networks throughout history haven't also been used as an instrument of subjugation against its own people -- or against considered 'the enemy within'.

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety (Ben Franklin)


From the presentation:

Show me all the VPN startups in Country X, and give me the data so I can decrypt and discover the users

* These events are easily browsable in XKEYSCORE

Holy. Shit.

RicardoFloresMagon -> Rastafori

you didn't really believe in Tor did you? They'd never build a system that they couldn't themselves hack.

You are mistaken.

1. This is not about Tor, this is about VPN providers. Different thing. Think StrongVPN, proXPN, Ipredator, WiTopia, PureVPN, VyprVPN, etc.

2. Tor is open source software. While the Navy had a hand in its development, it is maintained by people like Jake Applebaum and a whole bunch of volunteers, who are on the frontline in the fight against surveillance. Any dodgy stuff the navy would have put in would have been found.

Tor's vulnerability comes from the limited number of exit nodes, and the likelihood that the govt. owns a good portion of them, which would allow them to see decrypted traffic. But Tor's architecture makes it impossible (OK, let's say, really really hard) to trace back where it originally came from.


'A Surveillance Society?' (HC 58-I) Home Affairs Committee's conclusions and recommendations include:

Many Politicians are sensible , the problem is, they're ignored by the executive.


NSA's XKeystore can just as easily p0wn any browser they want. If they haven't built that they can easily.

How the NSA Could Hack (Almost) Any Browser

A little trick called 'packet injection'

The feds can theoretically use your computer against you to mount an almost untraceable attack - by butting in on your electronic conversation.

This technique, known as "packet injection," works because, absent cryptographic protection, a software client can not distinguish an attacker's reply from a legitimate reply. So all an electronic wiretapper needs to do is examine the traffic, determine that it meets some criteria and inject his own response timed to arrive first.

Most famously, the "Great Firewall of China" uses this technique. It simply watches all requests and, when it discovers that a client desires banned content, the Great Firewall injects a reply which the client interprets as ending the connection.

So, speculatively, what could an agency like the National Security Agency, with an avowed interest in offensive tools, an arsenal of exploits, the budget to simply buy exploits from willing sellers and subject to allegations of widespread hacking do with a global network of wiretaps? Why, attack practically any Web browser on the planet, whenever they want.

All the NSA needs to do is provide its analyst with a point-and-click tool and modify their wiretaps appropriately. After identifying the computer of a target, the global wiretaps could simply watch for any Web traffic from that computer. When the victim's browser requests a script from somewhere on the Web, the odds are good it will pass by the wiretaps. When a wiretap sees such a request, it injects a malicious reply, using a zero-day attack to ensure that the victim gets compromised.

If the attack itself only resides in memory, it would hardly leave a trace on the victim's computer, as memory resident attacks disappear when the computer is reset. Normally, this would represent a significant limitation, but with the ability to so easily infect browsers, a hypothetical attacker could easily reinfect their victims.

A sophisticated network monitor might detect injected packets based on race-conditions (after all, the real reply still arrives, it simply arrives late). But since the Internet is messy, such race conditions might not always occur and, even if they do occur, may simply indicate a bug rather than an attack. Even more sophisticated taps could also block the legitimate reply, eliminating this anomaly.

Detecting the attack payload itself is also a very hard problem. There are a couple of companies developing products which attempt to detect zero-day attacks, but overall this represents areas of active research and development.

Finally, even if a victim detects an attack, attributing such an attack to a particular intelligence agency is also difficult. The NSA and its U.K. friends in the GCHQ can build this. And they aren't the only ones: any country with sufficient Internet transit passing through or near their borders might deploy such a system. Germany and France probably have enough network visibility to build something like this on their own soil.

Other countries would need to deploy out-of-country wiretaps, as Russia and particularly China are less used for transit, while Israel's native reach is probably limited to Middle Eastern targets. Of course, any country that wants to attack their own citizens this way can simply buy an off-the-shelf tool for a few million dollars (Google translate).

Again, I know of no evidence that the NSA or any other intelligence agency has built or is using such universal attack tools. But as we are now all bystanders in what appears to be an escalating espionage conflict, we may need to consider the Internet itself hostile to our traffic. Universal encryption of our messages does more than protect us from spies, it protects us from attack.

Finally, the electronic spooks need to understand that difficult to detect and attribute does not mean impossible. With public revelations of both NSA and Chinese hacking on the global radar, as well as commercial malware, private companies and researchers are focusing considerable talent on detecting nation-state hacking.

Nicholas Weaver (@ncweaver) is a researcher at the International Computer Science Institute in Berkeley and a visiting researcher at the University of California, San Diego. His opinions and speculations are his own.

hh999922 -> ChicagoDaveM

this is all vastly too complex.

why would they bother hacking your computer, when they can simply read off all the http and smtp requests you send from it, which go through their servers?

they'd know what you're reading, who you're emailing, etc.. and where you are from your IP address. all the intelligence they'll need.

if they need to read something on your computer, they'd not hack. they'd simply stove your door down at 6am and take it.


If NSA officials continue to claim that they're only storing metadata then, in addition to pointing to Glenn's article, someone needs to publicly ask them:

Then what is Bluffdale for?

Twenty trillion phone call records (metadata) could literally be crammed into a single PC with a big RAID (array of hard disks). Ten such PCs in a rack would occupy 4-6 square ft. of floor space. The million square ft. Bluffdale facility sure as hell ain't for storing metadata!

JCDavis -> MarkLloydBaker

Exactly. The present system in the US and UK once had a 3 day buffer for technical reasons, but with the new storage facilities this can be increased to years, so that with a search warrant (or not), they can search back in time to see everything we ever did online and everything we backed up to the cloud, including revisions and deletions.


Completely unacceptable. Makes me want to begin searching on all manner of subjects I'm not actually all that interested in to gum up the works. That, no doubt would earn me a visit from a pair of nice agents as happened with the guy in Germany who invited Facebook friends to walk the fence line of an NSA facility.


Question for the technically savvy and/or more careful readers of the article:

Doesn't the NSA system require them to hack into (or get permission to use) ISP and/or website/social network server logs? Report Share this comment on Twitter Share this comment on Facebook

BobJanova -> pontpromenade

I think it is intercepting packets in transit so it doesn't need to go digging in logs. It needs permission to place surveillance on major Internet routers but I think it's well established that they do that already. Report Share this comment on Twitter Share this comment on Facebook

toffer9 -> pontpromenade

Additionally, if you mentioned the word 'permission' to the NSA, they would laugh in your face (before having you put in an underground cell).


OK. That's creepy. Metadata to build associations is one thing. Actually data-mining the activities and content of messages is quite another.


If i click recommend on an anti NSA comment, will the NSA log this and the U.S/U.K governments deem me to be a terrorist, potential terrorist, terrorist sympathizer, someone who is a potential threat, politically unreliable or potential troublemaker? Perhaps this whole spying story serves governments because people will be very careful what they say. In effect, silencing dissent.

GM Potts -> itsmerob

Exactly, self-censorship from fear.

I am so afraid that I listen to you, Your sun glassed protectors they do that to you. It's their ways to detain, their ways to disgrace, Their knee in your balls and their fist in your face. Yes and long live the state by whoever it's made, Sir, I didn't see nothing, I was just getting home late.

- L Cohen


The biggest hypocrites on the planet. The American Dream where your every keystroke,email and phone and life in general is being monitored everyday.

The despicable drone meisters who will wage war on the whole world wide web and world.

Just plain evil.

The American Dream they say.


the nsa is collecting MY internet data? what an absolute waste of the US taxpayer's money...


And with this power will come the corruption... We are entering an age when citizens might be targeted for 'thought crimes'; Posting to sites like 'The Guardian' could be interpreted as 'aiding the enemy'. This nebulous grey zone is a scary new world and as the US spirals into further decay one ponders which citizens it will be rounding up first -- and for what. The captains of Americas industry and halls of power have turned their backs on the fundamentals of their constitution and have convinced themselves that the fascist state that now prevails is all about protecting their security. Sad, sad, sad...

Even sadder, the apathy of the average American at the wholesale removal of their fundamental rights. Things will only get worse....


Presumably this software can report the details of everyone who's downloaded a pirated copy of 'Dexter' and invoice or fine them?

So why the need for SOPA, PIPA, COICA, and ACTA? Or were these legislative proposals intended to monetise full-take activities by the partner-states and provide political and legal cover for their secret surveillance of the Internet?

It seems to me that there has been years of elaborate lying and deception going on by politicians and parliaments, including use of taxpayers money and the involvement of businesses and probably banks, whilst Big Brother has been built in the background.


Sorry, but I'm embarrassed how technically illiterate the drawing of conclusions from the evidence is in this article.

I don't want to be surveyed any more than you do. But to fight this sort of intrusion you really have to be careful and precise.

The presentation shown explains some (very unclear) capability or other to do with HTTP. In then says they're interested in HTTP because that's the protocol most typical Web activity uses. It does not say they can search all HTTP activity for any typical user!

Without knowing what the "sessions" are shown in the first slide, the scope of this capability is totally unknown.

This is so overblown. It's really no better than a press release story where the journo laps up all the claims some company makes about their products!

RealEscapist -> FrewdenBisholme

I can clear that up for you very easily.

Back in the late 90's and early 21st, there was a similar program (that is actually probably what we know as PRISM now) which was set up in AT&T labs in Atlanta. It searched for Keywords. Well, people were so offended that there was a mass movement (thank you 4Chan) to spam the internet with use of the keyword in chats and websites so as to render tons of garbage data to that system. The govmt (supposedly) had to shut that system down because it was no longer useful. That's probably how Prism came about.

The way they did it then and do it now is that when you fire off data to a website, a DNS server has to translate your command to an IP address and any other commands that are in that URL are then transferred to the webserver at the target. He who controls the DNS server controls unfettered access to all of your browser activities, and the DNS logs show who connected from where at what time. The relationship is easy to assemble from there.

Atlanta continues to be one of the largest DNS server farms in the USA. And as you know, most DNS servers are in the demesne of the US in general. Add to it that most are owned by AT&T, Verizon, etc....and there you have it.

In the PPT (other than the use of Linux which doesn't surprise me), there are three slides that I find interesting.

Slide 6: "Where is".

This slide boasts of server locations across the world.

Assuming each dot represents a server location (it's unclear whether these are access locations or snarfing points), The UK and (oddly) central America are well covered.

The few in Africa interest me because a few weeks ago I was talking to a friend who is in the data centre chiller business. He had seen a summary request for chiller services for a 5,000 rack data centre build in an African country and did I know who it was for? Of course, I didn't. But I joked that perhaps the NSA was doing extraordinary rendition of data to different jurisdictions with lax legal constraints just like outsourcing torture.

Now I'm not sure it was a joke.

Slide 17: "Show all the VPN startups in Country X"

The slide also boasts that the system can decrypt the data and that no other system "performs this on raw unselected bulk traffic".

We have got used to believing that VPN is the ubiquitous secure way to do business to business transactions and connectivity.

This slide is proof that the NSA is capturing much more commercially damaging data than tracking somebody using an anonymous proxy.

This is very dangerous: one leak of the data and global commerce could be disrupted in a tidal wave of confidentiality breaches.

It also implies that they are sniffing the data at a very low level (I think). To catch a VPN session as it fires up requires capturing the initial, open, connection. To decrypt implies they have a way to capture the require key and cert exchanges.

Security absolutely depends on absolute trust of the layers further down the ISO layer and the hardware. This one slide implies that everyones cable modem could, actually, be a spy in the room.

Slide 24 "Show me all the exploitable machines in country X"

This smells of bot network stuff. This would also imply that cooperation with Microsoft may be on more than Outlook encryption, and around the operating system.

There is precedent for this. One of my mentors in my computer youth (in the early 80's) was a defector from what was then an "iron curtain" country. Before he got out his job was, as a computer scientist, testing hardware from the west. He discovered changed microcode on a mainframe on at least one occasion that did some subtly naughty stuff.

This change can only have been made by the manufacturer with the US governments connivance -- there were very strict export controls on computers at the time and the reason the receiver was suspicious in the first place because this computer was recent model exported with less than usual massive paperwork delay.

And no, it wasn't a bug.

This leads me to ponder how many counterfeit copies of Windows the US government distributes abroad :)

RicardoFloresMagon -> rustyschwinnToo

I agree with your points, especially the last two, about slides 17 and 24.

We kind-a knew already that the NSA would and could exploit, being the biggest buyer on the zero-day market, Stuxnet, etc. and if the Chinese can industrialize their hacking, so certainly can the NSA. The Shodan-like search engine the presentation talks about just makes this real easy, and I reckon they'll have a Metasploit-like tool as well, botnets, as you say, and command & control interfaces that are user-friendly, and likely dont require a lot of technical skills. (Even if the interfaces in the PPT themselves look straight from the 90s)

The VPN bit has shook me to the core.


The tracking that the Guardian chooses to permit (and for the most part pays for) on this page includes:
Linked In
Twitter Badge
Google Adsense
Foresee Results
Real Media
Netratings Site Census
Comscore Beacon
Revenue Science

I do not know who 'DoNotTrackMe' fail to block over and above this. I don't much care.

Davey01 -> JoGrimond

They also use Jquery - API libraries from Google which are easily hosted on individual servers. Webmasters know this. ;)

eNgett -> JoGrimond

I see all these too, but DoNotTrackMe is working for me on this page.

JoGrimond -> eNgett

I was perhaps unclear. DoNotTrackMe says it is blocking all these, and I have no reason to doubt it. However, we cannot know what DoNotTrackMe is allowing without telling us. God help the poor NSA staffer tasked with monitoring CiF - if there is one.

I am white, male, middle aged, and suburban. Perhaps if I were younger, black, and urban I might get hassled by the police on a regular basis. For this, they would need no intelligence tools at all, it would be enough for them to see me on the street.

If that happened, just maybe I would be tempted to ask them why they did not collate information on people who really might be up to no good.


A top secret National Security Agency program allows analysts to search with no prior authorization through vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals, according to documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden. So they could nail all the spammers, phishing scammers and 419 artists in no time if they wanted to, yes?

It's the top story on Fox News:

_"Who's Shopping at NSA Data 'Store'?"_


Maybe the government isn't afraid of terrorists. Maybe they are afraid of the great unwashed finally get fed up with the crumbs from the table.

tkachev -> gc131

revolution? in the USA? not a chance. The great unwashed are - to lift James Howard Kunstler's best line from the past week -

lounging in an air-conditioned trailer engrossed in the televised adventures of Kim Kardashian and her celebrated vagina while feasting on a KFC 10-piece bundle and a 32 oz Mountain Dew.


The scary thing is that this is only the beginning of the Orwellian nightmare. The power of the state to control and manipulate eventually leads to the final words of 1984: He had won the victory over himself. He loved big brother.

tkachev -> Carogat

The scary thing is that this is only the beginning of the Orwellian nightmare.

no, by now we're well into the closing chapters. The vast majority of Americans have long since learnt to love big brother otherwise there'd be trouble in the streets. there isn't. and there won't be. everything is thoroughly sewn up



Pelosi is asked about her "no" vote on the Amash amendment. She makes the argument that she opposes surveillance but this wasn't the appropriate time to vote against it.

"I don't want anybody to misunderstand a vote against the Amash amendment," she says. She's putting together a letter to be signed by representatives who voted both "no" and "yes"

"We voted on both sides of that resolution but we stand together in our concerns about how the megadata collection is conducted," Pelosi says.

Except they don't stand together in the sense of voting together.

BaldieMcEagle -> thedongerneedfood

And if they did vote together, it would be for Pelosi's "against surveillance but not right now," whatever that means.


I am imagining William Hague's head getting shinier and redder as the truth continues to leak out, relentlessly showing us all that GCHQ and NSA have stripped away every last thread of privacy from every last citizen in the UK and still Hague tries to deny it.

I am also very interested in Snowden explaining where the security stuff ends and where the motivation to pursue tax begins. For me, security is merely a side issue here, this is about very much more than national security.


Ho-ho-ho. What a nice surprise :)) Nobody knew about that :)))

What really makes me screwed - I do not see "credit card number" search field :))) I bet it was censored :)), or accessible with Apple-Backspace key :))))


I do not understand the surprise that people are feeling! I understand the disgust. The technology exists so the spooks will use it just because they can. Before email all Telex traffic was routinely scanned.


On the slides (center top) it says:


Does this mean these countries are also using the same system? Report Share this comment on Twitter Share this comment on Facebook

lids jDeepS

These are the countries in the premier league of shared intel. The super secret stuff is probably shared between UK and US. Report Share this comment on Twitter Share this comment on Facebook

lids lids

Forgot to add these were also the countries guilty of intelligence "groupthink" in the run up to GW2 with the associated politicisation of intelligence and false claims of weapons of mass destruction.

Funny that..

pa2013 jDeepS

Someone forgot to list Israel.

Is THIS What Wyden Meant by "Allowing the NSA to Deliberately Search for Records of Particular Americans" by emptywheel

July 31, 2013

A month ago, I noted that after Ron Wyden and Mark Udall criticized Keith Alexander for suggesting the NSA could not deliberately search the records of specific Americans, the NSA Director withdrew the white sheet implying such a claim.

The latest report from Glenn Greenwald, describing how XKeyscore allows analysts - with no court review or other oversight - to review already collected information by indexing on metadata.

The purpose of XKeyscore is to allow analysts to search the metadataas well as the content of emails and other internet activity, such as browser history, even when there is no known email account (a "selector" in NSA parlance) associated with the individual being targeted.

Analysts can also search by name, telephone number, IP address, keywords, the language in which the internet activity was conducted or the type of browser used.

One document notes that this is because "strong selection [search by email address] itself gives us only a very limited capability" because "a large amount of time spent on the web is performing actions that are anonymous."

... ... ...

slide entitled "plug-ins" in a December 2012 document describes the various fields of information that can be searched. It includes "every email address seen in a session by both username and domain", "every phone number seen in a session (eg address book entries or signature block)" and user activity – "the webmail and chat activity to include username, buddylist, machine specific cookies etc".


One document, a top secret 2010 guide describing the training received by NSA analysts for general surveillance under the Fisa Amendments Act of 2008, explains that analysts can begin surveillance on anyone by clicking a few simple pull-down menus designed to provide both legal and targeting justifications. Once options on the pull-down menus are selected, their target is marked for electronic surveillance and the analyst is able to review the content of their communications

Clark Hilldale on July 31, 2013 at 10:42 am said:

From the Greenwald piece:

An NSA tool called DNI Presenter, used to read the content of stored emails, also enables an analyst using XKeyscore to read the content of Facebook chats or private messages.

An analyst can monitor such Facebook chats by entering the Facebook user name and a date range into a simple search screen.

On Facebook, the company that threatens the wrath of god upon anyone violating their TOS.

Also, the program name XKeyscore sounds like it might generate some type of score for everybody along the lines of a credit score which might aim to rank folks in terms of dangerousness, subversiveness, or plain salaciousness.

Clark Hilldale

From p.15 of slideshow:

● How do I find a cell of terrorists that has no connection to known strong-selectors?

● Answer: Look for anomalous events

● E.g. Someone whose language is out of place for the region they are in

● Someone who is using encryption

● Someone searching the web for suspicious stuff

Sounds like a pretty wide driftnet…


For me, after reading that drop-down menu of rationales for why it was "okay" to spy on a person's activity (i.e., we think the person is outside the U.S.), the key quote of Greenwald's article was this one:

"Some searches conducted by NSA analysts are periodically reviewed by their supervisors within the NSA. "It's very rare to be questioned on our searches," Snowden told the Guardian in June, "and even when we are, it's usually along the lines of: 'let's bulk up the justification'.""

Clark Hilldale


Wonder what they consider suspicious?

Probably the universe of things that a typical cleared, authoritarian follower IC employee might find suspicious would be extensive.


@TarheelDem: I'm not sure you understand the scope. The three hop searches are conducted on data they already have. Those searches do not gather much data, they are selecting among the bits and bytes (yottas of them) that have already been collected, saved, and are being added to 24/7.

What I was wondering about was what sources in addition to all voice, email, web traffic, blog entries, financial and public records are being collected?

For example, is your car reporting your location, is it squawking what you say? Is the mic on your phone, land or cell, your tablet, or your computer a bug? Same with cameras on those devices. Are the contents of your hard drive being collected? None of those things are terribly hard to do if you have national technical means at your disposal, or beyond consideration if you have been assigned a mission.

How far has data collection gone? What are the plans for data that is not currently collected, if any? Is it like an overdue book and the librarian is on the way to retrieve it? That would be my guess.

Assign the spooks a mission and they want all the data they can get. Always have, always will.

The issue is that Duhbya turned the NSA from foreign collection to domestic. Hayden rolled over and complied. Alexander moved the decimal point on what they were able to collect. BO has done his best to hide it all, or to put a legal face on what got out. A supine congress has been a willing accessory to shredding the constitution.

We owe Snowden a huge debt. Understanding how profoundly we've been had is essential to calculating the size of that debt.


The AP reports on today's SJC hearing – With 3 'hops,' NSA gets millions of phone records –

"So what has been described as a discrete program, to go after people who would cause us harm, when you look at the reach of this program, it envelopes a substantial number of Americans," said Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate.

John Inglis, the NSA's deputy director, conceded the point but said NSA officials "try to be judicious" about conducting hop analysis.

"And so while, theoretically, 40 times 40 times 40 gets you to a large number, that's not typically what takes place," he said. "We have to compare the theory to the practice."

Such reassurances have done little to quell the sharp criticism from both parties over the once-secret program."

Bill Michtom

@Lefty665: Time for having a Enemy of the State viewing party.

READ Declassified government documents related to NSA collection of telephone metadata records - The Washington Post

Ars Technica

Finally, Sean Gallagher brought us an interesting breakdown of some testimony heard before the House Judiciary Committee this week. In that audience, National Security Agency Deputy Director Chris Inglis said that the NSA's probing of data in search of terrorist activity extended "two to three hops" away from suspected terrorists. Gallagher's article, You may already be a winner in NSA's "three-degrees" surveillance sweepstakes!, explores the practical implications of what it means to be "three hops" from a terrorist.

... ... ...

And chocobochicken provided a decent speculative answer to achbed's concern:

"The flip side is that the NSA has a productivity-based interest in keeping their surveillance scope manageable, or else monitoring a hypothetical 50 percent of the national population might well require the other 50 percent in human resources to sift through all the content. So I imagine there are algorithms developed to maximize the potential relevance of those second and third hops, narrowing the likelihood of false positives more than this article seems to suggest.

But as long as these programs are hidden from public accountability, it's a moot point anyway, because we have no way to tell that these systems aren't being misused or abused."

[Jul 27, 2013] Terms and Conditions: A movie about privacy policies you'll actually want to watch by Cyrus Farivar

July 27 2013 | Ars Technica

An 80 minute documentary makes the case for data access and privacy rights.

Filmmaker Cullen Hoback adeptly uses a combination of cutesy animation, archival footage, and even guerilla journalism to make a movie that's informative, frightening, and compelling to watch. Hyrax Films provided Ars with an advanced copy-it opened in New York earlier this month, and is currently being screened this weekend in Denver. In late July and early August, TACMA will screen in tech hubs San Francisco and San Jose, as well as Phoenix, Portland, Dallas, Richmond (Virginia), Toronto, and San Diego.

"One says that you're totally anonymous, the other says 'when necessary,' you're not."

Within the first 10 minutes of the film, Hoback reminds us of the halcyon days of the late 1990s commercial Web, when startups rose and fell and a real digital privacy policy in America was bubbling beneath the surface. In early 2001, over a dozen privacy bills were introduced in Congress. But after Sept 11, 2001, the narrator (Hoback himself) intones: "all privacy legislation was either killed or abandoned and the PATRIOT Act was, of course, initiated." The film deftly reminds us that this was the initial seed that gave rise to National Security Agency's blanket telephony metadata collection program. (A Congressional vote to shut down that program was defeated by a slim margin just this past week.)

TACMA goes to the Internet Archive to examine Google's own privacy policy from December 2000, which states:

Upon your first visit to Google, Google sends a "cookie" to your computer. A cookie is a file that identifies you as a unique user. Google uses cookies to track user trends and patterns to better understand our user base and to improve the quality of our service. Google may also choose to use cookies to store user preferences. A cookie can tell us, "This is the same computer that visited Google two days ago," but it cannot tell us, "This person is Joe Smith" or even, "This person lives in the United States."

But then, Google made a fundamental change to that policy in December 2001.

Upon your first visit to Google, Google sends a "cookie" to your computer. A cookie is a piece of data that identifies you as a unique user. Google uses cookies to improve the quality of our service and to understand our user base more. Google does this by storing user preferences in cookies and by tracking user trends and patterns of how people search. Google will not disclose its cookies to third parties except as required by a valid legal process such as a search warrant, subpoena, statute, or court order.

Again, the narrator reminds us that this is a very important difference: "One says that you're totally anonymous, the other says 'when necessary,' you're not."

Enlarge / Filmmaker Cullen Hoback (left) interviewed Max Schrems, an Austrian law student and activist, in Vienna.

"It's not actually gone, it's still there."

Hoback then transitions from talking about Google's privacy policies, to how Facebook has forcibly shifted "social norms" for how and what people share online. The film visits Max Schrems, who has been a thorn in Facebook's side, particularly in Europe, for a few years now.

Ars readers may remember that we profiled the young Austrian law student last fall in the article, "How one law student is making Facebook get serious about privacy." More recently, we covered Schrems' efforts to challenge Facebook's datasharing with the National Security Agency, which he argues should be illegal under European law. (Facebook, with its international headquarters in Ireland, has to follow these laws.)

Schrems shows Hoback, in his Vienna apartment, with the 1,222 pages of his own data that he compelled Facebook to share with him in 2011. With a few keystrokes, Schrems demonstrates how easy it is to search his own data in the PDF that Facebook provided, showing anytime the word "sex" shows up in his entire data file.

"If you hit the 'remove' button, it just means that it's been flagged as deleted-you hide it, actually from yourself. But anyone at Facebook or any government agency who wants to look at it later, can still retrieve it and get it back," Schrems says. "It's not actually gone, it's still there."

"Mark Zuckerberg smiled at me."

Another civil rights advocate that the film quotes from liberally-and who's shown up on the pages of Ars just as much-is Chris Soghoian, now a privacy researcher at the American Civil Liberties Union.

Early on in the film, Soghoian reminds us of the proposed Total Information Awareness program, which was publicly killed, but nearly all of which was shifted over to black operations programs to be run by the NSA and other intelligence agencies.

Even Barrett Brown, the self-proclaimed spokesperson for Anonymous, gets a few minutes of screen time-presumably before getting arrested in September 2012. (He currently faces a slew of federal criminal charges.)

The film closes with Hoback staking out Mark Zuckerberg's house in Palo Alto (which he found with some easy Googling). When Zuck does finally emerge, Hoback approaches him, tells him that he's tried to get an interview through the normal PR channels, but hasn't received any response. Zuck sees the camera, and tells Hoback to stop filming-but what he doesn't realize is that Hoback has a hidden camera in his glasses.

Mark loosens up after he thinks we've stopped recording. And you see that? That right there. That's a smile. Mark Zuckerberg smiled at me. And you know why? Because he thought I'd stopped recording. And he was relieved. Imagine what a relief it would be if all of these companies, and the government, stopped recording everything that we do.

"It's like data slavery."

After watching the film, I called Hoback-currently on tour with his film-and asked him how his own behavior had changed after making the film.

"I always imagine that I'm having a conversation with whoever I'm having a conversation with, and the NSA," he told Ars. "It absolutely [changes my behavior.] It changes how I communicate in phone conversation or what I text. it's frustrating that anything that I do can be logged as a time machine-that's a frightening concept. I use Ghostery and Disconnect, and Firefox with cookies turned off, and DuckDuckGo."

As Hoback continues to show the film around North America, he hopes to see more European-style data protection principles implemented in the United States.

"I think the film is about building awareness," he said. "It's about taking people on the same journey that I went through: taking users to understand the implications of what they're using, then you can open up new opportunities for innovation. There's not a big market for encryption-services that put encryption and privacy at the forefront, these things haven't done well. I think there's room for growth in that field."

Finally, Hoback questioned why the United States doesn't have a concept of habeas data enshrined into our law, as is the case in many other countries.

"Why is that data property of the company?" he asked. "Why isn't it the property of the individual? It's like data slavery. You don't have the right to lend it, it's just taken from you. If we don't have access, and then it's a lack of control-it dis-empowers you. Why is data not a right? These services only exist if users continue to use them."

Unfortunately as it stands I think we're trapped on Facebook, on Google, it's hard to get your data off of them. It's impossible. In order to have some sort of say in all of this, the government needs to step in and say that the Fourth Amendment matters online. How do you make that happen? How do you make the Constitution apply in this space? It's not impossible. It's perfectly doable, [companies and the government] just don't want to do it."

"Ultimately I hope that [my film] supports a movement and relationship to what Snowden has done ... We need shifts in the PATRIOT Act, and all of that is a trickle down of one simple premise: that the Constitution applies online-the next step is data access and data control."

Terms and Conditions May Apply is currently being screened across North America over the coming weeks, but Cullen Hoback is encouraging groups and individuals to hold their own screening, as well.

[Jul 27, 2013] PRISM revelations result in lost business for US cloud companies by Sean Gallagher

July 26 2013 | Ars Technica

The revelations about the National Security Agency's (NSA) broad monitoring of traffic and access to the data of cloud providers spurred by the actions of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden may or may not have hurt national security, depending on who you ask. But according to a recent survey by the industry organization Cloud Security Alliance (CSA), the exposure of NSA's PRISM program is having a very real impact on the bottom line of US cloud service providers in the form of lost overseas customers.

Concerns about NSA surveillance are hardly new. The PATRIOT Act's "Enhanced Surveillance" provisions have raised privacy concerns about using US service providers since it was passed. The allowance for warrantless access to traffic to and from "protected computers," the overly broad definition of what exactly a protected computer is, and provisions for access to business records and metadata about customers left many concerned that the FBI and NSA could gain access to their corporate data just by asking cloud providers nicely for it.

Revelations about the NSA's collection of phone call metadata from telecom companies in 2006 offered more evidence for those concerns.

Two years ago, I was interviewing the CIO of a major Canadian healthcare organization for a story on cloud computing, and asked if he had considered using US cloud providers or software-as-a-service. He said that he couldn't even begin to consider those because of concerns because of Canadian patient privacy laws-not just because of differences between US and Canadian laws, but because of the assumption that NSA would gain access to patient records as they crossed the border.

At the time, the concern might have sounded a bit paranoid. But now that those concerns have been validated by the details revealed by Snowden, US cloud providers are losing existing customers from outside the US, according to the CSA study. The survey of members of the organization found that 10 percent of non-US member companies had cancelled contracts with US providers as a result of revelations about PRISM.

The PRISM revelations are also making it harder for US companies to get new business abroad. Of the non-US respondents to the survey, 56 percent are now less likely to consider doing business with a US service provider. And 36 percent of respondents from US companies said that the Snowden "incident" was making it harder for them to do business overseas.

Enlarge / CSA's survey finds damage already done by Snowden's PRISM revelations.

Cloud Security Alliance

Concerns about government access to cloud data weren't limited to the US alone. Information about the NSA's collaboration with foreign intelligence organizations to provide data on their citizens has also spooked cloud customers about their own countries' surveillance programs. Of all those surveyed, 47 percent rated the process by which their governments obtained user information for terrorist and criminal investigations as poor, with little or no transparency.

The survey suggests that giving cloud providers the ability to provide transparency to customers over government access to data could undo some of the damage done by the PRISM revelations. Ninety-one percent of respondents said that companies should be allowed to publish information about their responses to subpoenas and FISA warrants.

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DNI Office Asks Why People Trust Facebook More Than the Government
Daniel_Stuckey writes

General Counsel of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence Robert S. Litt explained that our expectation of privacy isn't legally recognized by the Supreme Court once we've offered it to a third party.

Thus, sifting through third party data doesn't qualify 'on a constitutional level' as invasive to our personal privacy. This he brought to an interesting point about volunteered personal data, and social media habits. Our willingness to give our information to companies and social networking websites is baffling to the ODNI.

'Why is it that people are willing to expose large quantities of information to private parties but don't want the Government to have the same information?,' he asked."

... ... ...

While Snowden's leaks have provoked Jimmy Carter into labeling this government a sham, and void of a functioning democracy, Litt presented how these wide data collection programs are in fact valued by our government, have legal justification, and all the necessary parameters.

Litt, echoing the president and his boss James Clapper, explained thusly:

"We do not use our foreign intelligence collection capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies in order to give American companies a competitive advantage. We do not indiscriminately sweep up and store the contents of the communications of Americans, or of the citizenry of any country. We do not use our intelligence collection for the purpose of repressing the citizens of any country because of their political, religious or other beliefs. We collect metadata-information about communications-more broadly than we collect the actual content of communications, because it is less intrusive than collecting content and in fact can provide us information that helps us more narrowly focus our collection of content on appropriate targets. But it simply is not true that the United States Government is listening to everything said by every citizen of any country."

It's great that the U.S. government behaves better than corporations on privacy-too bad it trusts/subcontracts corporations to deal with that privacy-but it's an uncomfortable thing to even be in a position of having to compare the two. This is the point Litt misses, and it's not a fine one.

[Jul 19, 2013] Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg secretly filmed for 'horror film'


Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg secretly filmed for 'horror film' Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was secretly filmed with spy glasses for Terms and Conditions May Apply, a documentary that investigates internet privacy. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg poses at his office in Palo Alto, Calif Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has been caught on camera by a pair of spy glasses Photo: AP By Alice Vincent, Entertainment writer, online 10:39AM BST 19 Jul 2013 Comments4 Comments The director secretly filmed Mark Zuckerberg for his forthcoming film about internet security and privacy. Filmmaker Cullen Hoback approached the Facebook founder for his documentary Terms and Conditions May Apply.

Hoback told AFP that he questioned Zuckerberg with a video camera outside the entrepreneur's Califonian home. He asked Zuckerberg: "Do you still think privacy is dead? What are your real thoughts on privacy?" Zuckerberg asked Hoback to stop filming, and he promptly switched off his video camera, causing Zuckerberg to relax and invite the filmmaker to contact Facebook's PR team. However, Hoback was wearing spy glasses which continued to film the exchange.

Hoback said his main motivation was to turn the experience on to Zuckerberg: "I just wanted him to say, 'Look, I don't want you to record me,' and I wanted to say, 'Look, I don't want you to record us'".

The scene is part of Terms and Conditions, which refers to the agreements online users accept when using services and apps like Facebook. Hoback questions the amount of data requested and stored by online giants and who is sharing and collecting this information.

He said: "I think the craziest thing about this whole experience is that I didn't realise I was making a horror film". The statistics Hoback has found are worrying: it would take the typical internet user 180 hours to read all the terms and conditions attached to their favourite websites.

[Jul 19, 2013] The Rules of In-Store Surveillance

You can tell when a powerful new technology, like tracking people as they shop, is coming of age. It starts trying to persuade people it is a force for good, and it broadens its reach and capabilities. Take the the observation and data collection techniques used by online retailers that are now moving into the physical world.

Cellphone signals, special apps and our movements tracked by software-enhanced cameras in stores are the equivalent of the tracking cookies in Internet browsers. Most people don't seem to mind being tracked online, if the low percentage of people who disable cookies is any indication. (Studies suggest the number is below 10 percent.) Offline tracking, though, still seems to be a concern. Nordstrom discontinued using one mobile phone tracking system, produced by Euclid Analytics, after shoppers complained. That may be because the systems are new, and some people see more harm than benefit from the surveillance.

Euclid Analytics' tools show how rich the data from tracking people's behaviors can be.Euclid Analytics' tools show how rich the data from tracking people's behaviors can be.

On Tuesday, several companies involved in offline tracking announced that they would be working with a Washington-based research group, the Future of Privacy Forum, to develop a series of "best practices" for privacy controls for what it called "retail location analytics," or tracking.

Euclid was among the sponsors, along with WirelessWerx, Mexia Interactive and ShopperTrak.

The Future of Privacy Forum is primarily supported by corporations, with extensive financing from the technology sector. According to Jules Polonetsky, its director and co-chairman, the organization also has an advisory board that includes "chief privacy officers, privacy academics and privacy advocates."

On Thursday, Euclid also announced it was producing a series of analytics tools for specialty retailers, which it said would help stores make better decisions about things like operating hours and inventory. The product, which is primarily a comparison tool, also shows how rich the data from tracking people online can be.

"We're offering benchmarking, so we can say 'Your customer capture rate is 8 percent, and this week the average for your sector is 10 percent,'" said Will Smith, the chief executive of Euclid. "The question is not whether something is good or bad, but what something means."

Mr. Smith would not provide specifics, but said his company's product was now in hundreds of malls across the United States, and had captured information on thousands of shoppers at dozens of retailers. "We can tell if someone has visited multiple outlets of a store on the same day, which indicates they couldn't find the product they wanted at the first one," he said. "You can assume a lot of others went to a competitor."

Mr. Smith emphasized that the data Euclid supplied to retailers was made anonymous and delivered in aggregated forms, which he said made it unsuited to personally identifying customers. But the data gathered by the company, which Mr. Smith founded with the former head of Google Analytics, can be used to determine things like whether a Starbucks' customer with a loyalty card stays longer at the coffee shop, or how often a store is acquiring repeat shoppers.

Over time, it is likely that at least some customers will accept tracking, particularly if offered incentives like free mall parking in exchange for visiting a specific store. "People became used to Web analytics," Mr. Smith said, "Amazon's customer experience is 10 times better because of the data it gathers on people. Shorter lines and good in-store service can also come from data."

[Jul 15, 2013] NSA stands for "No Strings Attached"

[Jul 15, 2013] Jon Matrix: who is Edward Snowden?

Jon Rappoport's Blog

Okay. Let's look at Snowden's brief history as reported by The Guardian. Are there any holes?

Is the Pope Catholic?

In 2003, at age 19, without a high school diploma, Snowden enlists in the Army. He begins a training program to join the Special Forces. At what point after enlistment can a new soldier start this elite training program?

Snowden breaks both legs in an exercise. He's discharged from the Army. Is that automatic? How about healing and then resuming service?

If he was accepted in the Special Forces training program because he had special computer skills, then why discharge him simply because he broke both legs?

"Sorry, Ed, but with two broken legs we just don't think you can hack into terrorist data anymore. You were good, but not now. Try Walmart. They always have openings."

Circa 2003, Snowden gets a job as a security guard for an NSA facility at the University of Maryland. He specifically wanted to work for NSA? It was just a generic job opening he found out about?

Snowden shifts jobs. Boom. He's now in the CIA, in IT. He has no high school diploma. He's a young computer genius.

In 2007, Snowden is sent to Geneva. He's only 23 years old. The CIA gives him diplomatic cover there. He's put in charge of maintaining computer-network security. Major job. Obviously, he has access to a wide range of classified documents. Sound a little odd? He's just a kid. Maybe he has his GED. Otherwise, he still doesn't have a high school diploma.

... ... ...

In 2009, Snowden leaves the CIA. Why? Presumably because he's disillusioned. It should noted here that Snowden claimed he could do very heavy damage to the entire US intelligence community in 2008, but decided to wait because he thought Obama, just coming into the presidency, might keep his "transparency" promise.

... ... ...

If you buy that without further inquiry, I have condos for sale on the dark side of the moon.

In 2009, Snowden leaves the CIA and goes to work in the private sector. Dell, Booze Allen Hamilton. In this latter job, Snowden is assigned to work at the NSA.

He's an outsider, but, again, he claims to have so much access to so much sensitive NSA data that he can take down the whole US intelligence network in a single day. The. Whole. US. Intelligence. Network.

This is Ed Snowden's sketchy legend. It's all red flags, alarm bells, sirens, flashing lights.

... ... ...

"Let's see. We have a new guy coming to work for us here at NSA today? Oh, whiz kid. Ed Snowden. Outside contractor. Booz Allen. He's not really a full-time employee of the NSA. Twenty-nine years old. No high school diploma. Has a GED. He worked for the CIA and quit. Hmm. Why did he quit? Oh, never mind, who cares? No problem.

"Tell you what. Let's give this kid access to our most sensitive data. Sure. Why not? Everything. That stuff we keep behind 986 walls? Where you have to pledge the life of your first-born against the possibility you'll go rogue? Let Snowden see it all. Sure. What the hell. I'm feeling charitable. He seems like a nice kid."

NSA is the most awesome spying agency ever devised in this world. If you cross the street in Podunk, Anywhere, USA, to buy an ice cream soda, on a Tuesday afternoon in July, they know.

[Jul 14, 2013] Has Snowden Just Misplayed His Cards

July 13, 2013 | naked capitalism


Beware of hindsight bias and after the fact rationalization.

Especially in a case where so many participants, has so strong incentives to keep their actions and machinations hidden from view.

Maybe in 20 years time, enough information will have "leaked" out into the public domain in the form of memoirs, articles and research projects, not least Snowdens own intentions at each point of decision, that will make it possible to analyze and evaluate the sequence of events now playing out before us.

Barbara Brown

July 13, 2013 at 12:48 pm

I do not know what he did wrong. Politicians sporadically have been saying this for 40 years, from Muskie to Kemp. Kemp detested what the spied on said and did. I hate my mind being messed with like this.


July 13, 2013 at 1:13 pm

I stringly suggest paying attention to the substantive reports on the policies of the NSA that are coming from Glenn Greenwald and other Guardian reporters. The focus on and criticism of the decisions of Edward Snowden are not important.

The issue is the nature of American democracy.


July 13, 2013 at 1:15 pm

That should be "strongly" suggest…

Gerard Pierce

July 13, 2013 at 1:15 pm

I think you give Snowden too little credit. His planning may not have been perfect, but he has done a great job of improvising under completely unpredictable circumstances.

Staying in Russia and allowing the situation to remain ambiguous has kept the overall issue alive. Anything else would have turned the whole fiasco into yesterdays news.

The United States has stepped on a critical part of its own anatomy several times and doesn't seem to have learned from the experience.

A number of countries lack the courage to tell the US to take a flying leap, but until Snowden actually arrives at one of the countries that have offered asylum, the issue remains active news.

The longer the issue remains active, the more opportunity there is for the US to make another stupid choice. Little by little the propaganda has failed. We still love the underdog, and more and more people are moviong to Snowden's side.

At some point, Snowden might offer to return to the US with the issue of bail and admissible evidence negotiated in advance. This would leave the US government wondering whether they could find 12 people who would find him guilty.


July 13, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Sorry Yves, I find this a sadly disappointing essay. Chaning the focus from what is important and speculating needlessly and to me unconvincingly. Oh well.


July 13, 2013 at 4:07 pm

Disagree. The continuing political intrigue and diplomatic fallout from the Snowden saga is as important a story as the content of his laptops–I'd argue even more so. I mean, who, really, was surprised to learn–doh!–that the NSA has been sucking up our private information for a decade or more? However I was astonished by what happened to Evo Morales' Air Force One last week. Thanks to Snowden, we have learned quite a bit about the magnitude of the Obama administration's foreign policy arrogance, not to mention the ham-handedness and presumptiveness of the US DOJ (so cock-sure of themselves they can't bother to correctly fill out the extradition forms for Ireland and Hong Kong!).

Most fascinating for me is how Snowden's playing (and not badly, all things considered!) on the shifting contemporary chessboard of global politics and power. On one level, he's an "enemy" of the (sputtering) Nation-State, but he's also a citizen of the post-national corporate world (Booz Allen, ex-pat life, global whistleblowing), and his allies and potential allies include countries but also post-national institutions–Wikileaks, the UN and the international human rights community. Not to mention that the location he most comforably lives and works in isn't a nation-state or a globalized corporate sphere, but the Internet. (If the Digital World issued passports and granted asylum, Snowden would be set.)

Corporations exploit the angles of this landscape for profit, and jack the rules so nobody else can get in the game. Snowden's marvelous subversion is that he's showing an individual, a lone wolf, can play too, maneuvering in the spaces between (beyond?) borders. His options right now, as Yves points out, aren't great. But like Bonnie and Clyde in the Depression, he's still on the lam and the Feds can't get him! It's a small thing, yet it makes me want to cheer.

◦ LucyLulu

July 13, 2013 at 6:17 pm

I think you underestimate the impact of Snowden's NSA revelations. I don't think everyone was aware of the extent of the surveillance state. In fact, I think most were not.

In addition, I think it has brought a global level of awareness to the issue. While friendly governments may be complicit and/or unwilling to take action, based on the comments I've read, the citizens of those countries are outraged (more so than Americans). You have the Kremlin reverting to typewriters since the NSA leaks, thus some of the news was unknown to them. Stories about Russell Tice, former NSA whistleblower (link posted by Bev previously, on and Barrett Brown, journalist currently jailed for posting link to private security contractor leak (link to story below) are getting renewed coverage after being largely ignored in the past.

I think there will be growing backlash from large American IT companies as losses of their international clients to foreign firms over privacy concerns mount.

It remains yet to be seen how much increased transparency, oversight, and reining in the revelations will bring. The level of complicity, acceptance of "war on terror" propaganda by the American people, and rubber-stamping by secret courts, DiFi, Rogers, and friends in DC is disheartening.

However, the Administration/intelligence community at minimum will slow the pace of their ever-growing expansion of its surveillance network, knowing there will be some who will be watching them, credibility of sources will not be dismissed as in the past, and foreign media will print the stories if US media are unwilling (also issue for whistleblowers like Tice who have no physical evidence).

Gentlemen don't read other gentlemen's mail (repost from 2004) - Crooked Timber


Considering that trust is of grave economic importance to Silicon Valley, the US government should not want to reach that point.

You got your tenses wrong. 'The US government should not have wanted to reach that point". The Rubicon has been crossed – one more step in the surprisingly rapid decline of US power and influence.

Josh G.

Dr. Hilarius @ 52:

"It appears, however, that classification now exists to carry out policy without need for debate or approval by us unwashed citizens. Dissent is equated with terrorism. "

A case in point: the deputy director of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation recently told a gathering of citizens that if they complained to the agency about poor water quality and the complaints turned out to be unfounded, "that can be considered under Homeland Security an act of terrorism".

[Jul 11, 2013] What the Government Pays To Snoop On You


transporter_ii writes "So what does it cost the government to snoop on us? Paid for by U.S. tax dollars, and with little scrutiny, surveillance fees charged by phone companies can vary wildly. For example, AT&T, imposes a $325 'activation fee' for each wiretap and $10 a day to maintain it. Smaller carriers Cricket and U.S. Cellular charge only about $250 per wiretap. But snoop on a Verizon customer? That costs the government $775 for the first month and $500 each month after that, according to industry disclosures made last year to Congressman Edward Markey."

AT&T Introduces Privacy+ Tier

It's funny. I wrote this in 2006 and originally posted it to Slashdot. Turns out, it was a fairly prophetic piece. It got posted to Slashnot, google finance picked it up, and listed it as a blog post under AT&T's stock!


AT&T Introduces Privacy+ Tier for Consumers and an NSA Turbo-Speed Tier for the government, at Market-Leading Prices

Wednesday April 26, 6:00 am ET

For $24.95 a month extra, the new Privacy+ Tier offers consumers the ability to feed all data to the NSA at the slowest speeds available. However, for an extra $28.95 per month, per customer, the NSA can override the Privacy+ Tier and spy on Americans at Speeds of up to 6.0 Megabits per Second

SAN ANTONIO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--April 26, 2006--AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T - News) today announced a new, higher-privacy tier for its AT&T Yahoo!® High Speed Internet service that meets consumers' growing outrage for allowing the NSA full availability to its backbone. At the same time, it announced a new NSA Turbo-Speed Tier that, for a fee, allows the government to override the newly introduced Privacy+ Tier.

Beginning Monday, May 1, new residential customers who order AT&T Yahoo! High Speed Internet service online through can purchase the Privacy+ Tier -- offering data to the NSA at speeds sometimes as slow as 56k. (other monthly charges and a 12-month term commitment apply). Effective today, the new Privacy+ Tier is available for $24.99, when it is ordered with a qualifying service bundle. Existing AT&T Yahoo! High Speed Internet customers can upgrade to the Privacy+ service through the company's Web site and take advantage of the current pricing promotion beginning Monday.

"Consumers are craving greater privacy, and now with the AT&T Privacy+ service, they can at least get the satisfaction that the government is going to get their private data at the slowest speeds possible; "Consumers could easily get more privacy from a company that doesn't offer the NSA a fat pipe right onto its backbone, but with the incredible amount of money that the government paid us for that pipe, we just couldn't pass it up. The new Privacy+ Tier, tips the scales back just a little bit in favor of the consumer," said Scott Helbing, chief marketing officer-AT&T Consumer.

Also effective Monday, May 1, the NSA can sign up for the new NSA Turbo-Speed Tier, which for an extra $28.95 per month, per customer, allows the government to override the newly created Privacy+ Tier. "The NSA is craving greater speed to American's private communications, and now with the NSA Turbo-Speed Tier, they can at least get the satisfaction that they can resume domestic spying at the highest speeds possible; "The NSA will be hard-pressed to find this speed at a better price, for a full 12 months, from one of our leading competitors," said Scott Helbing, chief marketing officer-AT&T Consumer.

AT&T Yahoo! High Speed Internet also announced that with the NSA paying an undisclosed, but very large amount of money for access to its backbone data, and with a higher than expected demand from consumers, that it has decided to ask popular web sites, such as Google and eBay to also pay a monthly fee to insure a speedy deliver of all consumer data to these web sites. In that regard, AT&T Yahoo introduced the new Extortion-racket Tier.

Also, in a move that is sure to stun Wall Street, AT&T has announced that they will soon enter the "garbage collection" business.

About the New AT&T

AT&T Inc. is one of the world's largest telecommunications holding companies and is the largest in the United States. Operating globally under the AT&T brand, AT&T companies are recognized as the leading worldwide providers of IP-based communications services to business and as leading U.S. providers of high-speed DSL Internet, local and long distance voice, and directory publishing and advertising services. AT&T Inc. holds a 60 percent ownership interest in Cingular Wireless, which is the No. 1 U.S. wireless services provider with 55.8 million wireless customers. Additional information about AT&T Inc. and AT&T products and services is available at

You will also be charged a monthly FUSF (Federal Universal Service Fund) cost recovery fee to help cover charges from our data transport supplier pursuant to state and federal telecom regulations. This fee is not a tax or government required charge.

Contact:AT&T Inc.
Sarah Baker, 314-982-8659"

Anonymous Coward

So now we know Skypes business model (Score:1)

This must be Skypes business model then. Well do you think Microsoft develops all these backdoors and supplies them for free? No way! The company was never worth $7 billion on it's disclosed revenue, it must have had some other value to Microsoft.

Next big elephant in the room, IS WINDOW BACKDOORED. I mean beyond the NSA certificate, has Microsoft sent down updates that are really NSA spy packages?

How much of Silicon valleys business is a subsidy from the US Gov in the form of a pay-to-spy?


Sweet Jesus (Score:1)

I'll sell my phone records to the NSA any day as long as I get the same fee. That would pay for my cell phone bill with extra to go to my kids college fund.

[Jul 05, 2013] Fahrenheit 451 Reached No, 8 in Bestseller List on Amazon

Richard L. Casper

A shockingly on-target forecast of where we're going/crashing with our dependence on telecommunication, June 26, 2013

I was 11 yrs old when Ray Bradbury's now famous science fiction novel was published in 1953. I could have read it years ago but didn't because it was "science fiction." I'm reading it now because it's suddenly being talked about as an astonishingly prescient description of a world we seem to be actually entering ever more deeply every day. Bradbury's "world" doesn't allow books and people fear face-to-face interaction or any form of true intimacy.

They settle for infotainment provided by the "government" and utterly superficial interaction with the few people who are actually part of their "lives."

In short Bradbury's science fiction is becoming our reality. We text, email, facebook, skype, and "connect" by mobile phone as we rush through life unable or unwilling to devote the time to really focus on anyone or anything.

Mr. Bradbury deserves your immediate attention.

Ammy L. Hill (San Jose, CA United States) - See all my reviews
Metaphor and Reality collide, January 17, 2000

When I began teaching three years ago, I was required to teach this book. Having never read it before, I began reading it just before our winter break. As I soaked up the story of the book, I realized my students were already living it. They begged me daily, "Ms. Hill, why do we have to read this stupid book? Can't we just watch the movie?" As I got deeper and deeper into the book, I grew increasingly depressed about the future of the world.

Then I realized: Bradbury has given me a picture of what might be, if we are not careful. His book written nearly fifty years ago peers just twenty minutes into the future now. Technological developments he had no name for then are very real today. For example, his seashell radio is clearly the walkman many of us see pressed in the ears of teenagers daily. TV screens are growing larger and larger and flat screens with HDTV are on the market now. The next step is clearly the full wall television of Mildred's parlor. Robot dogs like Aibo are just a hop skip and a jump away from the dreaded hound.

But this is a future preventable. Maybe. But if popular culture is constantly valued above thoughtful consideration and education, we'll march right into a land of burning books and intellectualism on the run.

Bradbury's book made me feel defiant. They could never take my books from me. They could burn me with them if they want, but that's what it'll take before I give up my freedom to think for myself.

And as for my students, they remind me every day what an uphill battle I have been sent to fight.

[Jul 04, 2013] Google eats the world By Rebecca Solnit

Asia Times

Finally, journalists have started criticizing in earnest the leviathans of Silicon Valley, notably Google, now the world's third-largest company in market value. The new round of discussion began even before the revelations that the tech giants were routinely sharing our data with the National Security Agency, or maybe merging with it. Simultaneously another set of journalists, apparently unaware that the weather has changed, is still sneering at San Francisco, my hometown, for not lying down and loving Silicon Valley's looming presence.

The criticism of Silicon Valley is long overdue and some of the critiques are both thoughtful and scathing. The New Yorker, for example, has explored how start-ups are undermining the purpose of education at Stanford University, addressed the Valley's messianic delusions and political meddling, and considered Apple's massive tax avoidance.

The New York Times recently published an opinion piece that startled me, especially when I checked the byline. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the fugitive in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, focused on The New Digital Age, a book by top Google executives Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen that to him exemplifies the melding of the technology corporation and the state.

It is, he claimed, a startlingly clear and provocative blueprint for technocratic imperialism, from two of our leading "witch doctors who construct a new idiom for United States global power in the twenty-first century." He added, "This idiom reflects the ever closer union between the State Department and Silicon Valley."

What do the US government and Silicon Valley already have in common? Above all, they want to remain opaque while making the rest of us entirely transparent through the capture of our data. What is arising is simply a new form of government, involving vast entities with the reach and power of government and little accountability to anyone.

Google, the company with the motto "Don't be evil", is rapidly becoming an empire. Not an empire of territory, as was Rome or the Soviet Union, but an empire controlling our access to data and our data itself. Antitrust lawsuits proliferating around the company demonstrate its quest for monopoly control over information in the information age.

Its search engine has become indispensable for most of us, and as Google critic and media professor Siva Vaidhyanathan puts it in his 2012 book The Googlization of Everything,

"We now allow Google to determine what is important, relevant, and true on the Web and in the world. We trust and believe that Google acts in our best interest. But we have surrendered control over the values, methods, and processes that make sense of our information ecosystem."

And that's just the search engine.

About three-quarters of a billion people use Gmail, which conveniently gives Google access to the content of their communications (scanned in such a way that they can target ads at you). Google tried and failed to claim proprietary control of digital versions of every book ever published; librarians and publishers fought back on that one. As the New York Times reported last fall, Paul Aiken, executive director of the Authors Guild, summed the situation up this way: "Google continues to profit from its use of millions of copyright-protected books without regard to authors' rights, and our class-action lawsuit on behalf of US authors continues."

The nonprofit Consumer Watchdog wrote to the attorney general on June 12th urging him "to block Google's just announced $1 billion acquisition of Waze, developers of a mobile mapping application, on antitrust grounds... Google already dominates the online mapping business with Google Maps. The Internet giant was able to muscle its way to dominance by unfairly favoring its own service ahead of such competitors as Mapquest in its online search results. Now with the proposed Waze acquisition, the Internet giant would remove the most viable competitor to Google Maps in the mobile space. Moreover it will allow Google access to even more data about online activity in a way that will increase its dominant position on the Internet."

The company seems to be cornering the online mapping business, seems in fact to be cornering so many things that eventually they may have us cornered.

In Europe, there's an antitrust lawsuit over Google's Android phone apps. In many ways, you can map Google's rise by the litter of antitrust lawsuits it crushed en route. By the way, Google bought Motorola. You know it owns YouTube, right? That makes Google possessor of the second and third most visited Websites on earth. (Facebook is first, and two more of the top six are also in Silicon Valley.)

Imagine that it's 1913 and the post office, the phone company, the public library, printing houses, the US Geological Survey mapping operations, movie houses, and all atlases are largely controlled by a secretive corporation unaccountable to the public. Jump a century and see that in the online world that's more or less where we are. A New York venture capitalist wrote that Google is trying to take over "the entire fucking Internet" and asked the question of the day: "Who will stop Google?"

[Jul 04, 2013] How PRISM Affects Messaging Apps

June 20, 2013

As a consequence of the PRISM scandal many users are worried about the protection of their privacy, and how safely service providers handle their data.

It seems that if you are not a USA citizen, the government and its agencies have less restrictions in regard to what data they can monitor. If you are a citizen of the USA, there seem to be more restrictions on how they can access your data.

Generally it is likely that the agencies get quicker access to companies based in the USA. In other countries legal hurdles will prevent a quick and direct access to a user's data.

While reliable information is hardly available, not only big companies like Facebook, Sykpe, Google, Twitter, AOL, Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo, etc. are affected by PRISM, but probably as well many smaller service providers including the ones offering messaging apps and services.

Thus, most messaging app providers from the USA could well be affected by PRISM. And just to remember, some of them often haven't had a history of being secure.

Overall, from a privacy perspective this can be worrying. It is not that the normal user has something to hide, but that her content and data might be monitored and stored somewhere without her knowledge.

[Jul 04, 2013] Did Obama Just Destroy the U.S. Internet Industry? By David Kirkpatrick

June 11, 2013 |

The Internet is intrinsically a global business and social landscape. Yet up until now American companies have overwhelmingly dominated it. They have done so with astonishing innovation and technical achievement. Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Skype, Yahoo, and YouTube-all companies said to be participating in PRISM-are the world's most important digital platforms for communications and information. The economic and political benefits both to the U.S. and to the world of this domination are obvious. Not only are they by far the world's most valuable set of businesses for investors; they have created extraordinary value for their users by fostering an openness and landscape for free expression and dialogue that is unprecedented.

... ... ...

The largest group of people likely to care about the NSA's intrusions are non-American customers of U.S. Internet companies. Facebook alone has more than one billion of them. Google completely dominates search in most of the world, with its market share across Europe significantly exceeding 90%. And its YouTube distributes citizen videos worldwide. It will be hard now to ever again assure users of these services that their behavior or opinions can be protected from the U.S. government. Some reports on the NSA surveillance suggest that the court orders given these companies can be as broad as forcing them to turn over all traffic to and from a specific country.

... ... ...

While these services have not seemed very American, of course they are. In many countries Facebook is not perceived to be an American service at all, since it operates completely in the local language. Now being American becomes potentially a concrete commercial and political disadvantage. To be an American service is now to be a tool for U.S. surveillance.

... ... ...

Does Obama want Facebook et al. just to be seen as tools of American power? That is certainly not the way the average user in Bolivia sees it. They see it as a tool of their own personal power, and they don't want governments interfering with that.

The global influence and long-term commercial success of U.S. Internet companies may depend on how Obama handles this from now on. Unfortunately, to undo the damage he has caused he may have to completely disavow the program, which seems highly unlikely.

Don't believe there are not alternatives to the U.S. Net collossi. Companies worldwide are already relentlessly working on them. The second largest search service worldwide is China's Baidu, with more than 8% of searches globally at the end of last year, according to ComScore. Russia's Yandex is at close to 3%, more than Microsoft's own search product. In social networking, China's Tencent has had a stunning recent success with its WeChat product, which by some counts has over 450 million users worldwide, including many tens of millions outside China. Most major Chinese Internet companies have global ambitions.

... ... ...

It's easy to see why leaders in Washington presume Chinese networking equipment company Huawei must be spying on us through its products. Apparently in their eyes it makes perfect sense to take advantage of any domestic asset to achieve geopolitical aims. Of course, they think, Huawei and the Chinese government would be doing that. We do. Obama and the NSA now seem determined to give Facebook, Google, and the other American Internet companies the same reputation internationally that Huawei has here. Huawei, incidentally, recently decided to forsake the giant U.S. market because of the condemnations of politicians, despite little evidence of actual espionage. This may foreshadow the experience of American companies elsewhere.

[Jul 04, 2013] Did Obama Just Destroy the Internet?

"The reality is all these great American [Internet] companies are global companies," says Kirkpatrick, author of "The Facebook Effect" and founder and CEO of Techonomy. "They have to be extremely conscious of the way they are perceived globally. They will be perceived more now than before as instruments of U.S. policy and the U.S. government. That is potentially very problematic."

Related: NSA Head Says Spy Programs Thwarted Terror Attacks

More specifically, companies like Facebook (FB) and Google (GOOG) could face "dramatically slower global growth" as a result of their cooperation with the NSA program, Kirkpatrick writes in a recent LinkedIn (LNKD) column.

That may explain why Google, as well as Facebook and Microsoft (MSFT) according to The New York Times, are asking the US. government for permission to disclose information about the size and scope of the national security requests they received from the NSA. Google even made public a letter by its chief legal officer to NSA officials.

Kirkpatrick says he's already hearing about some backlash against U.S.-based cloud computing.

"There's a business concern," says Kirkpatrick. "If businesses are all moving to the cloud, which we would generally argue is the case, then many foreign customers who already are having a lot of reservations about U.S.-based cloud computing will have more reservations."

Related: Is NSA Leaker Edward Snowden a Hero or a Traitor?

NSA Director Army General Keith Alexander defended the agency before a Senate committee on Wednesday, saying the agency's surveillance programs have prevented dozens of terrorist attacks (he did not provide specific examples). Watch the video above to see the debate that erupts between Kirkpatrick and The Daily Ticker's Lauren Lyster and Henry Blodget.


Only an idiot would put anything on the cloud. I have never used the cloud for just this very reason. Assume any thing transmitted electronicly is seen by someone else.


I'm about two clicks from kissing facebook GOODBYE !!~~

22 Nauseating Quotes From Hypocritical Establishment Politicians About The NSA Spying Scandal

Zero Hedge

Right now, the NSA is building a data collection center out in Utah that is so massive that it is hard to describe with words. It is going to cost 40 million dollars a year just to provide the energy needed to run it. According to a 2012 Wired article entitled "The NSA Is Building the Country's Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say)", this data center will contain "the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches" in addition to "parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases" and anything else that the NSA decides to collect...

Under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, the blandly named Utah Data Center is being built for the National Security Agency. A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world's communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks. The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013. Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails-parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital "pocket litter." It is, in some measure, the realization of the "total information awareness" program created during the first term of the Bush administration-an effort that was killed by Congress in 2003 after it caused an outcry over its potential for invading Americans' privacy.

The goal is to know as much about everyone on the planet as possible.

And the NSA does not keep this information to itself. As an article in USA Today recently reported, the NSA shares the data that it collects with other government agencies "as a matter of practice"...

As a matter of practice, the NSA regularly shares its information - known as "product" in intelligence circles - with other intelligence groups.

So when the NSA collects information about you, there is a very good chance that the FBI, the CIA, the Department of Homeland Security and the IRS will have access to it as well.

But the U.S. government is not the only one collecting data on American citizens. Guess who else has been collecting massive amounts of data on the American people?

NSA slides explain the PRISM data-collection program

The tremendous volume of data involved make "direct connection" method the most efficient. In this case you mailbox is already filtered off spam, which is a problem if you intercept the traffic on the router. So it is logical to assume that efforts were concentrated on "black room" capabilities. Still in a way there is no privacy left. As one user noted "This is so crazy, the have all your private pictures and videos... It's like the NSA entering your house for no reason, searching for images and dvd's in your cupboard while you're at work...."
June 6, 2013 | The Washington Post

5amefa91 wrote:

Read these Top Secret/SI/ORCON/NOFORN NSA Briefing slides that the Washington Post put up:

NSA slides explain the PRISM data-collection program - The Washington Post

It shows NSA surveillance practices in their own words:

  • A. Stored Comms (Search)
  • B. IM (chat)
  • C. RTN-EDV (real-time notification of an e-mail event such as a login or sent message)
  • D. RTN-IM (real-time notification of a chat login or logout event)
  • E. E-Mail
  • F. VoIP
  • G. Full (WebForum)
  • H. OSN Messaging (photos, wallposts, activity, etc.)
  • I. OSN Basic Subscriber Info

ReadMoreTrollope wrote:

And now this:

EU demands 'full clarification' over NSA spying on European diplomats, warns of severe impact on relations

EU demands 'full clarification' over NSA spying on European diplomats, warns of severe impact on relations - RT News

French guy

Hello, have you seen and read this article from french media (in english) ? =>

PRISM let's have a look at the big picture Reflets


An earlier WaPo article mentioned that "Intelligence analysts are typically taught to chain through contacts two "hops" out from their target." So let's say that each target has 100 people in their chain (not particularly large if you think of the number of contacts the average person has in their address book, or are friends with on Facebook, etc.). So they would collect from the target, each of the target's 100 associates, and then each of the associates of those 100 people. That would put ...


Long Story Short : The system diagrammed in these latest slides enables pretty much 100% complete electronic communications capture of any target that a systems operator chooses , which (by their protocols) could be anyone .

Because . . . at the risk of using a double negative . . . NOBODY does NOT qualify , if the SysOps feels more than half sure about a thing that is always a little more than half probable ..

For example : posting a comment to an Al Jazeera article written by a journalis...See More


There is no mechanism in place for that, which makes it unaccountable. All we get is a promise that the monarch will not abuse the self-given right to spy on you 24/7, whether what you type or your so-called "metadata" which, often, tells them more about yourself. You'd be surprised if not chagrinned and outraged.


This is quite a good interview with Pulitzer-winning journalist Chris Hedges.

'Americans have no privacy left, no capacity to communicate without govt watching' - RT Op-Edge

"[...] what they have done is divert attention to that kind of a mini-soap opera that is now taking place, as Snowden leaps from Hong Kong to Moscow, to ostensibly Cuba, Ecuador. They knew we saw the same thing happening to Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, to Bradley Manning, who exposed war crimes and is now on trial in military court in Maryland. It's a ver...

Ben Ponwrote:

This is why companies use Blackberry (encrypted messages)! I know, UK's and American secret services hate it!

PS. Terrorism is only an excuse, PRISM is used for economic purposes and interests. Example Boeing versus Airbus "procurement, business deals". Americans cheat, these practices are worse than Chineese espionage and censorship together.


This is incorrect, BBM has a global encryption key accessible by law enforcement

CajunTechie's Mindstream Blackberry isn't as secure as we once believed


The American public is fed with information it only suppose to know. I am really surprised of the lack of news. You neighter will any news on that in the UK. (Not surprisingly.)

"Attacks from America: NSA Spied on European Union Offices"

NSA Spied on European Union Offices - SPIEGEL ONLINE

There are many more. Mostly saying "Meltdown of the rule of law" or "Meltdown of the consititutional state". It goes that far that European politicians suggest to stop all negotations regarding new treaties, freez...See More


Is this what they are doing with phone call records?


$20M a year is very cheap, considering the potential value of the information that can be collected. I have no issue that the US government utilizes all legal tools and means to get a grip what is going on around the world. Businesses do that every day, called Market Intelligence. The most troubling aspect of this leak is that there seems to be no checks and balances in the process. We do not want to create monsters like Hoover, who collected embarrassing personal secrets of politicians and used...See More


If you believe this only cost $20mil a year, I have a bridge to sell you. They were paying one junior analyst 200k per year to sit around and play with it. Time that by dozens of analysts in every city in the world. If there are only 2,000 analysts, that alone is $400 mil. We are probably paying tens of thousands of people to sit around and play with this data.


It reminds me of trash collection. You put it out for collection and once on the curb it is no longer your trash. Same for posting on social networks, e-mails, etc. Once its out there ..........


ECHELON HAS BEEN AROUND FOREVER, AND "Planning Tool for Resource Integration, Synchronization, and Management," IS JUST ANOTHER LEVEL. If you want to see pictures of their operation, just put Echelon in your browser and brose by Image. What is nasty is the British Spy on the Americans, and the Americans Spy on the British, because it is against the Constitution for Americans to spy on Americans.

Chris Rileywrote:

The kid deserves the Medal of Freedom. He did something that not one Senator Congressmen or Justice would do, as we well have been wondering about all along. A Secret Government beyond what we send to Washington to represent us and the Constitution that they are to abide by in representing us. When your Congressmen and Senators have to sign a sheet of paper that says " anything within this environment concerns national safety" If you reliese this information to the General Public, you will be pr...See More


This is hardly the top secret intelligence the government makes it out to be. Every one of those companies has people who know about the program and they are not government intelligence employees or contractors.



A schoolgirl secret... At best!


Technically the CEOs of the big 9 are not lying. The NSA and others do not nor would they want "direct access to the servers" as each one says in the public statements in unison. That makes the work far far too hard for all involved. What they really want to do (and there is some speculation here, but I believe I am correct with this assessment) is simply tap the network communications between the border gateway network device and the same at the first hop into the service ISP. This way all ...


I am shocked, shocked that a government would use technology to keep tabs on its citizenry. Wonder if VISA, Mastercard, and American Excess are also government agencies with those in the PRISM timeline?

Name 777:

If we saw these types of articles in 1980 then we would have thought there were talking about China, East Germany, or the Soviet Union. We would be railing against those countries and screaming that they are suppressing their citizens. But here we are today, talking about this in the United States of America.


Why does the media have the right to publish a presentation clearly marked TOP SECRET//SI//ORCON//NOFORN?


Basically because of the First Ammendment. Publication of the documents is legally allowed in the United States because the publisher did not solicit the documents. The following has a good discussion based on publishing the WikiLeaks dumps.


The US has no "official secrets act". In the UK this would be a crime, because they made it one. In the US, classification of documents is only binding if you've taken an oath.

I don't have citation, but I'd imagine that a US "official secrets act" would violate the 1st amendment.

Carl F.:

One of the most important things that these slides reveal is the volume of data available for NSA interception -- upto to 10 TERA-bits per second -- and how little can actually be done with that, even with the most powerful computers in the world.

The sun would go dark before the NSA could extract meaningful information about EVERY person whose transmissions they're examining.

The NSA has to have some clear idea who/what their targets are, and mine for what additional information they can develop abo...See More


They are not looking at everybody--they HAVE everybody's info and if someone seems interesting to them they can take a look at their data.

Hildy J:

If this is what they will admit to, be assured that what they aren't admitting to is bigger, much bigger. A reasonable assumption is that any communication you make which is digitized has been and will continue to be intercepted and scanned by software or people.

As long as the Patriot Act exists, this will exist.


They are not admitting to anything. These are supposedly secret slides that were leaked to the press. We will see how this thing plays out.


Think about the annoyance with Google. Search for a product then your browser starts showing that product line. Kind of creepy. Now, the US govt can go beyond that. Your research, your interests, medical searches are all stored. You are being profiled. I recall we could not profile people, discriminatory, etc. But that is exactly is what is going on without our knowledge. Oh they say, there are safeguards in the system. Sure, like Holder shopping for a judge to go along with the Rosen i...

asdf song:

This is so crazy, the have all your private pictures and videos...

It's like the NSA entering your house for no reason, searching for images and dvd's in your cupboard while you're at work....


That was my first reaction. Now, upon learning a bit more, I wonder if we're being naive in even thinking that our e-lives were ever truly private. I mean, come on! If you want to keep a secret, whisper it in someone's ear (and hope they can keep it!) 1984 was written in 1948, and happened years ago. Who are we kidding. PLUS MAYBE, just MAYBE, some of this snooping has actually protected us. The takeaway: let's not be naive - let's just try to make sure that the NSA isn't a collection of power-freaks, semi-smart collegiate and idiots.


First, one does have to begrudgingly admire the technology used here. World class thinking, albeit for extra - Constitutional purposes. Why we can't apply this type of effort to our real problems alludes me. But enough of that. PRISM is a manifestation of our government's fear of the American people. As the political elite strives to gain and hold power, surely the lessons of so many "Arab Spring" type of velvet revolutions (and not so velvet revolutions) can't have escaped it's notice. Along with this set of programs, there are on going replacements of our senior military leaders with those who are "politically reliable". This fear may be founded on the very real example of todays actions of the Egyptian Military, who last night issued an ultimatum to the government to stop the in fighting and the working against the will of the people, or they will "provide leadership and a road map" to return Egypt to a Democratic Constitutional form of government. The mistake in this plan is that the administration doesn't understand the history or ethos of the US military. Our younger officers and NCOs run the day to day operations of our military, not the Generals. They would not follow orders that would cause them to stand against large numbers of American citizens, especially on American soil. Interesting time are ahead it would appear.

[Jun 30, 2013] Blackberry isn't as secure as we once believed

CajunTechie's Mindstream

While it's widely believed that Blackberry is the 'most secure mobile platform on earth', it seems that by Research In Motion's own statements, that isn't true.

The relevant portion of this document is:

"The PIN encryption key is a Triple DES 168-bit key that a BlackBerry® device uses to encrypt BlackBerry® Messenger messages that it sends to other devices and to authenticate and decrypt BlackBerry Messenger messages that it receives from other devices. If a BlackBerry device user knows the PIN of another device, the user can send a BlackBerry Messenger message to the device. Before a user can send a BlackBerry Messenger message, the user must invite the recipient to add the user to the recipient's contact list.

"By default, each device uses the same global PIN encryption key, which Research In Motion adds to the device during the manufacturing process. The global PIN encryption key permits every device to authenticate and decrypt every BlackBerry Messenger message that the device receives. Because all devices share the same global PIN encryption key, there is a limit to how effectively BlackBerry Messenger messages are encrypted. BlackBerry Messenger messages are not considered as confidential as email messages that are sent from the BlackBerry® Enterprise Server, which use BlackBerry transport layer encryption. Encryption using the global PIN encryption key is sometimes referred to as "scrambling".

In other words, every single Blackberry device uses the exact same 'secret' PIN to encrypt Blackberry Messenger messages. Whoever has that PIN can easily decrypt anyone's BBM messages. While RIM says that they only provide that PIN when required by law enforcement (like the fiasco in India a few years ago) the fact of the matter is that there is a backdoor in the BBM system and, if there's a backdoor, it can be exploited by anyone who knows how.

Remember when President Obama wanted to keep his Blackberry and RIM said they would have to 'harden' it to make it more secure? One of the things they likely did was change this global PIN to be unique to only his device.

Lastly, it seems email sent over the Blackberry Enterprise Server is much more secure as it is more heavily encrypted. But, as is usually the case, if you didn't encrypt it yourself and you don't control the keys, you can't guarantee anything.

Posted by Anthony Papillion at 1:38 PM

Thomas Roberts Is the genie out of the bottle on Internet privacy

>> one interesting thing to keep track of is how the public feels about all of this. you have folks pointing to fairly recent polls from not that long ago showing that not only do they support what president obama has done in terms of national security , overall that they prefer a tradeoff they feel more secure and they trust the government knows what it is doing in terms of counterterrorism stuff and willing to give up some of their own privacy and civil liberties as a tradeoff. the question is you are hearing outrage from rand paul and some of his counterparts on the level asking similar questions. the question he is whether that is going to is a conversation that will trickle down answer a sense of outrage and the public feels the same way. we are are in a sort now folks raved some questions or essentially accustomed to giving private companies information about where we are every time of the day. i think certainly something to watch in the week ahead.

[Jun 28, 2013] How Much Are the NSA and CIA Front Running Markets

naked capitalism

A 2008 paper by Arindrajit Dube, Ethan Kaplan, and Suresh Naidu (hat tip MS) found evidence that the CIA and/or members of the Executive branch either disclosed or acted on information about top-secret authorizations of coups. Stocks in "highly exposed" firms rose more in the pre-coup authorization phase than they did when the coup was actually launched.

Here's how the dataset was developed:

We selected our sample of coups on the following basis: (1.) a CIA timeline of events or a secondary timeline based upon an original CIA document existed, (2.) the coup contained secret planning events including at least one covert authorization of a coup attempt by a national intelligence agency and/or a head of state, and (3.) the coup authorization was against a government which nationalized property of at least one sufficiently exposed multinational firm with publicly traded shares.

Out of this, the authors found four coup attempts that met their criteria: the ouster of Muhammed Mossadegh in Iran in 1953, two programs in Guatemala in 1952 and 1954 that eventually removed Jacobo Arbenz Guzman; the unsuccessful effort to topple Castro in 1961, and an operation that began in Chile in 1970 and culminated in overthrow of Salvador Allende. Then they chose companies:

We apply 3 criteria to select our sample of companies. First, a company must be publicly traded, so that we can observe a stock price. Secondly, the company must be "well-connected", in terms of being linked to the CIA. Finally, the company should be highly exposed to political changes in the affected country, in the sense that a large fraction of a company's assets are in that country.

They used these criteria to devise two samples (based on different definitions of "highly exposed") and tested both.

Their conclusions:

Covert operations organized and abetted by foreign governments have played a sub- stantial role in the political and economic development of poorer countries around the world. We look at CIA-backed coups against governments which had nationalized a considerable amount of foreign investment. Using an event-study methodology, we find that private information regarding coup authorizations and planning by the U.S. government increased the stock prices of expropriated multinationals that stood to benefit from the regime change. The presence of these abnormal returns suggests that there were leaks from the CIA or others in the executive branch of government to asset traders or that government officials with access to this information themselves traded upon it. Consistent with theories of asset price determination under private information, this information took some time to be fully reflected in the stock price. Moreover, the evidence we find suggests that coup authorization information was only present in large, politically connected companies which were also highly exposed.

We find that coup authorizations, on net, contributed more to stock price rises of highly exposed and well connected companies than the coup events themselves. These price changes reflect sizeable shifts in beliefs about the probability of coup occurrence.

Our results are robust across countries, except Cuba, as well as to a variety of controls for alternate sources of information, including public events and newspaper articles. The anomalous results for Cuba are consistent with the information leaks and inad- equate organization that surrounded that particular coup attempt.

Now sports fans, given the fact that there's reason to believe that people in the intelligence with access to privileged information weren't above leaking it to people who could take advantage of it, why should we expect things to be different now? And given what has already been revealed about the NSA's data gathering, if you were a clever trader and had access to this information, how would you mine it? How would you go about finding patterns or events to exploit?

Selected Comments

Hugo Stiglitz :

I've been hoping this topic would come up here. I've been wondering this for a long time, well before the Snowden "revelations" (if we can call confirmation of what we knew or suspected a revelation). The ability to intercept, store and data mine all electronic communications obviously would have a value – value that is unimaginably high – for anyone looking to manipulate markets and steal from the unsuspecting rubes who depend on them, which is pretty much everyone.

What I find amazing when I've brought this up before is the level of disbelief. As if no one in the national "security" world could possibly be a thief. I cannot comprehend that level of naïveté.

armchair :

How crazy does it sound to say that no one with access to this information would ever give in to the temptation to front run mergers, to sell it to insider traders, etc?

ex-white shoe atty :

a sizeable chunk of big M&A are handled literally by a few handfuls of law firm partners and MS/GS/ML rainmakers.

tap (metadata is all you need) the phone lines/email of these 40 people and their admin. assistants, you'll have the info to make a fortune.

diptherio :

On the "we already knew what Snowden leaked" meme: I don't think this is accurate. Sure, many of us suspected that intel agencies were gathering vast amounts of information, but suspicion isn't proof. Also, there's been a good bit besides just the fact of NSA data-collection that Snowden's released. Cyber attacks on over-seas civilian targets, for instance.

Hugo Stiglitz :

That was not meant in anyway to diminish what Mr. Snowden has done. He has done his nation and the world a great service IMHO, and will pay dearly for his actions unless there is a paradigm shift in how the US operates – not bloody likely. But based on statements by Senators Udall and Wyden, the fact that they were building a massive data storage and data mining facility, and the hardware that was installed at key points in the telecom infrastructure not long after 911, with full cooperation from the corporations that owned, it was pretty easy to deduce what they were doing. That said, having confirmation is invaluable, as well as disclosures of the degree of cooperation given by other (non-telecom) companies was new, though again, in many corners that too was assumed.

Plus there is plenty more to come, and I hope this has the intended effect, though I am not optimistic on that given how easy it is to manipulate opinion in the US (another confounding fact when one considers the mountains of evidence that Americans have been and are lied to all the time by media and a government with a decades long history of abuses of power).

Banger :

The proof for malfeasance in the intel community is astonishingly large–anyone who did not assume NSA is doing what Snowden claims and much more is not aware of the character and history of the American intel community. What NSA is doing is almost trivial in comparison to what it has done in the past and is doing in many other areas and it's not like they've done a great job at keeping it secret other than keeping it out of the mainstream media which acts as a virtual arm of the intel community.

charles sereno :

The link between finance and intel, especially during the founding period during and after WW II, has been well documented.

Susan the other :

And then there were those amazingly prescient traders who dumped all that airline stock just the day before 911. But hey, that could have been for other reasons so that is a conspiracy theory. Yes it is. I'm disappointed these guys only came up with 4 coups that fit their hypothesis. Did the stock market take off when JFK was killed?

Gregg Barak :

Makes a lot of sense. I suspect many folks reading naked capitalism have read David Ignatius's Bloodmoney (2011), if not do so. The price winning Washington Post jouralist who has covered the Middle East and the CIA for many years, spells these "fictional" realities out for all to comprehend the infinite possibilites.

Also read my award winning book–

Theft of a Nation: Wall Street Looting and Federal Regulatory Colluding (2012). Link above.

nonclassical :

..Susan-it was much, much more involved than "dumping stock"-there were "puts" placed on United and American Airlines to FAIL-follow Paul Tioxin's further documentation on Alan "Buzzy" Krongard-and Krongard's history, inside various banks-CIA-Deutche Bank where 911 "puts" were placed, and further involvement with Eric Prince-Blackwater…

Klassy! :

I've always wondered about the shorting and more specifically, why there wasn't too much said. In fact, the dearth of words on the subject led me to believe that it was just a rumour swirling around the events.

Actually, my original thought was that OBL because I just always think war is about profiting and this fit my narrative. I was making facts fit my conclusion.

from Mexico :

For those who buy into Adam Smith's fairy tale about how markets operate independently of political power, the state's instruments of violence (the police and the military), I have a nice piece of oceanfront property in Arizona I'm sure you interest you.

jrs :

There is unlikely to be any systems free of this, short perhaps of various anarchists utopias. I guess all we can ask is the system throw us a few crumbs at least?

from Mexico :

Don't get me wrong. I'm not at all suggesting surrender or defeat. What I'm suggesting is what Reinhold Niebuhr explained in The Irony of American History:

In fairly honest democracies they [the industrial classes] saw the possibility of organizing both economic and political power to match that of the more privileged classes…

The American labor movement…was a pragmatic movement, born of the necessity of setting organized power against organized power in a technical society. Gradually it became conscious of the fact that economic power does try to bend government to its own ends [as opposed to what Adam Smith's fairy tales would have us believe]. It has, therefore, decided to challenge a combination of political and economic power with a like combination of its own…

If we've passed the Rubicon and the "fairly honest democracy" which Niebuhr spoke of no longer exists, then what other option is there besides revolution? As Sydney Smith so eloquently put it:

From what motive but fear, I should like to know, have all the improvements in our constitution proceeded? If I say, Give this people what they ask because it is just, do you think I should get ten people to listen to me? The only way to make the mass of humanity see the beauty of justice is by showing them in pretty plain terms the consequences of injustice.

sd :

Dianne Feinstein is married to Richard Blum. Just saying.

Stella Doem :

Wasn't the housing bubble designed by the CIA?

Banger :

Sounds like a joke but it may have some truth in it. The CIA's origins are from the intel services of banks and has kept its connections with Wall Street since then as would make sense since the CIA is part of the power structure. For some in the RE and financial community the bubble was planned.

Hugo Stiglitz :

People laughed at the tinfoil hat theory about selling cocaine to fund the Contras too. There are plenty of sociopaths in the intelligence world.

Hugo Stiglitz :

not to mention arms to Iran, that was rather cute

Systemic Disorder :

The financial bubble was not "planned" - to suppose so is to assume that capitalism is a stable system built around rational planning, and we've had more than enough crashes to tell us otherwise.

Insiders can certainly take advantage of the ups and downs, and do so, but that is not the same as planning all of it ahead of time. Capitalism is far too unstable for anybody to "plan" a boom or a bust ahead of time. Rather, these are the natural cycles of an unstable system.

But it does make sense for the CIA to be acting on inside information. After all, the reigning neoliberal mantra is that government should be run like a business…

Banger :

Well I know for certain that "some" market insiders knew they were in a bubble and did plan on feeding that bubble until it burst–hoping to get out of it what the could–by "planning" I don't mean a bunch of them sat down and said let's crash the market in 08 what they did plan was how to feed the bubble and when not to feed it and the timing thereof. Conspiracy is now a much more interesting art than it once was–it is accomplished often through signals not words or written documents. The insiders knew the market would crash and there are stories around that some knew it was close and pushed the market out a window just in time (for them) which may or may not be true.

The stakes on WS are way, way, way too high for things to be left entirely to chance–everyone wants to manipulate the market, particularly then when regulators did not care at all.

jake chase :

I always found it amusing that a large number of people believed in the 'honesty' of the financial markets. Of course they are manipulated, and gamed, but stocks, for example, have to go either up or down, so anyone choosing to play even without inside information still has a chance to get things right, and one of the best reasons to watch chart patterns and volume is to get a sense of what those having inside information may be doing.

Meanwhile, those doing conventional research and worrying about earnings would probably get more out of tracking baseball scores.

Carla :

My god, a lot of ordinary people in Cleveland, OH, knew it was a real estate bubble. House prices here went up from super-low to double or triple super-low. This "nobody knew" talk never fails to amaze regular people with common sense.

They didn't leave me a choice :

>implying capitalism is a force of nature
> implying booms and busts are not meticulously designed, built and then performed by banksters
There is absolutely nothing "natural" about booms and busts, it's all built into the system, and can easily be controlled from the top. Need a boom? Give easy credit. Need a bust? Withdraw said easy credit.

Great depressions (like the one we have now) are what happens when the boom-bust mechanism can no longer perform like it did. When private debt grows too big to sustain.

In any case, claiming these are just "natural cycles" or somesuch implies that it's out of human control. Out of control of individuals perhaps, but not the banking cabal.

bdy :

It seemed timed for the election. Remember the crash was predicated by that crazy surge in oil prices in the summer of '08. Commodities were through the roof and all the back and forth was "peak oil!" no, "speculators!"

A guy on NPR (just as NPR was going right wing) said that a gallon of gas in my tank had exchanged hands fifty-something times before I bought it, and that over half of oil transactions were made on the International Commodities Exchange – a dark market where a handful big, big players play.

Overleveraged folks miss a couple house payments so they can keep driving to work. Boom, Paulson is threatening martial law to senators (who hear from the same suits that put them in the "pornographic return" portfolios that Hank knows his shit). They cut him a check for $700B when that still seemed like a lot of money, and a structure for funnelling umpteen trillion into god knows where hits the Bushies in the ass on their way out the door. CT rules.

Stella Doem :

Then there's Tom Donilon, whose work at Fanny Mayhem helped make people homeless and broke while making a smaller number of other people enourmously wealthy, he's the Nat'l Security Advisor.

Tokai Tuna :

Brookings supports imperial war, by virtue of aggression. It was no surprise to see this NGOs role in housing, as much as in state security affairs. DeMarco's mouse like twitching before the purveyors of real estate violence says it all to the serfs: "You don't matter. We set you up to fail, we'll do it again"

Schofield :

As Darwin might say if he was alive today:-

"There goes that group selection again!"

rob :

In Mike Ruppert's book"Crossing the Rubicon".He had highlighted the insider trading scenerios for 9-11.
There were several. involving "shorting" american airlines,and other air services, as well as some insurance companies.The most memorable was dealing with Deutsche Banks A.B. Brown unit.They seemed to have taken advantage of 9-11.By stock trades that morning. The head of the unit at the time was "buzzy" Krongard. An ex,high ranking CIA executive.

harposox :

Ruppert also detailed the deep historical connections between the CIA and Wall Street, and explained exactly how the insiders front-run the stock market via a computerized system called "ECHELON."

Rubicon really was a monumental piece of journalism, certainly opened my eyes to how the real world functions…

Paul Tioxon :

BETHESDA, Md., Aug. 9 /PRNewswire/ - Iridium Satellite is pleased to announce that Alvin B. ("Buzzy") Krongard has joined its Board of Directors. Buzzy Krongard is the former Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Alex.Brown Incorporated, the nation's oldest investment banking firm. In addition, Krongard served as Vice Chairman of the Board of Bankers Trust, in addition to holding other financial industry posts. He also served as Counselor to the Director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), then as Executive Director of the CIA from 2001 to 2004.

Iridium, as the only provider of truly global satellite voice and data communications, helps government organizations and businesses around the world communicate where there are no other forms of communication available. Iridium is the only mobile satellite communications service that provides complete pole-to-pole coverage of the earth, making it ideal for remote and backup communications. As such, Iridium has experienced substantial business growth in providing services for mission critical communications, as well as for response to natural and manmade disasters. Iridium is tapping top-level counsel as it expands its Board. The company announced its appointment of Tom Ridge, Former Director of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, to its Board in June.

"Iridium is at a pivotal point in growing its business and expanding its services," said Dan A. Colussy, CEO and Chairman, Iridium Satellite. "With Buzzy's deep knowledge base in investment banking and his unmatched experience with the intelligence community, we look forward to his direction as we expand our financial resources and further serve our important customer base."

The Iridium network is designed for communications typical in sectors including intelligence, homeland security, defense, government, emergency response, maritime and aviation. Only Iridium allows for switching and routing of mobile satellite communications in space, making it independent of land-based infrastructure, as well as making it secure, unlike other satellite communications networks. As such, Iridium enables primary and backup communications for mission-critical operations as well as manmade and natural disasters, where terrestrial, cell and radio towers can be decimated.

"I look forward to sharing my investment banking background, as well as my insight into the communications needs of the intelligence community, as an Iridium Board member," said Mr. Krongard. "I am impressed with the unique aspects of the Iridium network and the power it brings to bear on the Global War On Terrorism (GWOT), homeland defense and other related operations. Iridium has an important customer base to serve and I am pleased to assist."

During Mr. Krongard's 29-year private sector career, he served as Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Alex.Brown Incorporated, as well as Vice Chairman of the Board of Bankers Trust. Mr. Krongard also served as Counselor to the Director of the CIA, then Executive Director of the CIA. The Executive Director is the third ranking position within the CIA and functions as the chief operating officer of the Agency. Krongard received an A.B. degree with honors from Princeton University and a Juris Doctor degree with honors from the University of Maryland School of Law. He served three years of active duty as an infantry officer with the U.S. Marine Corps.

About Iridium Satellite

Iridium Satellite LLC ( is the only provider of truly global satellite voice and data solutions with complete coverage of the earth (including oceans, airways and Polar Regions). Iridium delivers essential communications services to and from remote areas where no other form of communication is available. The Iridium constellation consists of 66 low- earth orbiting (LEO), cross-linked satellites and has multiple in-orbit spares. The constellation operates as a fully meshed network and is the largest commercial satellite constellation in the world. The Iridium service is ideally suited for industries such as maritime, aviation, government/military, emergency/humanitarian services, mining, forestry, oil and gas, heavy equipment, transportation and utilities. Iridium provides service to the U.S. Department of Defense. The company also designs, builds and sells its services, products and solutions through a worldwide network of more than 100 partners.


To attract new customers, Iridium will register users who have purchased satellite phones abroad and now use them in Russia illegally. According to Glushko, there are about 20,000 to 30,000 such users in the country.

Iridium officially ceased operations in Russia in 2000 after it went bankrupt.

Until recently, Globalstar has been the only provider of satellite phone services in Russia, Izvestiya reported.

The main consumers of satellite phone services in the country are currently insurgents in the North Caucasus, according to law enforcement agencies and the Defense Ministry. Satellite phones have traditionally been used in Russia by those who wanted to avoid being tracked.

Iridium will have to either register or block illegal subscribers in Russia by July, according to Izvestiya.

Enslavedlikeyou :

@ Massinissa

It links investment banking, CIA insider and exclusive listening post opportunities doesn't it?

Thanks Paul Tioxon

Tokai Tuna :

Private Equity | Revolving Door May 30, 2013, 7:23 am

Petraeus Back in Spotlight, via Wall St.


Kohlberg Kravis Roberts announced on Thursday that it had hired David H. Petraeus, a retired four-star general and former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, as chairman of the new KKR Global Institute.

The institute will focus on economic forecasts, communications, public policy and emerging markets.

Paul Tioxon :

Thank you for taking the time to read the material. This is an instance of the 3rd ranking CIA Exec, with investment banking background, going onto the board of directors of a significant global satellite telecom in 2009.

By 2013, Russia, which had outlawed such satcom phone service, invites this particular company to legally operate within its territory. The majority of the existing Russian customer based, 20-30k, are "insurgents in the North Caucasus, according to law enforcement agencies and the Defense Ministry. Satellite phones have traditionally been used in Russia by those who wanted to avoid being tracked".

The Russians have invited what is a thinly disguised CIA front to operate the only legit satcom phone service. So, if you have nothing to hide, sign up. If u r caught with an illegal phone it's gulag time for Vladimir.

Paul Tioxon :

The background on Iridium is that a $6Bil set of 66 satellites offering state of the art global phone service that is unhackable goes belly up. It is bought up for $25Mil by some obscure company with oblique ties to you know who, the agency that shall remain nameless.

Fast forward to today and the board of directors includes the above mentioned from 3rd in charge of the CIA. If you go to the link, you will see the primary users are DoD and extraction industries that operate in remote areas e.g. oil platforms at sea, timber stands in the Amazon, rare earth mines in Afghanistan. Not to mention many exploration of said extractables. So, if you have thousands of biz customers all over the world who find diamond or gold mines in a secret location, yr satellite phone system with GPS will know all and hear all, from people who are being sold a secure line that only physically exists in outer space beyond the reach of wire taps or hackers.

Unless the company running it is backdoored right into the you know who. You do know who you know who is, don't you?

Oh Gee, another Banker, General, White House Fellow and wanna be US Senator at Iridium.

Iridium Communications Adds Retired Gen. to Board
By SpaceNews Staff | Nov. 9, 2009

"Retired U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Peter M. Dawkins, a paratrooper, Rhodes Scholar and Heisman Trophy-winning football player turned investment banker, joins the board of directors of Iridium Communications Inc., the Bethesda, Md.-based mobile satellite communications firm announced Nov. 2.

Iridium Chief Executive Officer Matt Desch said Dawkins is a "proven leader in business and the military" who "brings outstanding credentials to Iridium."

A 1959 graduate of West Point Military Academy, Dawkins served 24 years in the Army, commanding a company in the 82nd Airborne Division, leading a battalion in Korea, and commanding a brigade in the 101st Airborne Division. Following his retirement from the military, he launched his career in investment banking at Lehman Brothers.

Prior to founding his current firm, Shining Star Capital LLC, Dawkins was the vice chairman of Citigroup Private Bank.

Dawkins is no stranger to politics. He has been a White House fellow, served as military assistant to the U.S. deputy secretary of defense, and in 1988 ran for the U.S. Senate from New Jersey, losing to incumbent Frank Lautenberg, a Democrat, in the general election. He was also Vice-Chairman of Bain and Company."


With direct ties to the CIA and Pentagon and the White House, do you think that would be useful to investment bankers who seem to hire him after absolutely no finance experience but only tons of information that is closely held by the military and White House?

The relevance of this reply was to provide an instance that corroborates the coupling of the intelligence community and Wall St. High level government employees with no banking experience get into finance at the highest levels upon retiring and are strategically placed, such as these 2 are, at a critical communication choke point. Such advantageous positioning to know what and with whom others are communicating, at the highest level of business places you at the proverbial commanding heights of capitalism.

jake chase :

He was one heck of a running back in 1959, and nothing hit him in 24 years in the army, either. I'd like to see Reggie Bush pull that off.

nonclassical : need to know the history of Alan "Buzzy" Krongard:

FTW, October 9, 2001 – Although uniformly ignored by the mainstream U.S. media, there is abundant and clear evidence that a number of transactions in financial markets indicated specific (criminal) foreknowledge of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. In the case of at least one of these trades - which has left a $2.5 million prize unclaimed - the firm used to place the "put options" on United Airlines stock was, until 1998, managed by the man who is now in the number three Executive Director position at the Central Intelligence Agency.

Until 1997 A.B. "Buzzy" Krongard had been Chairman of the investment bank A.B. Brown. A.B. Brown was acquired by Banker's Trust in 1997. Krongard then became, as part of the merger, Vice Chairman of Banker's Trust-AB Brown, one of 20 major U.S. banks named by Senator Carl Levin this year as being connected to money laundering.

Krongard's last position at Banker's Trust (BT) was to oversee "private client relations." In this capacity he had direct hands-on relations with some of the wealthiest people in the world in a kind of specialized banking operation that has been identified by the U.S. Senate and other investigators as being closely connected to the laundering of drug money.

Krongard (re?) joined the CIA in 1998 as counsel to CIA Director George Tenet. He was promoted to CIA Executive Director by President Bush in March of this year. BT was acquired by Deutsche Bank in 1999. The combined firm is the single largest bank in Europe. And, as we shall see, Deutsche Bank played several key roles in events connected to the September 11 attacks.


Before looking further into these relationships it is necessary to look at the insider trading information that is being ignored by Reuters, The New York Times and other mass media. It is well documented that the CIA has long monitored such trades – in real time – as potential warnings of terrorist attacks and other economic moves contrary to U.S. interests. Previous stories in FTW have specifically highlighted the use of Promis software to monitor such trades.

It is necessary to understand only two key financial terms to understand the significance of these trades, "selling short" and "put options".

"Selling Short" is the borrowing of stock, selling it at current market prices, but not being required to actually produce the stock for some time. If the stock falls precipitously after the short contract is entered, the seller can then fulfill the contract by buying the stock after the price has fallen and complete the contract at the pre-crash price. These contracts often have a window of as long as four months.

"Put Options," are contracts giving the buyer the option to sell stocks at a later date. Purchased at nominal prices of, for example, $1.00 per share, they are sold in blocks of 100 shares. If exercised, they give the holder the option of selling selected stocks at a future date at a price set when the contract is issued. Thus, for an investment of $10,000 it might be possible to tie up 10,000 shares of United or American Airlines at $100 per share, and the seller of the option is then obligated to buy them if the option is executed. If the stock has fallen to $50 when the contract matures, the holder of the option can purchase the shares for $50 and immediately sell them for $100 – regardless of where the market then stands. A call option is the reverse of a put option, which is, in effect, a derivatives bet that the stock price will go up.

A September 21 story by the Israeli Herzliyya International Policy Institute for Counterterrorism, entitled "Black Tuesday: The World's Largest Insider Trading Scam?" documented the following trades connected to the September 11 attacks:

- Between September 6 and 7, the Chicago Board Options Exchange saw purchases of 4,744 put options on United Airlines, but only 396 call options. Assuming that 4,000 of the options were bought by people with advance knowledge of the imminent attacks, these "insiders" would have profited by almost $5 million.

- On September 10, 4,516 put options on American Airlines were bought on the Chicago exchange, compared to only 748 calls. Again, there was no news at that point to justify this imbalance; Again, assuming that 4,000 of these options trades represent "insiders," they would represent a gain of about $4 million.

- [The levels of put options purchased above were more than six times higher than normal.]

- No similar trading in other airlines occurred on the Chicago exchange in the days immediately preceding Black Tuesday.

jake chase :

Well, for every buyer there's a seller. Before swallowing this hook, line and sinker, you just might want to look at the stock's trading history leading up to 9-11. Just saying.

Jackson Bane :

The NSA and CIAs retail fronts can be considered TBTF Banks. In 2010, HBGary Federal and Berico Technologies (basically companies that are contracted to do spook work) outlined a plan to attack Wikileaks. They acted upon a request from Hunton and Williams, a law firm working for Bank of America, as suggested by the DOJ. So yes, controlling markets includes front running them.

Banger :

History of American intel shows it's origins are, in part, in the intel operations of Wall Street banks. It is entirely logical that the covert ops people are connected to Wall Street and have been since the beginning.

rob :

There was also an interesting 60 minutes program that aired in the nineties about the "echelon" program. As well as the FBI's "carnivore" program. Back then these were both doing what the hooplah is talking about now.One person they spoke to(Who was a whistleblower at the time) specifically said that the system was rife with abuse in the sense of corporate espionage. One corporation spying on another.As well as domestic spying,except that he said any instance of domestic spying just needed counterparties in other countries, so as to provide cover, legally. Considering the five participating countries, that was no problem. "escelon", was built to collect all electronic data in the world. Todays revalations are its grandkids, no doubt.

Historically, the CIA is run by "wall st". Not in a legal sense. But the cia was created by and run by people who themselves, their families, and or partners families have perennially been scions of wall st. It is safe to say, the cia works for wall st. first. America after that…

Banger :

That's the point I've been making. We need to understand the full reach of the American security services which are all very closely linked in the power-relations of this country. I suggest that one of the reasons Wall Street is immune from prosecution has something to do with those who are not just pointing money at politicians but also those who are pointing guns at them. That's why I have said for a long time that true reform is impossible in this country and that we do not live in a republic or a democracy but an oligarchy that is unassailable–this has been the case since 1963.

Katie :

why do you pick 1963 specifically?

nobody :

Some people think that, in 1963, the oligarchy was being credibly assailed. Try adding this:

To this:

Then pour in James Douglass's book, and Russ Baker's. Shake and stir.

schemp :

Likely referring to the assassination of JFK, when the financial/intelligence/military state asserted their full control.

Not that things weren't well underway before then. Eisenhower's Military-Industrial complex speech was in 1961, just for starters.

Massinissa :

Considering that the ENTIRE PURPOSE on both Mossadeq's and Arbenz's overthrow was to benefit very specific businesses (a couple oil companies in Mossadeq's case, and the United Fruit Company, now known as Chiquita, in Arbenz's), its not really surprising that some insiders were able to act on information.

But I say, this is an absolutely completely wonderful study.

I left out Chile, because it was more about scaring the living daylights out of other countries/giving a testing ground to Milton Friedman than really about any specific economic interests, so the revelation that insiders were aware of that one as well is in my mind particularly juicy.

nobody :

"Chile…was more about scaring the living daylights out of other countries/giving a testing ground to Milton Friedman than really about any specific economic interests."

Some have suggested otherwise:

"According to CIA head William Colby's testimony, the CIA tried - with $8 million-to change the election results in Chile when it seemed a Marxist, Allende, would win.

American corporations didn't like Allende because he stood for nationalization of Anaconda Copper and other businesses. Anaconda Copper owed a quarter of a billion dollars to a group of banks led by Chase Manhattan, whose chairman is David Rockefeller, Nelson's brother. Now we are catching on to the meaning of 'national interest'."

Massinissa :

Ah, my bad… Very interesting.

Ah, the 'N' word, Nationalization. Amazing that all three of these great men were deposed for that same sin against American empire.

citizendave :

This is probably going to sound foily.

They could use insider trading info to enhance a black ops investment portfolio. They would accept funding from Congress to hide the fact that they don't need funding from Congress.

True or not, it would make a good plot for a speculative fiction novel.

NSA has an R&D and manufacturing campus adjacent to Fort Meade. By mutual agreement the high profits paid to the defense contractors could in reality be creative accounting to disguise equity shares. Or a portion of profits could be set aside so that the agency could fund off-book R&D. Or some other scenario of defenestration of government oversight.

EricT :

Not really, they tried drug selling before with the contras, insider trading wouldn't involve as many people and would be easier to keep hidden, considering that most people couldn't even tell you what the actual insider trading law is nor have a good understanding on how it impacts the overall markets.

Roger Bigod :

Unconvincing. There's too any other sources for leaks - briefing papers for the President, possibly the State Department, the coup plotters in the target country;

The NSA data is a bonanza for trading. M&A activity would show up in emails involving law firms and investment banks, physical locations of executives, working hours of staffs. It's interesting that the Brits have data collection similar to NSA and exchange information. For every idealist like Snowden, there's probably several industrious nerds with better judgment and thriving offshore accounts.

There's a great glossy Grade B flick here. Sort of a "Chinatown" or "LA Confidential" for our times.

Sluggeaux :

C'mon, people! Connect the dots. Booz, Allen, Hamilton rakes in close to 6 Billion dollars in congressionally-mandated (and often no-bid) revenue every year, banking profits on that revenue of a quarter Billion dollars, gathering your information on behalf of the NSA.

Booz, a private company with access to all that information, is a division of the Carlyle Group, the third largest private equity leveraged buyout player in the world. You don't think that they're using all that information for their own purposes?

"Forget it Jake. It's Chinatown."

Yves Smith :

You really aren't engaging adequately with the study findings and methodology. There are a lot of coup plots underway at any point in time, and you can bet they all claim and to a degree do have US backing.

If someone invested in every one, they would not show the kind of excess returns shown in this study. The authors found the trigger date, which was the classified authorization of the coup. There's a hell of a lot of planning before and after coups, both ones that don't get backing and ones that do. This shows a significant appreciation around a critical trigger date.

Roger Bigod :

My mistake. I thought their claim was that the CIA leaked to the traders, but they do mention the possibility of other channels for the leak.

They were careful to get the exact ate of the formal decision, which is about the best they could do with only 3 or 4 examples.

profoundlogic :

if it looks like a duck…

Alxschn :

I think it's important to not be too attached to greed or profit motive as an explanation for these and other similar findings. Of course they're involved, but in general I think the primary driver is a desire to expand influence and control through hegemonic means. The profit-maximizing transnational corporation is a primary "weapon" of hegemonic war, and when it's used in these cases and in others, it will seem as though the pursuit of profits will have been the primary driver of events but in reality it's a second-order effect of a strategic geopolitical decision to destabilize a country, install a leader who will play ball and privatize, and then send in these extremely connected corporations to gain control of key resources and infrastructure – things that in previous ages could only have been accomplished through costly military campaigns and occupations. Focusing only on the profits and the greed aspect distracts from being able to find the signal in the noise. There is no separation of economic and foreign policy at the highest levels. In fact modern economic policy is almost certainly born from early- to mid- century foreign/military strategy (with the ascent of certain economic ideologies being a second-order consequence to justify/cover for the them.)

Banger :

Great points! Indeed there is also no separation between economics and politics–we aren't arguing about economic philosophies in this country at all, but who gets what privileges.

Hugo Stiglitz :

Very good point. But as Snowden pointed out, individuals could initiate data grabs. So there are certainly people taking advantage.

from Mexico :

But you don't explain the process by which the thirst for power comes to trump material interests. Where does this insatiable appetite for power come from?

There are various theories and explanations. Here's Hannah Arendt's:

[I]n backward regions without industries and political organization, the so-called laws of capitalism were actually allowed to create realities. The bourgeoisie's empty desire to have money beget money as men beget men had remained an ugly dream so long as money had to go the long way of investment in production; not money had begotten money, but men had made things and money. The secret of the new happy fulfillment was precisely that economic laws no longer stood in the way of the greed of the owning classes. Money could finally beget money because power, with complete disregard for all laws – economic as well as ethical – could appropriate wealth. …

The state-employed administrators of violence soon formed a new class within the nations and, although their field of activity was far away from the mother country, wielded an important influence on the body politic at home. Since they were actually nothing but functionaries of violence they could only think in terms of power politics. They were the first who, as a class and supported by their everyday experience, would claim that power is the essence of every political structure.

The new feature of this imperialist political philosophy is not the predominant place it gave violence, nor the discovery that power is one of the basic political realities. Violence has always been the ultima ratio in political action and power has always been the visible expression of rule and government. But neither had ever before been the conscious aim of the body politic or the ultimate goal of any definite policy. For power left to itself can achieve nothing but more power, and violence administered for power's (and not for law's) sake turns into a destructive principle that will not stop until there is nothing left to violate.

–HANNAH ARENDT, The Origins of Totalitarianism

Banger :

Not sure what Arendt is saying here – but the idea that power can get nothing but more power is not right in my view. Power brings status and the ability, in men, to attract what a man might thing is a better class of trophy wife or mistress. In my experience, power is very much about status and the ability to attract sexual partners an amazingly broad spectrum, ideologically, of women are attracted to powerful men. Also, power buys you, to an extent, security for you and yours–with power you can command people with guns and other equipment to assure youre little empire and those of your friends are protected.

from Mexico :

Banger said:

Power brings status and the ability, in men, to attract what a man might thing is a better class of trophy wife or mistress.

There are no more basic material drives - drives of the body or of the flesh - than food and sex.

So you've just circled back around to what is known as the cultural-materialist theory. But as Azar Gatt notes in War in Human Civilization,

At a more fundamental level, as with other theoretical 'systems'…the cultural materialists never seriously explained, never felt that there was a need to explain, their central argument: why was it that the quest for material gains was the overriding motive of human action?

This was simply postulated as a fact of life, the way things were… Furthermore, the predominance of the materialist argument necessitated that all other possible motives would be somehow explained away as secondary, derivative, or disguises for the material motive… [T]he materialist argument often called for elaborate intellectual acrobatics, which in extreme cases made cultural materialism famous for the most contrived explanatory stories.

Banger :

Good thoughts–actually if we are looking at real motivation human being's default setting is compassion as social and neuro-science seems to be telling us. We want to connect and love and celebrate joyfully–that's who we really are. At some point fear overcame that our natural tendency to be cool and be hip.

from Mexico :

Humans seem to have all sorts of drives and motivations that do not enhance fitness. On one end of the spectrum, as Gat explains, some humans are willing to engage in the extremely high-risk activities of violence and war for nothing more than rank, status, prestige, honour and esteem, things which convey precious little material benefit in many social circumstances.

On the other end of the spectrum are compassion and empathy, and the "deep sense of fairness and concern for justice that is extended even toward strangers" that Joan B. Silk speaks of. And just as with much of violence and war-making, it is difficult to see how these are adaptive.

If one is to hew to a purely materialist or naturalist position, then one must develop theories to explain how these sentiments came about by purely material mechanisms, and cannot fall back on "the will of man" or "the will of God" explanations invoked by the humanists and religionists.

jake chase :

I don't think Arendt knows what she is saying either. Her books remind me of what Truman Capote said about Jack Kerouac: that isn't writing, it's typing!

citizendave :

Good points. The money is not the end, it is a means to an end. Despite our opinions about the hyper-inflated defense budget, the defense intelligence agencies believe the cause of national defense is noble. It's easy to imagine being frustrated with Congressional intransigence. The fate of the nation is at stake (in their PoV). If you can't persuade Congress to fund your bleeding-edge machinery R&D, then maybe you can go into business for yourself, to do what you believe needs to be done. Breaking the law for a good cause! After all, the Founders were law-breakers - they constituted a new government, with a new set of laws. Of course, those who preferred the rule of the British Monarch were out of luck under the new regime. Perhaps we will learn to stop worrying and love the new security state.

Phrase :

… " "The real money is elsewhere - in, for instance, foreign policy itself. You probably thought foreign policy was about dealing with threats to "national security," spreading democracy, ensuring peace, and whatever other lying slogans they throw around like a moldy, decaying, putrid corpse. The State's foreign policy efforts are unquestionably devoted to maintaining the U.S.'s advantages - but the advantages they are most concerned about are access to markets and, that's right, making huge amounts of money. Despite the unending propaganda to the contrary, they aren't terribly concerned with dire threats to our national well-being, for the simple reason that there aren't any:" … Arthur Silber … from "Follow the Money: The Secret Heart of the Secret State. The Deeper Revelations of the Snowden Revelations" by Chris Floyd …

from Mexico :

Phrase :

The State's foreign policy efforts are unquestionably devoted to maintaining the U.S.'s advantages.

Here, let me fix that for you:

The State's foreign policy efforts are unquestionably devoted to maintaining the transnational 0.01%'s advantages.

Phrase :

@ from Mexico: … Your correction is appreciated and hopefully also the author of the quote, … Arthur Silber would indorse fully. … I was not familiar with his writing or his blog ( until Paul Craig Roberts referenced the Global Research Article mentioned above. … Mr. Silber's words take exception to Snowden's revelations being further vetted by The Guardian's investigative journalism liability guidelines. His blog articulates his nuances for such concerns in a refreshingly blunt honest manner. IMHO … There is certainly much to consider -- … best regards … phrase …

Katie :


Yonatan :

Were the strange share deals that took place around 9/11 (the justification for the coup against US democracy) ever satisfactorily explained?

Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg :

This is where trolls post apoplectic rants about how dare you propagate your kooky theories here. After all, the …intelligence agencies…proved it was some lone nuts with box knives?

Upright clean thinking people shouldn't entertain such notions. It's a disservice to the sainted 3000 &c

Hugo Stiglitz :

I've never read a satisfactory explanation of that and have never heard of any real investigation. But that does not mean there wasn't one.

Banger :

Frankly, nothing about 9/11 has been explained. We were given a story which we had to accept and we were told that the details and loose threads cannot be discussed and even wondering about them makes you a "conspiracy theorist" and therefor mentally unstable. This mentality is current across the political spectrum, to be sure, but it focused mainly on the left–where in Daily Kos and many other places discussion on evidence that calls into question any of the government assertions was banned. As I've said many times, without confronting the issue of the 60s assassination and 9/11 the left is no better than being the official opposition left run by the Stasi in East Germany.

nonclassical :

Yes-there's been a COVER-UP…towit-building 7, 5 excuses for destruction of, 5 Pentagon cameras and one convenience store, removed-video available of Pentagon strike shortly after strike, before facade fell….testimony of "families of 911 victims" and all other testimony at "911 Commission" completely secret….

Sibel Edmonds, FBI translator, gag order…..Colleen Rowley, Minnesota FBI who quit when computer linking terrorist cells-U.S. was disallowed access till after 911….."Able-Danger"…..Alan "Buzzy" Krongard-"put options" placed upon United-American Airlines…..etc, etc….

what is being covered up???

Yves Smith :

Yes, according to Snopes:

Charles Frith :

Your readers might be interested in Dr Joseph Farell's analysis of CIA/NSA manipulation of markets.

Jim :

I appreciate this article and the discussion thread. But can someone here explain the status of the Dube, Kaplan, Naidu article. Has it been published somewhere after an anonymous peer review?

Yves Smith :

Could you try using Google?

It's been cited 36 times, which is vastly higher than most financial economics papers.

I used that version linked to because it's otherwise paywalled. It ran in the Quarterly Journal, an Oxford publication. I infer it was released pre its formal publication, which I've seen more than occasionally.

JerseyJeffersonian :

This sounds so very, very plausible to me. The NSA and the CIA have all of this information that will push stock prices around, and can actually be the instruments of the events that push stock prices around, particularly in the case of the CIA whose actions influencing events in foreign lands and involvement in regime changes directly affect policies in those lands that impact the fortunes of US corporations.

It's a very old game: consult Major General Smedley Butler's War Is A Racket for some earlier episodes, as well as an overview of the game as she was played back in the day. Well worth the read: For more info on the man and his deeds, see the wiki entry: ). Oh, and despite the pooh poohing, the Business Plot was the real deal. The 1%ers learned from that debacle, and refined their approach.

On top of the obvious connections between these arbiters of information and events and Wall Street and banks, they themselves may have lots and lots of skin in the game in the form of massive, unaccountable black funds that can be invested to make them substantially independent at need from appropriations from Congress when they have something they want to do with complete impunity and secrecy. Money under the mattress, so to speak. Recall the long suspected role of the CIA in illicit drugs, which are a fabulous source of revenue in their own right. (As a minor example, remember the drug running operations of the Contras to fund operations, coupled with the sales of weaponry to Iran to serve the same goal, all run with the connivance of Oliver North, Caspar Weinberger, and George Bush (the Vice-President at the time, but formerly Director of the CIA).

The possibilities are endless. In general terms, those things that can generate fabulous amounts of money are twofold:

1) Information asymmetry – when some group is in possession of knowledge not available to the average Joe;

2) The ability to shape events secretly – with the knowledge of the actions being taken confined to a small group – in a direction favorable to those positioned to take advantage of these developments through foreknowledge.

These two things are found, in spades, in the intelligence community and in the action wing of this same community. No, they don't always get it right, nor do their ventures always go as planned; but the margins on which they operate make these little setbacks mere trifles by way of comparison to the number of times things go their way, and the ROI is very favorable.

Banger :

Markets and insider trading is a very fertile area of speculation. I think that when the stakes are as high as they are today–when we see the extraordinary riches that accrue to those that are the biggest speculators we have to wonder about the information they are acting on. I suggest to you that the major players are allowed to trade based on insider information exchanged in informal settings by "made men" and/or conveyed through signals that resemble contract bridge. Whatever it is I'm 100% certain that insider trading is a central component of the today's market system. Those who get caught are players who have stepped on somebodies toes. I say this as someone familiar with smaller scale criminal behavior–the cops and DA have favorite drug dealers who are allowed to survive in exchange for favors of one kind or another–those that are ultimately busted by the cops or the DEA are people who, politically, have not accumulated enough force–cops usually know what's what on the street through informants–they choose to act against those who are easy to nail and who are not paying them off in whatever currency the authorities are looking for whether it is information or valuables or favors-it's a very complex world whose laws, in my view, apply on the larger scale world. I know very little about that world but it seems to operate along similar lines as the old "street" I had accidentally landed in long ago and was fortunate to get out of fairly quickly.

Hugo Stiglitz :

You echo what many small investors think, everything is rigged in favor of the big players, so why bother. If I'm going to piss away my salary it might as well be at a decent pub.

Banger :

Some day traders do very well–they train themselves to look for patterns and often find, through trial and error, opportunities to exploit the market in a certain niche. So a smart investor can win in the markets–you can see the patterns of buy and sell and recognize a strategy by a big player or group of players that day–you ride with it and guess, from past performance, when that group of traders bails and you bail too. I've seen guys do that–I think it's kind of a waste of time and boring but other fairly smart people seem to make a small living doing it.

jake chase :

Boring and anxiety provoking too. Did it for several years and made a small fortune. Of course, I started with a large fortune.

nobody :

Ultimately, the lines all connect, and the game is the game, whether on the "street" or the Street.

David Simon seems to have a fairly good grasp on these truths, and The Wire does pretty well at showing how things really work, and how the laws that are actually operative scale across institutions, from the gang on the corner, to the gang in blue, to the gangs running the ports, to the gangs in City Hall, to the gangs in the law offices.

Dave Chappelle understands these truths pretty well, too:

Lambert Strether :

The information asymmetries and the secrecy - hence the opportunity for profit - persist, whether the operations are a "success" or not.

One might wonder where the true incentives lie.

Hugo Stiglitz :

I've wondered also about individuals at Google, and for that matter, Bloomberg. These are companies situated where a clever individual might devise some real time data mining algorithms to time trades and so forth. Just access to Google Finance search data would be valuable.

nick b :

I don't think you need to speculate anymore:

annie :

snowden is essentially saying that if he had such access it follows that hundreds/thousands of (paid) informers/spies have/have had such access.

mk :

didn't he (or someone) say a million spies had access to this info?

allcoppedout :

There doesn't seem to be much written directly on this topic. It is clear our intelligence services are involved in finance and markets – Mitchell's 'Carbon Democracy' is a good introduction on the control of oil's supply networks and keeping the price and margins up historically and under current McJihad (hence the Iraq War may have been about keeping prices up not securing supply).

Finance has long links with conquest and piracy – think of the prices Cortez and his men had to pay for supplies in their plunder, and the Enigma machine was invented to transmit commercial information from Asia to Europe in code. Over half the CIA's current activity is now 'private', so there is plenty of opportunity for leaks or inside use of information before we need to think of intelligence operatives as other than rather decent coves like James Bond.

Given our captured politicians all now act on the basis that votes are delivered 'on the economy stupid' it is hard to imagine any of them resisting the use of our agencies to make money or determine which cronies get it. Indeed, if markets were free and fair, having the massive costs of US military and covert intelligence services would surely put one at a huge commercial disadvantage unless … simples!

Lots of former intelligence operatives end up working for banksters or establishment companies suggesting a back-scratching network.

One can easily imagine how direct dealing in the market knowing details of a coup, or, say, a mining company able to operate where others can't because you are covertly paying local troops would be very lucrative in funding more covert action or personal bank accounts. The article has a clever methodology, but I suspect most of the money 'made' by our covert services and people networked to them is made off market in coerced fire-sales, arms and construction contracts, drugs and minerals.

I have written a (bad) novel on this topic. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the writing process was the discovery of how much that I invented had already happened. Ivy League alumni fund, Mayfair hedge fund, Rwandan army involvement via CIA/MI6 in the Tivus, dead Africans … all true before the last page was typed.

EricT :

I find it interesting that no one has looked into the existence of connections between K-street and the private intelligence establishment. When you are mining all communications, including those of government officials, the knowledge to a lobbyist would be invaluable in trying to affect legislation.

NotTimothyGeithner :

But retired baseball player, Roger Clemens, may have lied to Congress about steroid usage. What is more important? The integrity of baseball stats or the well being of the American financial system?

Banger :

Well, there are all kinds of connections in all kinds of places I can name but "no one" who can get published in the mainstream media can afford to look into it if they value their careers (or their lives). Only people off the mainstream grid (off the reservation as we use to say in Washington) look into such things deeply.

This I'm sure of: the intelligence community is into everything from Wall Street, K Street to organized crime–they are part of the power-elite and play the power game that the mainstream media does not cover.

Butch In Waukegan :

Generals go from the military to the boardroom to appearing as analysts on TV; congressmen go from their elected jobs to K street; business people go from corporations to regulatory agencies and back around to the corporate world.

This is the age of "grab yours while you can." What makes anyone believe that spooks, high and low, are any different?

nonclassical :

you mean THESE "generals", all tied to defense industries??:

"Hidden behind appearance of objectivity, is a Pentagon information apparatus that has used those analysts in a campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the administration's wartime performance, an examination by The New York Times has found.

The effort, which began with the buildup to the Iraq war and continues to this day, has sought to exploit ideological and military allegiances, and also a powerful financial dynamic: Most of the analysts have ties to military contractors vested in the very war policies they are asked to assess on air.

Those business relationships are hardly ever disclosed to the viewers, and sometimes not even to the networks themselves. But collectively, the men on the plane and several dozen other military analysts represent more than 150 military contractors either as lobbyists, senior executives, board members or consultants. The companies include defense heavyweights, but also scores of smaller companies, all part of a vast assemblage of contractors scrambling for hundreds of billions in military business generated by the administration's war on terror. It is a furious competition, one in which inside information and easy access to senior officials are highly prized.

Records and interviews show how the Bush administration has used its control over access and information in an effort to transform the analysts into a kind of media Trojan horse - an instrument intended to shape terrorism coverage from inside the major TV and radio networks.

Analysts have been wooed in hundreds of private briefings with senior military leaders, including officials with significant influence over contracting and budget matters, records show. They have been taken on tours of Iraq and given access to classified intelligence. They have been briefed by officials from the White House, State Department and Justice Department, including Mr. Cheney, Alberto R. Gonzales and Stephen J. Hadley.

In turn, members of this group have echoed administration talking points, sometimes even when they suspected the information was false or inflated. Some analysts acknowledge they suppressed doubts because they feared jeopardizing their access.

A few expressed regret for participating in what they regarded as an effort to dupe the American public with propaganda dressed as independent military analysis.

"It was them saying, 'We need to stick our hands up your back and move your mouth for you,' " Robert S. Bevelacqua, a retired Green Beret and former Fox News analyst, said.

Kenneth Allard, a former NBC military analyst who has taught information warfare at the National Defense University, said the campaign amounted to a sophisticated information operation. "This was a coherent, active policy," he said.

As conditions in Iraq deteriorated, Mr. Allard recalled, he saw a yawning gap between what analysts were told in private briefings and what subsequent inquiries and books later revealed…"

Lambert Strether :

Front-running the market is an improvement over dealing coke wholesale, I suppose, if one must have a black budget.

Any speculation about what the NSA's financial "Air America" might look like? The corporate structure? Off-shore or on-shore? Principals? Deniability? A public-private partnership?

And so forth.

nonclassical :

…not "pubic-private", but "surveillance", as private industry rushes to create miniaturized drone surveillance before public awareness of…

Butch In Waukegan :

See Eavesdropping on the Planet (CounterPunch) on the related issue of spooks and industrial espionage.

German security experts discovered several years ago that ECHELON was engaged in heavy commercial spying in Europe. Victims included such German firms as the wind generator manufacturer Enercon. In 1998, Enercon developed what it thought was a secret invention, enabling it to generate electricity from wind power at a far cheaper rate than before. However, when the company tried to market its invention in the United States, it was confronted by its American rival, Kenetech, which announced that it had already patented a near-identical development. Kenetech then brought a court order against Enercon to ban the sale of its equipment in the US. In a rare public disclosure, an NSA employee, who refused to be named, agreed to appear in silhouette on German television to reveal how he had stolen Enercon's secrets by tapping the telephone and computer link lines that ran between Enercon's research laboratory and its production unit some 12 miles away. Detailed plans of the company's invention were then passed on to Kenetech.

Lambert Strether :

That's odd. We have an IP case in links today about a wind company (Sinovel) except Chinese not German. One might wonder whether there is an intel subtext here as well.

papicek :

Since 70% of those working in NSA programs are contractors, the pertinent question is probably more like: How much is Booz Allen frontrunning markets?

Which is what happens when you ditch the public ethic, people.

wendy davis :

To the theme of organized weakening of states by IMF and other loans, defaults leading to austerity and corporatization of publicly owned infrastrucure, etc. was John Perkins' 'Confessions of an Economic Hit Man'.

citizendave :

I understand how it works, it was a lame attempt at humor.

For the reason you cite, I am persuaded that No Such Agency looks at only a small subset of what is intercepted and stored, for a relatively few pre-existing targets of interest.

My instinct tells me we are a long way from developing the machinery and human resources that could effectively analyze the entire daily data-set to develop new targets of interest. The AI is easily distracted by keywords found in ordinary speech, while subtle plain language battle codes cannot be distinguished from ordinary speech. (And as for NSA de-cryption of our communications, "impossible" just takes a bit longer.)

While I'm at it, we should not require any more whistle blowers to risk their lives and livelihoods by spilling the beans. The central question for our society is whether or not we can tolerate total intercept of all electronic communications, without violation of our Constitutional right to be secure in our persons and papers. The new definition of "collection", according to Director of Nat'l Intel Clapper, is the point at which they look at the recorded data. That currently makes sense to me. By their requirements, it is unreasonable to force them to wait to get a warrant before putting the technology in place to do the intercept (think "wiretap": aligator clips on the telephone relay at the phone company Central Office). And it would be helpful if they could look at past communications of a target of interest, rather than to begin to record after getting the warrant. They want to be able to use the warrant to look at the data. I'm thinking about equating un-examined intercepted communications data with stored video security camera info. The problem will be to insure arms-length isolation of the stored data from unauthorized access.

Eventually we will need to think about AI machinery sophisticated enough to pull together all available information about every individual, like consumer purchase history, browser history, mailing lists, etc., which will begin to suggest that "the flowers should bloom next Tuesday" is an indication of an as-yet undetected plot to do criminal mischief. And won't that put a chill on free speech!

Butch in Waukegan :
12:59 pm

On the other hand, they have to keep their 30,000+ employees busy, and "terrorists" are a scarce commodity.

citizendave :

Remember that their reach and primary mission is global, so they would naturally want to be able to intercept and store all electronic communications world wide. The US daily data-set is doubtless very big, but the global bit haul must be considerably larger. At this stage of evolution of the machinery and work force, I'm betting that paying any attention to ordinary Americans is like 'squirrel!'

leveymg :

This has been going on as long as there have been markets, particularly for public debt and bonds.

Here's an article on the use of dirty-tricks and false flag terrorist operations by the Czar's secret police during the period from the Prusso-Russian War until the outbreak of World War One. The Okhrana pioneered the manipulation of values for state bonds on the Paris Bourse:

frosty zoom :

this is very reminiscent of the business dealings of the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution in iran.

(how about a special shout out to the folks at the nsa etc! hi guys!)

Seal :

AND check out the DoD's Office of Special Brokerage Services

Lambert Strether :

Let's not be foily. After all, the OSBS was merely handling long-term investment on behalf of the Iraqi people (see also here for more interesting links).

wunsacon :

Does anyone have any theories about AIG?

Is it possible AIG was bailed out because a global insurance company has ties that people don't want disturbed by bankruptcy and selling off business units?

Lambert Strether :

Hmm. I have a vague memory of "counter-parties" being shouted rather a lot when AIG was going pear-shaped. And of course the NSA's fake storefront would have to be somebody's counter-party, I would think. Then there's the idea that for a brief period in the GFC the only liquidity that existed was provided by organized crime (granted, for a restrictive definition of "organized crime," but you see what I mean).

harposox :

Michael Ruppert discussed AIG on his website "From the Wilderness" during his pre-"Rubicon" days.

His take was that AIG has been an integral player in the intelligence game, sort of a pre-cursor to what we now know as the CIA, and that they played a major role in intelligence operations during WWII: ("The seemingly mundane insurance business is, in fact, one of the primary weapons of intelligence gathering around the world.")

He also wrote that AIG was a major operator in the global drug trade, in two important ways: first, in transport (AIG-insured affiliates owned a large fleet of C-130 transport aircraft); and secondly, in the money laundering game (using "reinsurance" as a vehicle for funnelling dirty money around the globe). Skip to the section labeled "Deconstructing AIG" (the rest of the article is, unfortunately, a bit of a mess):

Everythings Jake :

Wasn't that sort of a key point of the CIA, insider access for Wall Street and the Corporatocracy from which Dulles and others emerged to essentially found and run the agency?

The Power Principle

scraping_by :

And from an entirely different direction, in the late 1990′s and early 2000′s Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan universe novels had a private CIA/NSA/Black Ops company, the Campus, funded by Hendley Associates, investment bankers who financed their operations from frontrunning on captured intelligence. Clancy's fictional spooks ran around thwarting Islamic terrorism, Asian imperialism, doing 'reconnaissance by fire' and all the other dering-do that so captures the imagination of the innocent cowards and bombastic weaklings in the Administration, Congress, and the Chamber of Commerce. See The Teeth of the Tiger (2003).

Or, from Tom Clancy is not really a different direction, is it?

[Jun 27, 2013] Edward Snowden and the National Security Industrial Complex

June 17th, 2013

When Edward Snowden, an employee of Booz Allen Hamilton - a military contractor based in McLean, Virginia - blew the whistle on the extent of U.S. global electronic surveillance, he unexpectedly shone a light on the world of contractors that consume some 70 percent of the $52 billion U.S. intelligence budget.

Some commentators have pounced on Snowden's disclosures to denounce the role of private contractors in the world of government and national security, arguing that such work is best left to public servants. But their criticism misses the point.

It is no longer possible to determine the difference between employees of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) or the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the employees of companies such as Booz Allen, who have integrated to the extent that they slip from one role in industry to another in government, cross-promoting each other and self-dealing in ways that make the fabled revolving door redundant, if not completely disorienting.

Snowden, who was employed by Booz Allen as a contract systems administrator at the NSA's Threat Operations Centre in Hawaii for three months, had worked for the CIA and Dell before getting his most recent job. But his rather obscure role pales in comparison to those of others.

Pushing for Expanded Surveillance

To best understand this tale, one must first turn to R. James Woolsey, a former director of CIA, who appeared before the U.S. Congress in the summer of 2004 to promote the idea of integrating U.S. domestic and foreign spying efforts to track "terrorists".

One month later, he appeared on MSNBC television, where he spoke of the urgent need to create a new U.S. intelligence czar to help expand the post-9/11 national surveillance apparatus.

On neither occasion did Woolsey mention that he was employed as senior vice president for global strategic security at Booz Allen, a job he held from 2002 to 2008.

"The source of information about vulnerabilities of and potential attacks on the homeland will not be dominated by foreign intelligence, as was the case in the Cold War. The terrorists understood us well, and so they lived and planned where we did not spy (inside the U.S.)," said Woolsey in prepared remarks before the U.S. House Select Committee on Homeland Security on June 24, 2004.

In a prescient suggestion of what Snowden would later reveal, Woolsey went on to discuss expanding surveillance to cover domestic, as well as foreign sources.

"One source will be our vulnerability assessments, based on our own judgments about weak links in our society's networks that can be exploited by terrorists," he said. "A second source will be domestic intelligence. How to deal with such information is an extraordinarily difficult issue in our free society."

In late July 2004, Woolsey appeared on MSNBC's "Hardball", a news-talk show hosted by Chris Matthews, and told Matthews that the federal government needed a new high-level office – a director of national intelligence – to straddle domestic and foreign intelligence. Until then, the director of the CIA served as the head of the entire U.S. intelligence community.

"The problem is that the intelligence community has grown so much since 1947, when the position of director of central intelligence was created, that it's (become) impossible to do both jobs, running the CIA and managing the community," he said.

Both these suggestions would lead to influential jobs and lucrative sources of income for Woolsey's employer and colleagues.

The Director of National Intelligence

Fast forward to 2007. Vice Admiral Michael McConnell (retired), Booz Allen's then-senior vice president of policy, transformation, homeland security and intelligence analytics, was hired as the second czar of the new "Office of the Director of National Intelligence" which was coincidentally located just three kilometers from the company's corporate headquarters.

Upon retiring as DNI, McConnell returned to Booz Allen in 2009, where he serves as vice chairman to this day. In August 2010, Lieutenant General James Clapper (retired), a former vice president for military intelligence at Booz Allen from 1997 to 1998, was hired as the fourth intelligence czar, a job he has held ever since. Indeed, one-time Booz Allen executives have filled the position five of the eight years of its existence.

When these two men took charge of the national-security state, they helped expand and privatize it as never before.

McConnell, for example, asked Congress to alter the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to allow the NSA to spy on foreigners without a warrant if they were using Internet technology that routed through the United States.

"The resulting changes in both law and legal interpretations (... and the) new technologies created a flood of new work for the intelligence agencies – and huge opportunities for companies like Booz Allen," wrote David Sanger and Nicole Perlroth in a profile of McConnell published in the New York Times this weekend.

Last week, Snowden revealed to the Guardian's Glenn Greenwald that the NSA had created a secret system called "Prism" that allowed the agency to spy on electronic data of ordinary citizens around the world, both within and outside the United States.

Snowden's job at Booz Allen's offices in Hawaii was to maintain the NSA's information technology systems. While he did not specify his precise connection to Prism, he told the South China Morning Post newspaper that the NSA hacked "network backbones – like huge Internet routers, basically – that give us access to the communications of hundreds of thousands of computers without having to hack every single one".

Indeed Woolsey had argued in favor of such surveillance following the disclosure of the NSA's warrantless wiretapping by the New York Times in December 2005.

"Unlike the Cold War, our intelligence requirements are not just overseas," he told a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the NSA in February 2006. "Courts are not designed to deal with fast-moving battlefield electronic mapping in which an al Qaeda or a Hezbollah computer might be captured which contains a large number of email addresses and phone numbers which would have to be checked out very promptly."

Propaganda Puppets

Roger Cressey, a senior vice president for cybersecurity and counter-terrorism at Booz Allen who is also a paid commentator for NBC News, went on air multiple times to explain how the government would pursue the Boston Marathon case in April 2013. "We always need to understand there are priority targets the counter-terrorism community is always looking at," he told the TV station.

Cressey took a position "on one of the most controversial aspects of the government response to Boston that completely reflects the views of the government agencies – such as the FBI and the CIA – that their companies ultimately serve," wrote Tim Shorrock, author of Spies for Hire, on Salon. "Their views, in turn, convinces NBC hosts of the wisdom of the policy, a stance which could easily sway an uncertain public about the legitimacy of the new face of state power that has emerged in the post-9/11 period. That is influence, yet it is not fully disclosed by NBC."

This was not the first time that Cressey had been caught at this when speaking to NBC News. Cressey failed to disclose that his former employer – Good Harbor Consulting - had been paid for advice by the government of Yemen, when he went on air to criticize democracy protests in Yemen in March 2011. (Cressey has just been hired by Booz Allen at the time)

"What is not disclosed about Cressey in this segment where he scaremongers about a post-Saleh Yemen is that he has multiple conflicts of interest with the current regime there," wrote Zaid Jilani of ThinkProgress at the time.

A Flood of New Contracts

Exactly what Booz Allen does for the NSA's electronic surveillance system revealed by Snowden is classified, but one can make an educated guess from similar contracts it has in this field – a quarter of the company's $5.86 billion in annual income comes from intelligence agencies.

The NSA, for example, hired Booz Allen in 2001 in an advisory role on the five-billion-dollar Project Groundbreaker to rebuild and operate the agency's "nonmission-critical" internal telephone and computer networking systems.

Booz Allen also won a chunk of the Pentagon's infamous Total Information Awareness contract in 2001 to collect information on potential terrorists in America from phone records, credit card receipts and other databases – a controversial program defunded by Congress in 2003 but whose spirit survived in Prism and other initiatives disclosed by Snowden.

The CIA pays a Booz Allen team led by William Wansley, a former U.S. Army intelligence officer, for "strategic and business planning" for its National Clandestine Service, which conducts covert operations and recruits foreign spies.

The company also provides a 120-person team, headed by a former U.S. Navy cryptology lieutenant commander and Booz Allen senior executive adviser Pamela Lentz, to support the National Reconnaissance Organization, the Pentagon agency that manages the nation's military spy satellites.

In January, Booz Allen was one of 12 contractors to win a five-year contract with the Defense Intelligence Agency that could be worth up to $5.6 billion to focus on "computer network operations, emerging and disruptive technologies, and exercise and training activity".

Last month, the U.S. Navy picked Booz Allen as part of a consortium to work on yet another billion-dollar project for "a new generation of intelligence, surveillance and combat operations".

How does Booz Allen wins these contracts? Well, in addition to its connections with the DNI, the company boasts that half of its 25,000 employees are cleared for "top secret-sensitive compartmented intelligence" - one of the highest possible security ratings. (One third of the 1.4 million people with such clearances work for the private sector.)

A key figure at Booz Allen is Ralph Shrader, current chairman, CEO and president, who came to the company in 1974 after working at two telecommunications companies – RCA, where he served in the company's government communications system division and Western Union, where he was national director of advanced systems planning.

In the 1970s, RCA and Western Union both took part in a secret surveillance program known as Minaret, where they agreed to give the NSA all their clients' incoming and outgoing U.S. telephone calls and telegrams.

In an interview with the Financial Times in 1998, Shrader noted that the most relevant background for his new position of chief executive at Booz Allen was his experience working for telecommunications clients and doing classified military work for the US government.

Caught for Shoddy Work

How much value for money is the government getting? A review of some of Booz Allen's public contracts suggests that much of this work has been of poor quality.

In February 2012, the U.S. Air Force suspended Booz Allen from seeking government contracts after it discovered that Joselito Meneses, a former deputy chief of information technology for the air force, had given Booz Allen a hard drive with confidential information about a competitor's contracting on the first day that he went to work for the company in San Antonio, Texas.

"Booz Allen did not uncover indications and signals of broader systemic ethical issues within the firm," wrote the U.S. Air Force legal counsel. "These events caused the Air Force to have serious concerns regarding the responsibility of Booz Allen, specifically, its San Antonio office, including its business integrity and honesty, compliance with government contracting requirements, and the adequacy of its ethics program."

It should be noted that Booz Allen reacted swiftly to the government investigation of the conflict of interest. In April that year, the Air Force lifted the suspension – but only after Booz Allen had accepted responsibility for the incident and fired Meneses, as well as agreeing to pay the air force $65,000 and reinforce the firm's ethics policy.

Not everybody was convinced about the new regime. "Unethical behavior brought on by the revolving door created problems for Booz Allen, but now the revolving door may have come to the rescue," wrote Scott Amey of the Project on Government Oversight, noting that noting that Del Eulberg, vice-president of the Booz Allen's San Antonio office had served as chief engineer in the Air Force.

"It couldn't hurt having (former Air Force people). Booz is likely exhaling a sigh of relief as it has received billions of dollars in air force contracts over the years."

That very month, Booz Allen was hired to build a $10 million "Enhanced Secured Network" (ESN) for the U.S. Federal Communications Commission. An audit of the project released by the U.S. Government Accountability Office this past February showed that it was full of holes.

The ESN "left software and systems put in place misconfigured-even failing to take advantage of all the features of the malware protection the commission had selected, leaving its workstations still vulnerable to attack," wrote Sean Gallagher, a computer reporter at ArsTechnica.

Booz Allen has also admitted to overbilling the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) "employees at higher job categories than would have been justified by their experience, inflating their monthly hours and submitting excessive billing at their off-site rate." The company repaid the government $325,000 in May 2009 to settle the charges.

Nor was this the first time Booz Allen had been caught overbilling. In 2006, the company was one of four consulting firms that settled with the U.S. Department of Justice for fiddling expenses on an industrial scale. Booz Allen's share of the $15 million settlement of a lawsuit under the False Claims Act was more than $3.3 million.

Incidentally, both the NASA and the Air Force incidents were brought to light by a company whistleblower who informed the government.

Investigate Booz Allen, Not Edward Snowden

When Snowden revealed the extent of the U.S. national surveillance program earlier this month, he was denounced immediately by Booz Allen and their former associates who called for an investigation of his leaks.

"For me, it is literally – not figuratively – literally gut-wrenching to see this happen because of the huge, grave damage it does to our intelligence capabilities," Clapper told NBC News's Andrea Mitchell. "This is someone who, for whatever reason, has chosen to violate a sacred trust for this country. I think we all feel profoundly offended by that."

"News reports that this individual has claimed to have leaked classified information are shocking, and if accurate, this action represents a grave violation of the code of conduct and core values of our firm," Booz Allen said in a press statement.

Yet instead of shooting the messenger, Edward Snowden, it might be worth investigating Shrader and his company's core values in the same way that the CIA and NSA were scrutinized for Minaret in the 1970s by the United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, chaired by Frank Church of Idaho in 1975.

Congress would also do well to investigate Clapper, Booz Allen's other famous former employee, for possible perjury when he replied: "No, sir" to Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon in March, when asked: "Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?"

* Excerpts of this piece appeared on the Guardian's Comment is Free and Inter Press Service. Jim Lobe contributed research.

[Jun 25, 2013] Edward Snowden, Booz Allen Hamilton, "NATO 3″ Connecting the Dots

Snowden referred to the Frankenstein the NSA and its private contractors have created as an "architecture of oppression" in his exclusive interview with Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras in The Guardian.

"Digital Blackwater," as AlterNet's Tom Hintze pointed out, is but a tiny piece of the "architecture of oppression." The architecture also includes the use of undercover officers, agent provocateurs, and paramilitary-style policing of protests, to name a few.

Snowden's comments to Greenwald speak well to the "NATO 3″ case, which revolves predominantly on things they said to Mo and Nadia and things they said to one another on Facebook before heading to Chicago. It's what Roger Shuy referred to as "language crimes."

"[E]ven if you're not doing anything wrong you're being watched and recorded. You simply have to eventually fall under suspicion from somebody even by a wrong call," Snowden told Greenwald. "And then they can use this system to go back in time and scrutinize every decision you've ever made, every friend you've ever discussed something with. And attack you on that basis to sort to derive suspicion from an innocent life and paint anyone in the context of a wrongdoer."

Kerstin Barba

And attack you on that basis to sort to derive suspicion from an innocent life and paint anyone in the context of a wrongdoer.


With regard to deriving suspicion from innocent actions, _The Gulag Archipelago_ is mandatory reading for a glimpse of how a totalitarian regime can do just that.

[Jun 24, 2013] NSA Releases Secret Pre-History of Computers

Posted by samzenpus on Monday June 24, 2013 @09:41AM
from the please-forget-about-that-other-stuff dept.

An anonymous reader writes "The National Security Agency has declassified an eye-opening pre-history of computers used for code-breaking between the 1930s and 1960s. The 344 page report, entitled It Wasn't All Magic: The Early Struggle to Automate Cryptanalysis (pdf), it is available on the Government Attic web site. Government Attic has also just posted a somewhat less declassified NSA compendium from 1993: A Collection of Writings on Traffic Analysis. (pdf)"


Re:Pay no attention (Score:5, Insightful)

Pay no attention to the man in the Russian airport.

No, they want you to pay attention to him, to this, to ANYTHING except for what they (the US government and the NSA in particular) are actually doing with regards to you personal liberties. That is what they are trying to distract you from thinking about.

Anonymous Coward

First pwned! (Score:5, Funny)

Am I crazy for opening a PDF from the NSA?


Re:First pwned! (Score:5, Informative)

Not if you did it in a VM running a LiveCD...

Anonymous Coward

More Secret History (Score:2, Informative)

How about Bush's blackmail scheme where he used the NSA to try to obtain material to blackmail UN ambassadors into voting for invading Iraq. Most of the media treated that like it was secret...


PDFS (Score:5, Funny)

Hey you guys who are talking about Snowden, download this PDF with some cool additional code! Don't worry about it. I promise we didn't buy exploits from Adobe or Microsoft!


Re:PDFS (Score:4, Interesting)

Hey you guys who are talking about Snowden, download this PDF with some cool additional code! Don't worry about it. I promise we didn't buy exploits from Adobe or Microsoft!

Why buy what you can get for free?

If you don't use up the budget you don't get more next year. Especially if your working at an agency that can't be measured for efficiency in any way.

Anonymous Coward

The Puzzle Palace (Score:1)

There's a relatively old book about the NSA and SIGINT written by a journalist who studied publicly available materials using Tom Clancy's MO, that you can buy at Barnes and Noble or I remember reading it and thinking it was more like "what it's like to work at the NSA" than an expose, though. Still, IIRC the author and publisher had to square off with the NSA to get it in print.


Re:Broken Link (Score:4, Funny)

Got it for you. It is called stuxnet-prehistory.pdf.exe

Re:The site got suspended...

Google webcache has this []

[Jun 24, 2013] U.S. Surveillance Is Not Aimed at Terrorists By Leonid Bershidsky

Jun 23, 2013 | Bloomberg

The debate over the U.S. government's monitoring of digital communications suggests that Americans are willing to allow it as long as it is genuinely targeted at terrorists. What they fail to realize is that the surveillance systems are best suited for gathering information on law-abiding citizens.

People concerned with online privacy tend to calm down when told that the government can record their calls or read their e-mail only under special circumstances and with proper court orders. The assumption is that they have nothing to worry about unless they are terrorists or correspond with the wrong people.

The infrastructure set up by the National Security Agency, however, may only be good for gathering information on the stupidest, lowest-ranking of terrorists. The Prism surveillance program focuses on access to the servers of America's largest Internet companies, which support such popular services as Skype, Gmail and iCloud. These are not the services that truly dangerous elements typically use.

In a January 2012 report titled "Jihadism on the Web: A Breeding Ground for Jihad in the Modern Age," the Dutch General Intelligence and Security Service drew a convincing picture of an Islamist Web underground centered around "core forums." These websites are part of the Deep Web, or Undernet, the multitude of online resources not indexed by commonly used search engines.

No Data The Netherlands' security service, which couldn't find recent data on the size of the Undernet, cited a 2003 study from the University of California at Berkeley as the "latest available scientific assessment." The study found that just 0.2 percent of the Internet could be searched. The rest remained inscrutable and has probably grown since. In 2010, Google Inc. said it had indexed just 0.004 percent of the information on the Internet.

Websites aimed at attracting traffic do their best to get noticed, paying to tailor their content to the real or perceived requirements of search engines such as Google. Terrorists have no such ambitions. They prefer to lurk in the dark recesses of the Undernet.

"People who radicalise under the influence of jihadist websites often go through a number of stages," the Dutch report said. "Their virtual activities increasingly shift to the invisible Web, their security awareness increases and their activities become more conspiratorial."

Radicals who initially stand out on the "surface" Web quickly meet people, online or offline, who drag them deeper into the Web underground. "For many, finally finding the jihadist core forums feels like a warm bath after their virtual wanderings," the report said.

When information filters to the surface Web from the core forums, it's often by accident. Organizations such as al-Qaeda use the forums to distribute propaganda videos, which careless participants or their friends might post on social networks or YouTube.

Communication on the core forums is often encrypted. In 2012, a French court found nuclear physicist Adlene Hicheur guilty of, among other things, conspiring to commit an act of terror for distributing and using software called Asrar al-Mujahideen, or Mujahideen Secrets. The program employed various cutting-edge encryption methods, including variable stealth ciphers and RSA 2,048-bit keys.

The NSA's Prism, according to a classified PowerPoint presentation published by the Guardian, provides access to the systems of Microsoft Corp. (and therefore Skype), Facebook Inc., Google, Apple Inc. and other U.S. Internet giants. Either these companies have provided "master keys" to decrypt their traffic - - which they deny -- or the NSA has somehow found other means.

Traditional Means Even complete access to these servers brings U.S. authorities no closer to the core forums. These must be infiltrated by more traditional intelligence means, such as using agents posing as jihadists or by informants within terrorist organizations.

Similarly, monitoring phone calls is hardly the way to catch terrorists. They're generally not dumb enough to use Verizon. Granted, Russia's special services managed to kill Chechen separatist leader Dzhokhar Dudayev with a missile that homed in on his satellite-phone signal. That was in 1996. Modern-day terrorists are generally more aware of the available technology.

At best, the recent revelations concerning Prism and telephone surveillance might deter potential recruits to terrorist causes from using the most visible parts of the Internet. Beyond that, the government's efforts are much more dangerous to civil liberties than they are to al-Qaeda and other organizations like it.

(Leonid Bershidsky is an editor and novelist based in Moscow. The opinions expressed are his own.)

To contact the writer of this article: Leonid Bershidsky at


They do not have reliable interpreter to translate in real time the terrorist plots and therefore, the surveillance is for the regular English speakers.


This article should be welcomed by the intelligence services, as they are being informed that there is another place to look for terrorist communications and information. Had they known that only 0.2% of the internet was searchable by GOOGLE, they might have done something more sophisticated. They might have even investigated the Undernet. Why didn't they think of that before?

Really, people, could they be so dimwitted to think that the monitoring that has been recently exposed is the most synoptic and intrusive efforts that should be employed? I would seriously hope that their efforts are far broader and more sophisticated than what has been revealed by this individual who probably had access to a very limited subset of the information-gathering capacity.


Highly encrypted (2048 bit) VPN's, trusted digital certificates and a host of other forms of protection have been available to US individuals, commercial, financial interests and state/local governments for almost 5 years BUT nobody would ever admit that there was a problem to keep their information protected. . . albeit from their own government. For those that fear their information will be compromised, may I suggest that you go back to writing? It is very difficult to hack a pen.

Tommy Jonq

The propaganda machine is doing a great job of obscuring Snowden's actual revelation: everyone already knew that the government has been spying on Americans since before J Edgar Hoover. What Snowden revealed is that PRIVATE COMPANIES like Booz Allen, and their employees, LIKE SNOWDEN, can access any information about any American any time without ANY OVERSIGHT.

Using, BTW, computers and software paid for by American taxpayers. PRISM isn't even an NSA program. The data mined is sold to lots of parties, including the NSA, CIA, and FBI, but also to other PRIVATE COMPANIES, domestic and foreign. Banks. Insurance companies.

The NSA and other "security" agencies don't even do their own security checks-private contractors like Blackwater/Craft "clear" OTHER PRIVATE CONTRACTORS like Booz Allen.

Ironically, police and other government agencies can't actually use the information to arrest you for say, selling drugs or child pornography via email without respecting your 4th and 5th amendment rights. But Booz Allen can sell that information, or someone's membership on a gay dating website, or whatever, to anyone they choose. Or use it to blackmail anyone they choose. Including employees of NSA, FBI, DHS, CIA, Congress .

tim miller

errr...I'm not sure you understand how gov contractors work. Save yourself some heartache, or at least focus it towards a real issue, do some research before getting worked up.

Big Wig

So the solution is to do nothing and just sit back let freedom reign. Until we're bombed.


You really need to get a grip. They're not supermen. Do they want to kill Americans - as many as possible, anywhere or any time? Yes, of course. But look at the record of actual results from all our extraordinary efforts. What apprehensions on planes have occurred have been due to passenger actions - not the ridiculous TSA, who seem to regard elderly whites and handicapped children in wheel chairs as the most dangerous travelers in the air. The Russians gave our security organizations the Tsarnaev brothers, and we still couldn't "find" them. This is all theater - expensive, unconstitutional theater. And it will ultimately be used against Americans who have nothing to do with terrorism.


The solution is to do the right thing ( monitor the Undernet, i.e. private nets set up by terrorists), not the easy thing and then pat yoruself on the back. Only people who have no thing to hide use Skype and Gmail and such because everyone knows they are hacked all the time, not just by the governments but by cyber criminal rings.


Like airport security, the activities in question only affect law abiding citizens. In the case of airport security, however, the degree to which one's privacy is invaded is obvious and the activity can be defended as window-dressing, something designed to make us feel safer.

In the case of the NSA, the activity has been a closely held secret from its true targets: U. S. citizens.


I find the facts stated a bit suspicious, the underweb? I am pretty sure that most correspondence goes through well known mail relays - its not my day job to know such stuff but it would make more sense to me. On an aside note, gathering of seemingly unrelated information is what intelligence gathering does and has always done it certainly is not going to stop. That is why they call it a "private service" rather than a "public service"


I was listening to all this and realized something. I am not sure anyone else has, because I have not heard it mentioned, and yet it seemed important. The NSA claimed it was not gathering information on US citizens, but that does not exclude allies from doing it and sharing that information. British intelligance has the same capability as US intelligence, they may even have redundent connected systems. So Britian gathers data on Americans and America gathers information on Britians and both claim their hand are clean (grey area). There could be others involved. Most assuredly the Isrealies, the Germans, possibly the French, Spain, Brazil, Australia, all playing a shell game of information. Any way thats how I'd do it.


Remember Goodfellas? The leader of that mob clan never used phones, he used face to face communications only, and he covered his mouth to prevent lip reading. The events of the story took place 50 years ago--so even then people knew about constant government surveillance. Terrorists, at least those that pose serious danger, are doing the same, I would have to think. Nobody in that racket is stupid enough to be "on the grid."

That said, the US brought this on itself. Terrorist demands are clear and simple: get out of our countries and lands, stop supporting Zionism, and leave us alone, and all this stuff will stop. This is all the fault of US foreign policy--which is to get up in the grill of everyone.


Logic dictates that if its true that only 0.2% of the internet can be searched, then surveillance programs are only effective at finding information on those not trained and trying to hide said passed information ... which is the majority of our citizenry ... if the so-called undernet networks, including the subset of which that are terrorist networks, use encryption protocols strong enough that they can't be cracked (and that's a genie that can never be bottled again), the balance between privacy concerns and catching the next would be terrorist truly seem oddly weighted ...


Knowing that, then why are so many politicians on both sides of the isle are defending Prism as a necessary tool for combating terrorism?

Are concerned Americans right about the federal government is filled with American public employees who want to spy upon their neighbors?

Ernie Lynch:

Because it provides jobs in their district and enhances their nation security credentials. Only the gullible believe that the National Security apparatus protects the American citizen.

Duane McDonald

Politicians practice Politics, so they say and do the things that attract the most votes and financial support, rational logical things have no part in their actions.

GCHQ taps fibre-optic cables for secret access to world's communications by Ewen MacAskill, Julian Borger, Nick Hopkins, Nick Davies and James Ball

Blanket Surveillance. Now you will know the truth... and the truth will make you paranoid ;-)
21 June 2013 | The Guardian

Britain's spy agency GCHQ has secretly gained access to the network of cables which carry the world's phone calls and internet traffic and has started to process vast streams of sensitive personal information which it is sharing with its American partner, the National Security Agency (NSA).

The sheer scale of the agency's ambition is reflected in the titles of its two principal components: Mastering the Internet and Global Telecoms Exploitation, aimed at scooping up as much online and telephone traffic as possible. This is all being carried out without any form of public acknowledgement or debate.

One key innovation has been GCHQ's ability to tap into and store huge volumes of data drawn from fibre-optic cables for up to 30 days so that it can be sifted and analysed. That operation, codenamed Tempora, has been running for some 18 months.

GCHQ and the NSA are consequently able to access and process vast quantities of communications between entirely innocent people, as well as targeted suspects.

This includes recordings of phone calls, the content of email messages, entries on Facebook and the history of any internet user's access to websites – all of which is deemed legal, even though the warrant system was supposed to limit interception to a specified range of targets.

The existence of the programme has been disclosed in documents shown to the Guardian by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden as part of his attempt to expose what he has called "the largest programme of suspicionless surveillance in human history".

"It's not just a US problem. The UK has a huge dog in this fight," Snowden told the Guardian. "They [GCHQ] are worse than the US."

However, on Friday a source with knowledge of intelligence argued that the data was collected legally under a system of safeguards, and had provided material that had led to significant breakthroughs in detecting and preventing serious crime.

Britain's technical capacity to tap into the cables that carry the world's communications – referred to in the documents as special source exploitation – has made GCHQ an intelligence superpower.

By 2010, two years after the project was first trialled, it was able to boast it had the "biggest internet access" of any member of the Five Eyes electronic eavesdropping alliance, comprising the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

UK officials could also claim GCHQ "produces larger amounts of metadata than NSA". (Metadata describes basic information on who has been contacting whom, without detailing the content.)

By May last year 300 analysts from GCHQ, and 250 from the NSA, had been assigned to sift through the flood of data.

The Americans were given guidelines for its use, but were told in legal briefings by GCHQ lawyers: "We have a light oversight regime compared with the US".

When it came to judging the necessity and proportionality of what they were allowed to look for, would-be American users were told it was "your call".

The Guardian understands that a total of 850,000 NSA employees and US private contractors with top secret clearance had access to GCHQ databases.

The documents reveal that by last year GCHQ was handling 600m "telephone events" each day, had tapped more than 200 fibre-optic cables and was able to process data from at least 46 of them at a time.


Innocent until proven guilty, they said.


I think they're working under the premise that everyone is guilty until proven innocent, after lengthy surveillance.......A bit like the Stasi.


The thing that surprises me most about this is that everyone is surprised that the internet is being used to spy on us. After all, who invented the internet?


That's not the issue. The point is the scale of it, the fact that it is being done in a blanket manner, without any democratic safeguards or supervision. Yes, many of us figured it was going on, but now we not only know for sure, we also know the extent of it. The question is, now that we are all suspects, what do we want to do about it?


Jeez, spy on millions of people and record billions of messages just to thwart 8 potential terrorists.

Here's an idea - quit spying and we the people will take the f--king risk of a few nutjobs doing something crazy, okay? I'd rather have a couple of loons do something stupid than western governments turn into 1984 Orwellian monsters.


So rather than warn British people and businesses not to use x, y and z internet company because they're compromised by foreign governments the UK government gets in on the act in a big way, too?

That's nice. Whose side are they on?


This is absolutely massive -

..."It's not just a US problem. The UK has a huge dog in this fight," Snowden told the Guardian. "They [GCHQ] are worse than the US.".... Or even 'better' as GCHQ might say


Time to encrypt every text with Wickr (iOS) or TextSecure (Android).


But using a VPN or encryption is now likely to get you watched
You'll become one of the 'needles' that they're looking for.


This really is not that much of a surprise. If the Guardian journos had done a bit more research the may have stumbled across the very freely available information that the US built the submarine USS Jimmy Carter specifically to tap into undersea fibre optic cables.

See Also:


British spy agency collects and stores vast quantities of global email messages, Facebook posts, internet histories and calls, and shares them with NSA, latest documents from Edward Snowden reveal

My PRIVATE messages, emails, telephone calls are private, who in the government told GCHQ they could spy on me and hand over my private correspondence to a foreign power? Find out Who is responsible and hold them to account according to the law!


William Hague has got some explaining to do.

I'm sure if hes done nothing wrong he has nothing to worry about.


So why doesn't he come clean about the night he spent in a hotel with that male assistant?

If he has a right to know our business, we have a right to know his.


Hague is a liar.


Hague is a politician.

That means he is a liar by default.

Their interests are not ours. They will obscure their actions through deceit so they can get away with them. They hide behind secrecy while demanding that we do not have any. They have their own agenda, different to the one stated in supposedly free and open democratic elections.

This country is not a democracy. GCHQ's activities underline this.


Ok. Really. Enough talk. Something has to be done this. Might I suggest: Shut GCHQ down immediately. Prosecute our governments, who have lied to and colluded against the people they are meant to represent. End our relationships with tech manufacturers and digital content systems. Our democracies are becoming corporate slave states, mass surveillance and total control over an economic system that exploits everyone bar a privileged few. This has to end.


Jack London's novel 'The Iron Heel' is available online. Please read it.

Jordon Pepperall

Given this ability, I take it Internet based paedophile sex rings and child pornography users could have been arrested within the past 18 months but wouldn't have for the sake of keeping the whole thing a secret?


The Guardian understands that a total of 850,000 NSA employees and US private contractors with top secret clearance had access to GCHQ databases.


According to NPR (American public television)
No. Not a misprint, though most of them are private contractors rather than government employees.


It's alright, as William Hauge says, if your not doing anything wrong, your have nothing to fear.

It was true in Germany in the '30's & it's true now.


What are the two eyes and three eyes partner countries?



Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

It is an axis of evil. We have unaccountable power dictated by corporations. Even if we vote out the government the secret state will remain.

Eisenhower saw it coming, but we let the bastards in.


You will know the truth... and the truth will make you paranoid.


Most organised crime, terrorists, paedophiles use ip blocking devices, and machines which disperse the signal, so one minute it appears in one country, then another, then another. They use machines which can not only give proxy servers, but scramble what is being spoken, or images being shared, so anyone spying on them is left with a lot of "white noise".

It is virtually impossible to spy on sophisticated criminal networks, for when they transmit signals, they use sophisticated machinery both to block where they are, and pay for transactions in virtual currency such as bitcoin.

Authorities rely on word of mouth to crack paedophile rings, criminal and terror networks, usually paid informants.

They can easily spy on you or me, unless you use one of the various incripting, and ip blocking devices on sale. I watched a documentary awhile back on it,

That is why the Government cannot crack paedophile rings, or sophisticated terror or criminal rings, and only have occasional success. Most criminals leave virtually no online footprint.

They operate in something known as the Deep Web or hidden internet. 90% of internet traffic happens in the deep web, far more than on google, yahoo, or any other engine. The Government however cannot access the data transferred on the deep web.
I believe the documentary said they use web crallers to access the deep web. They explained the most common type of machine used to access the deep web, but I cannot for the life of me remember what it was called.

I only know once connected to the deep web, with one of these machines, you can only be rumbled if someone informs on you.


fuck this for a game of soldiers. time to go deep web me thinks. going to spend the weekend deleting my online presence.


There is nothing to be surprised about it, we are living in Orwellian times unfortunately and definitely it is going to get worst.


"Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives.

They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal.

We are not like that. We know what no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me."
― George Orwell, 1984


WE KNOW! With all due respect to Guardian journalists this is not news! You live in an Orwellian state and sleep walked into a Germany 1933 moment - police states are easier to build than to dismantle!


Silly Osama bin Laden. If only, instead of conspiring to fly planes into buildings, he had conspired to tap civilian communications for his own uses and abuses, Western governments wouldn't have assassinated him--they would have hired him and told him to have fun. Terrorists, you need only pick the right sort of crime and the UK and US governments will be right there beside you.


Nascent totalitarianism to fight an ambiguous enemy. If people are taking steps to remain 'anonymous' on the Internet, do we even live in a democracy anymore. How is that any different from censoring oneself in order to not anger those in power?


I hate to have to say this, but they've probably had the capability to do this for over 20 years. The how was explained by a lecturer on my degree course. Doing it unnoticed would a skilled task though. GCHQ and the NSA will have needed permission from the cable's owners as doing it on a large scale would need planning and service outages.


I used to be adamantly opposed to this data collection but now I know better. It is keeping us safe from terrorism. The Government knows what is best for us. There are dangerous enemies out there and the Gov. knows how to combat them. We have to trust our Gov. It loves us and would never do anything to harm us. Gov. Bless!

Scott McMahon

Blanket Surveillance - this is what the Stasi and other Eastern Bloc countries did.. Now basically our own Govt and Security forces are acting like old Stalinists... I grew up in the 80s, during the Cold War, and we got fed the propaganda that we just didn't *do* that sort of thing in the wonderful 'free democratic west', that was what those 'nasty' countries behind the "Iron Curtain" did....


So, in America NSA officials and the Obama Administration are busy assuring us that no Americans are having their emails read and their telephone calls listened to in violation of our 4th Amendment. But as many have suspected, the easy work-around for this is to have the UK intercept and give them the emails and calls.

Our government pays no attention to the privacy of non-Americans, and the UK makes sure our 4th Amendment protections are eviscerated. What a lovely arrangement.


it's a "special" relationship


For many months we have quite rightly been taking journalists to court and dragging media executives to hearings over bugging cellphones illegally to make a story. Yet taxpayers fund this mammoth industrial-scale GCHQ programme with impunity and with immunity, and with no accountability to us. It operates with no democratic supervision nor answerability, and Cameron must act to bring this operation back under control. This is a bigger scandal than the CQC, and that is saying something.


UK officials could also claim GCHQ "produces larger amounts of metadata than NSA"

Rule Britannia! Makes you proud of the old bulldog spirit. (Wipes tear away from eye.)


Put aside for a moment the huge problem of personal privacy here, and consider how much money a greedy amoral person with access to this sort of thing could make merely mining it for commercially valuable, which is to say, inside information. There are hundreds of thousands of small bits of information every hour that if a greedy person got hold of them, even a week or a day or even an hour before he was legally allowed to do so, that person could make himself, or other people, astonishingly rich.

Do you trust everyone at GCHQ, or everyone at the NSA for that matter, to be so honest that you believe that kind of thing isn't going on?


The terrorists won! Now our country is becoming more like theirs by the day.

Since 1997 the government has launched an unprecedented assault on our most basic rights. Under the false pretext of protecting the public, both Labour and coservative have pawned off our fundamental freedoms, turning britain into a mass surveillance state which now boasts the largest number of CCTV cameras in the world. Even extensions to pre-charge detention mean that suspects can be locked up for longer in Brigtain than in Zimbabwe.

All together now (Chorus): "If you've nothing to hide you've got nothing to be afraid of....." (Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Mugabe, etc., etc.)


I learned early on in the internet, when writing a email consider it to be the same as sending the information on a postcard - there for everyone to read.

If you need privacy use a 10 minute email service via an encrypted proxy server.

... ... ...
Proxy server from
Goodle disposable mail - and pick one eg


Dear GCSQ,


Thank you for reading

PS. Sorry for the security breach; there seems to be a fault in my encryption device.


Look at the Guardian today to see how police powers, perhaps initially with the best, though deluded, intent, can be perverted beyond all reason or oversight. Now we see the extent to which ordinary people and businesses are being watched, through direct cable intercepts.

How can European companies route Internet traffic through the UK knowing that UK and NSA can and will exploit commercial data for nothing more than financial gain? All intercontinental diplomatic traffic will be intercepted as a matter of course.

Given that RIPA can apply only to targetted individuals, I would love to know how the convictions claimed were discovered by these means - as any intercept of those individuals prior to being identified would be illegal. And what are the filter parameters? Shall we take a wild guess and say they are more than likely racially based?


Well if the terrorists didn't already know that none of their communications are secret, they certainly know it now.

From a different angle : If the Intelligence Agencies have so much information, why aren't they having more success against organised crime and terrorism?


How do you know how much success they're having?


Because they absolutely love to blow their own trumpet, like when they tapped and arrested some extremists for discussing the use of a remote control car bomb in a potential attack.


Here's how it works.

If you write or say something that someone within big brother flags, your name will go into the Pensky File, and you will go under surveillance until our Assistant Manager of Compliance removes your name from the File.

if you have any concerns, please contact our Assistant Manager of Compliance, Mr. George Costanza.


Ah, good? At least now the rest of the world being surveilled doesn't have to point their fingers at just Americans and say they're tired of hearing about the protections afforded to US citizens being violated by the NSA. They can be equally disparaging of the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand's citizens, as well.

Given what we know about the unholy alliance of Silicon Valley and the NSA, and given what we know about globalized economies and austerity, and given the uneasiness that many feel with regard to climate, and now, given the revelations about the Five Eyes electronic eavesdropping alliance I am prompted to think again about the political trilemma described by Dani Rodrick.

Deep down, the [Greek] crisis is yet another manifestation of what I call "the political trilemma of the world economy": economic globalization, political democracy, and the nation-state are mutually irreconcilable. We can have at most two at one time. Democracy is compatible with national sovereignty only if we restrict globalization. If we push for globalization while retaining the nation-state, we must jettison democracy. And if we want democracy along with globalization, we must shove the nation-state aside and strive for greater international governance.

It would not be unreasonable to imagine that our respective governments - not wishing to lose their hold on their own "quality of life" - have chosen the pair they'd prefer - globalization while retaining the nation-state - and have created the means to insure that circumstance is the one that will prevail.


Maybe The Guardian's sources are more accurate, but that number is very close to what was reported about a year ago by the Washington Post.

The Post investigation uncovered what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America created since 9/11 that is hidden from public view, lacking in thorough oversight and so unwieldy that its effectiveness is impossible to determine.

It is also a system in which contractors are playing an ever more important role. The Post estimates that out of 854,000 people with top-secret clearances, 265,000 are contractors. There is no better example of the government's dependency on them than at the CIA, the one place in government that exists to do things overseas that no other U.S. agency is allowed to do. - Priest and Arkin; Top Secret America [emphasis mine]


OK. This is a question I don't think has been properly explored yet.

Most are in agreement Obama is singularly failing with every pre-election policy he held that is contrary to the wishes of the military and the spy agencies.

Given the extent to which surveillance powers are growing unchecked, how can we be sure Obama is not acting out of fear of his own spy agencies or out of coercion?

Bear in mind, as the Snowden revelations have underlined, we are now living in the Big Brother panopticon. Indeed the capability of the spy agencies is so great, they have technology and data feeds perfectly capable of executing queries such as "list all married men who made a telephone calls to a female who was not the wife of the caller, between the hours of 11pm and 4am". They can uncover dirt, with ease, on any number of family and friends.

I have no clue. I am not one for melodramatics. Obama may be (and I think probably is) breaking his campaign promises because he wants to. But it strikes me as an extremely unhealthy state of affairs when the voting public have no way of knowing if the enforcer agencies of state have grown to be a real and active democracy subverting and corrupting cancer, yet know the possibility of corruption and missteps is growing stronger with every passing day.

Obama has done nothing to reassure the voters. It's all empty words of assurance in the face of an inexorable logic and we can have no idea if our enforcer agency overlords are making a bid for power.

Is it really good enough that we should just take this on trust? What happened to a government by the people for the people?

[Jun 19, 2013] Federation Council to ask U.S. Internet companies about protection of Russian users' data

Jun 17, 2013 | Interfax

The Federation Council information society development commission will hold a special meeting on June 19 to discuss leaks of personal data of users of major Internet companies, Izvestia said on Tuesday.

Representatives of Western companies, the Federal Security Service, the Interior Ministry, the Foreign Ministry and the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Communications (Roskomnadzor) have been invited to attend the meeting, the newspaper said.

Federation Council member Ruslan Gattarov proposed the discussion. He said he had been addressed by a number of Internet users concerned about the U.S. security services' PRISM project, which envisaged access to personal data of citizens who had accounts on renowned online servers.

In the opinion of Gattarov, Western Internet giants have breached the rights of their Russian clients and the Russian constitution by cooperating with the CIA and the NSA.

More about cybersecurity

[Jun 17, 2013] 3 NSA veterans speak out on whistle-blower We told you so by Peter Eisler and Susan Page

Interview is very interesting, you should listen to it in full...

Q: Did Edward Snowden do the right thing in going public?

William Binney: We tried to stay for the better part of seven years inside the government trying to get the government to recognize the unconstitutional, illegal activity that they were doing and openly admit that and devise certain ways that would be constitutionally and legally acceptable to achieve the ends they were really after. And that just failed totally because no one in Congress or - we couldn't get anybody in the courts, and certainly the Department of Justice and inspector general's office didn't pay any attention to it. And all of the efforts we made just produced no change whatsoever. All it did was continue to get worse and expand.

... ... ...

Thomas Drake: He's an American who has been exposed to some incredible information regarding the deepest secrets of the United States government. And we are seeing the initial outlines and contours of a very systemic, very broad, a Leviathan surveillance state and much of it is in violation of the fundamental basis for our own country - in fact, the very reason we even had our own American Revolution. And the Fourth Amendment for all intents and purposes was revoked after 9/11

Binney: Ever since ... 1997-1998 ... those terrorists have known that we've been monitoring all of these communications all along. So they have already adjusted to the fact that we are doing that. So the fact that it is published in the U.S. news that we're doing that, has no effect on them whatsoever. They have already adjusted to that.

Radack: This comes up every time there's a leak. ... In Tom's case, Tom was accused of literally the blood of soldiers would be on his hands because he created damage. I think the exact words were, "When the NSA goes dark, soldiers die." And that had nothing to do with Tom's disclosure at all, but it was part of the fear mongering that generally goes with why we should keep these things secret.

Q: What did you learn from the document - the Verizon warrant issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court - that Snowden leaked?

Drake: It's an extraordinary order. I mean, it's the first time we've publicly seen an actual, secret, surveillance-court order. I don't really want to call it "foreign intelligence" (court) anymore, because I think it's just become a surveillance court, OK? And we are all foreigners now. By virtue of that order, every single phone record that Verizon has is turned over each and every day to NSA.

There is no probable cause. There is no indication of any kind of counterterrorism investigation or operation. It's simply: "Give us the data." ...

There's really two other factors here in the order that you could get at. One is that the FBI requesting the data. And two, the order directs Verizon to pass all that data to NSA, not the FBI.

... ... ...

Binney: But when it comes to these data, the massive data information collecting on U.S. citizens and everything in the world they can, I guess the real problem comes with trust. That's really the issue. The government is asking for us to trust them.

It's not just the trust that you have to have in the government. It's the trust you have to have in the government employees, (that) they won't go in the database - they can see if their wife is cheating with the neighbor or something like that. You have to have all the trust of all the contractors who are parts of a contracting company who are looking at maybe other competitive bids or other competitors outside their - in their same area of business. And they might want to use that data for industrial intelligence gathering and use that against other companies in other countries even. So they can even go into a base and do some industrial espionage. So there is a lot of trust all around and the government, most importantly, the government has no way to check anything that those people are doing.

[Jun 16, 2013] NSA PRISM scandal gives big boost to little-used, privacy-friendly search engine by Brad Reed

Yahoo! News

Revelations about the National Security Agency's vast intelligence gathering operations may have been the best thing to happen to lesser known search engine DuckDuckGo. VentureBeat reports that the obscure search engine, which bills itself as an escape from Google's data-tracking search engine,, has been having its best-ever week of traffic after visitors conducted a record 2.35 million searches on Wednesday. While this is obviously still a far cry from typical Google or Bing traffic, it's still an impressive leap for a search engine that has handled fewer than 1.5 million daily queries throughout most of 2013. DuckDuckGo founder Gabriel Weinberg tells VentureBeat that he believes "the surveillance story is paramount right now, and people are talking about it" and that "DuckDuckGo users are telling their friends and family about the private alternatives."

[Jun 16, 2013] Video: Woz explains how cloud computing is turning us into Soviet Russia

Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak had a quick chat with FayerWayer earlier this week, and the site asked him about a wide range of topics, including the new look of iOS 7 and the recent revelations about the NSA's PRISM surveillance program. Wozniak's most interesting comments, though, were about how cloud computing is slowly eroding the concept of owning content that we pay for, which in turn leaves us with less freedom than we used to have.

"Nowadays in the digital world you can hardly own anything anymore," he said. "It's all these subscriptions… and you've already agreed that every right in the world belongs to them and you've got no rights. And if you've put it on the cloud, you don't own it. You've signed away all the rights to it. If it disappears, if they decide deliberately that they don't like you and they cut that off, you've lost all the photographs of your life… When we grew up ownership was what made America different than Russia."

The full video is posted below.

[Jun 15, 2013] Government surveillance reports spark sales for Orwell's '1984,' Huxley's 'Brave New World'

See also: Nineteen Eighty-Four, The True Believer, Conformism-Rebellion Spectrum

The Washington Post

Sales for dystopian classics such as George Orwell's "1984" and Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World" have been strong since news broke last week that the U.S. government had vast surveillance programs targeting phones and Internet records.

Several editions of Orwell's "1984," about an all-seeing government, were among's top 200 sellers as of Wednesday morning. Huxley's story of a mindless future ranked No. 210 and was out of stock.

A perennial favorite of futuristic horror, Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451," was ranked No. 75.

[Jun 14, 2013] EFF lawsuit may force government to release some secret info on unlawful surveillance.

... ... ...

The PRISM system is only a single piece of the NSA's vast surveillance infrastructure. Indeed, following a classified counter-terrorism briefing Wednesday after the NSA leaks, some lawmakers suggested the recent disclosures had barely scratched the surface of the NSA's spy efforts. "I don't know if there are other leaks," said Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif. "But I will tell you that I believe it's the tip of the iceberg."

[Jun 14, 2013] Inside the NSA's Ultra-Secret China Hacking Group By Matthew M. Aid

Jun 10, 2013 | Foreign Policy

The sanctum sanctorum of TAO is its ultramodern operations center at Fort Meade called the Remote Operations Center (ROC), which is where the unit's 600 or so military and civilian computer hackers (they themselves CNE operators) work in rotating shifts 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

These operators spend their days (or nights) searching the ether for computers systems and supporting telecommunications networks being utilized by, for example, foreign terrorists to pass messages to their members or sympathizers. Once these computers have been identified and located, the computer hackers working in the ROC break into the targeted computer systems electronically using special software designed by TAO's own corps of software designers and engineers specifically for this purpose, download the contents of the computers' hard drives, and place software implants or other devices called "buggies" inside the computers' operating systems, which allows TAO intercept operators at Fort Meade to continuously monitor the email and/or text-messaging traffic coming in and out of the computers or hand-held devices.

TAO's work would not be possible without the team of gifted computer scientists and software engineers belonging to the Data Network Technologies Branch, who develop the sophisticated computer software that allows the unit's operators to perform their intelligence collection mission. A separate unit within TAO called the Telecommunications Network Technologies Branch (TNT) develops the techniques that allow TAO's hackers to covertly gain access to targeted computer systems and telecommunications networks without being detected. Meanwhile, TAO's Mission Infrastructure Technologies Branch develops and builds the sensitive computer and telecommunications monitoring hardware and support infrastructure that keeps the effort up and running.

TAO even has its own small clandestine intelligence-gathering unit called the Access Technologies Operations Branch, which includes personnel seconded by the CIA and the FBI, who perform what are described as "off-net operations," which is a polite way of saying that they arrange for CIA agents to surreptitiously plant eavesdropping devices on computers and/or telecommunications systems overseas so that TAO's hackers can remotely access them from Fort Meade.

It is important to note that TAO is not supposed to work against domestic targets in the United States or its possessions. This is the responsibility of the FBI, which is the sole U.S. intelligence agency chartered for domestic telecommunications surveillance. But in light of information about wider NSA snooping, one has to prudently be concerned about whether TAO is able to perform its mission of collecting foreign intelligence without accessing communications originating in or transiting through the United States.

Since its creation in 1997, TAO has garnered a reputation for producing some of the best intelligence available to the U.S. intelligence community not only about China, but also on foreign terrorist groups, espionage activities being conducted against the United States by foreign governments, ballistic missile and weapons of mass destruction developments around the globe, and the latest political, military, and economic developments around the globe.

According to a former NSA official, by 2007 TAO's 600 intercept operators were secretly tapping into thousands of foreign computer systems and accessing password-protected computer hard drives and emails of targets around the world. As detailed in my 2009 history of NSA, The Secret Sentry, this highly classified intercept program, known at the time as Stumpcursor, proved to be critically important during the U.S. Army's 2007 "surge" in Iraq, where it was credited with single-handedly identifying and locating over 100 Iraqi and al Qaeda insurgent cells in and around Baghdad. That same year, sources report that TAO was given an award for producing particularly important intelligence information about whether Iran was trying to build an atomic bomb.

Matthew M. Aid is the author of Intel Wars: The Secret History of the Fight Against Terror and The Secret Sentry: The Untold History of the National Security Agency, and is co-editor with Cees Wiebes of Secrets of Signals Intelligence During the Cold War and Beyond.

[Jun 14, 2013] U.S. Agencies Said to Swap Data With Thousands of Firms

Corporatism is on the march...

Microsoft Bugs

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), the world's largest software company, provides intelligence agencies with information about bugs in its popular software before it publicly releases a fix, according to two people familiar with the process. That information can be used to protect government computers and to access the computers of terrorists or military foes.

Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft (MSFT) and other software or Internet security companies have been aware that this type of early alert allowed the U.S. to exploit vulnerabilities in software sold to foreign governments, according to two U.S. officials. Microsoft doesn't ask and can't be told how the government uses such tip-offs, said the officials, who asked not to be identified because the matter is confidential.

Frank Shaw, a spokesman for Microsoft, said those releases occur in cooperation with multiple agencies and are designed to give government "an early start" on risk assessment and mitigation.

In an e-mailed statement, Shaw said there are "several programs" through which such information is passed to the government, and named two which are public, run by Microsoft and for defensive purposes.

Willing Cooperation

Some U.S. telecommunications companies willingly provide intelligence agencies with access to facilities and data offshore that would require a judge's order if it were done in the U.S., one of the four people said.

In these cases, no oversight is necessary under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and companies are providing the information voluntarily.

The extensive cooperation between commercial companies and intelligence agencies is legal and reaches deeply into many aspects of everyday life, though little of it is scrutinized by more than a small number of lawyers, company leaders and spies. Company executives are motivated by a desire to help the national defense as well as to help their own companies, said the people, who are familiar with the agreements.

Most of the arrangements are so sensitive that only a handful of people in a company know of them, and they are sometimes brokered directly between chief executive officers and the heads of the U.S.'s major spy agencies, the people familiar with those programs said.

... ... ...

Committing Officer

If necessary, a company executive, known as a "committing officer," is given documents that guarantee immunity from civil actions resulting from the transfer of data. The companies are provided with regular updates, which may include the broad parameters of how that information is used.

Intel Corp. (INTC)'s McAfee unit, which makes Internet security software, regularly cooperates with the NSA, FBI and the CIA, for example, and is a valuable partner because of its broad view of malicious Internet traffic, including espionage operations by foreign powers, according to one of the four people, who is familiar with the arrangement.

Such a relationship would start with an approach to McAfee's chief executive, who would then clear specific individuals to work with investigators or provide the requested data, the person said. The public would be surprised at how much help the government seeks, the person said.

McAfee firewalls collect information on hackers who use legitimate servers to do their work, and the company data can be used to pinpoint where attacks begin. The company also has knowledge of the architecture of information networks worldwide, which may be useful to spy agencies who tap into them, the person said.

McAfee's Data

McAfee (MFE)'s data and analysis doesn't include information on individuals, said Michael Fey, the company's worldwide chief technology officer.

"We do not share any type of personal information with our government agency partners," Fey said in an e-mailed statement. "McAfee's function is to provide security technology, education, and threat intelligence to governments. This threat intelligence includes trending data on emerging new threats, cyber-attack patterns and vector activity, as well as analysis on the integrity of software, system vulnerabilities, and hacker group activity."

In exchange, leaders of companies are showered with attention and information by the agencies to help maintain the relationship, the person said.

In other cases, companies are given quick warnings about threats that could affect their bottom line, including serious Internet attacks and who is behind them.

... ... ...

The information provided by Snowden also exposed a secret NSA program known as Blarney. As the program was described in the Washington Post (WPO), the agency gathers metadata on computers and devices that are used to send e-mails or browse the Internet through principal data routes, known as a backbone.

... ... ...


That metadata includes which version of the operating system, browser and Java software are being used on millions of devices around the world, information that U.S. spy agencies could use to infiltrate those computers or phones and spy on their users.

"It's highly offensive information," said Glenn Chisholm, the former chief information officer for Telstra Corp (TLS)., one of Australia's largest telecommunications companies, contrasting it to defensive information used to protect computers rather than infiltrate them.

According to Snowden's information, Blarney's purpose is "to gain access and exploit foreign intelligence," the Post said.

It's unclear whether U.S. Internet service providers gave information to the NSA as part of Blarney, and if so, whether the transfer of that data required a judge's order.

... ... ...

Einstein 3

U.S telecommunications, Internet, power companies and others provide U.S. intelligence agencies with details of their systems' architecture or equipment schematics so the agencies can analyze potential vulnerabilities.

"It's natural behavior for governments to want to know about the country's critical infrastructure," said Chisholm, chief security officer at Irvine, California-based Cylance Inc.

Even strictly defensive systems can have unintended consequences for privacy. Einstein 3, a costly program originally developed by the NSA, is meant to protect government systems from hackers. The program, which has been made public and is being installed, will closely analyze the billions of e-mails sent to government computers every year to see if they contain spy tools or malicious software.

Einstein 3 could also expose the private content of the e-mails under certain circumstances, according to a person familiar with the system, who asked not to be named because he wasn't authorized to discuss the matter.

AT&T, Verizon

Before they agreed to install the system on their networks, some of the five major Internet companies -- AT&T Inc. (T), Verizon Communications Inc (VZ)., Sprint Nextel Corp. (S), Level 3 Communications Inc (LVLT). and CenturyLink Inc (CTL). -- asked for guarantees that they wouldn't be held liable under U.S. wiretap laws. Those companies that asked received a letter signed by the U.S. attorney general indicating such exposure didn't meet the legal definition of a wiretap and granting them immunity from civil lawsuits, the person said.

[Jun 14, 2013] PRISM 2.0: From 9 to 'thousands' of technology and finance companies

June 14, 2013 | VentureBeat
When Edward Snowden leaked the news about PRISM, we thought it was just 9 U.S. companies that were sharing customers' data with the National Security Agency (NSA). Now it looks like literally thousands of technology, finance, and manufacturing firms are working with the NSA, CIA, FBI, and branches of the U.S. military.

According to a new report by Bloomberg, these thousands of companies are granting sensitive data on equipment, specifications, zero-day bugs, and yes, private customer information to U.S. national security agencies and are in return receiving benefits like early access to classified information.

Those companies reportedly include Microsoft, Intel, McAfee, AT&T, Verizon, Level 3 Communications, and more.

... ... ...

There have long been rumors of a Windows backdoor allowing government agents access to computers running Windows, which Microsoft has always denied. But those backdoors might not even be necessary if companies like Microsoft and McAfee provide government agencies early access to zero-day exploits that allow official hackers to infiltrate other nations' computer systems … and American ones.

And it's becoming increasingly clear that the U.S. calling out China for hacking overseas is the pot calling the kettle black. Or the dirty cop calling the thief a criminal.

Wouldn't it be ironic if the largest shadowy international hacking organization is probably right here at home.

[Jun 13, 2013] Woz Compares the Cloud and PRISM To Communist Russia


Anonymous Coward

Re: As usual, Woz proves to be the guy who knows. (Score:4, Insightful)

by on Thursday June 13, 2013 @06:37PM (#44001833)

> The people I know who lived under the Soviet regime vehemently disagree with such revisionism.

I was raised in Soviet Union and live in Russia. And I must say that Black Parrot is quite right.

Emigration from Soviet Union and from Russia was/is driven by various factors. People who emigrate tend to rationalize their choices, sometimes in really twisted way. Well, you really need to find a way to tell yourself that the leaving of your fatherland was justified, to live in peace with yourself. If you want to learn something about Soviet Regime, I'm afraid that an average Soviet (and Russian) emigrant is a wrong person to rely on.

I'm no apologist of USSR, but I must say that you western people have a really bizzare view of it that hasn't got much to do with reality.


Re:As usual, Woz proves to be the guy who knows. (Score:2)

I agree with what you say, however the propaganda of America about American's greatness and the propaganda of America about the Soviet Union's tyranny were also far from the truth. The two nations were closer than the American government would ever admit to, although nowhere near as close as the paranoid elements of society would claim.

The sad reality is that both nations were stuck in a paranoid mentality during the cold war. This resulted in a reduction of civil liberties. The situation was far worse under the Soviet regime, but the American government often committed acts that it claimed were the domain of communists and that had no place in their own free society.

We see something similar happening today, only in the name of terrorism.


For all its flaws and mistakes the U.S. was nothing like the Soviets, not even close, not even now.

Can you provide an example of something that the Soviets did that the United States has not done?

While you're formulating your answer, consider that the United States is the only country to nuke another country. We used our own prisoners and citizens as guinnea pigs to conduct experiments in nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare. We engaged in propaganda in the extreme, rewriting our pledge of allegiance to include "under god" and printed the same on our money as a propaganda war against "godless communism." We engaged in witch hunts, like McCarthy appearing before Congress to say he "held in his hands" a list of known communist co-conspirators. We publicly executed Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in 1953, and it wasn't until just a few years ago, in 2008, that the transcripts from a court case widely panned at the time as a "witch hunt" revealed major inconsistencies in the testimony of key witnesses against them. That same year, the government continued to trumpet that a 98 year old man, on his deathbed, recanted and said that the Rosenbergs were spies... but the press quietly buried what he said right after: That the principle charge against them, the reason they were executed -- passing secrets about how to build the atom bomb, they were innocent of. They had only passed on low value information that was already duplicated elsewhere... mostly hand-drawn sketches.

So I'm not sure your claim that the USSR and the USA were significantly different in their propaganda campaigns... In fact, I would argue they were more or less the same, both in substance and quantity. But I'd be happy to entertain any significant act that you feel the USSR undertook that didn't have a parallel from the USA.

some old guy

USA - USSR + Russian Federation = NWO (Score:4, Insightful)

The old Party oligarchs in Russia gave up on the disfunctional Marxist police state in favor of an overtly fascist police state so they could 1) become as wealthy as Western oligarchs, 2) flaunt it like Western oligarchs, and 3) give the masses a few more consumer shinies to keep them fairly passive, all with a nice facade of democracy.

Yeltsin set the stage, and Putin has made it a tour de force in how to re-brand oppression. "There is no such thing as a former Chekist", as Uncle Boris likes to say.

Russian has become more like the USA, and the USA becomes more like Russia.

New World Order, anyone?


Re:Russia? Please... they were amateurs. (Score:4, Insightful)

Given the ruthless efficiency with which the PRISM system collected communications, I'd compare it more closely to the former East German (DDR) Stasi []

Technically, if you believe the NSA has no direct access, the ISPs and Telcos actually collected the information and sent the NSA copies. [ So when James Clapper, was asked, "Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?" and he responded, "No" he wasn't technically lying to Congress... ]


Re:Russia? Please... they were amateurs. (Score:5, Interesting)

by (756137) on Thursday June 13, 2013 @07:54PM (#44002379)

Technically, if you believe the NSA has no direct access,...

You mean, exist in a reality where there are no secret NSA rooms mirroring all the data from major carriers?

No. Clapper is a lying POS that needs to spend many decades (his remaining life) inside a super-max cell.

And he's far from the only one in this government (from both political parties) that belongs in a prison cell for the rest of their lives, and many executed for their crimes against all US citizens of all political/religious/ideological stripes and the betrayal of their Oaths of Office to protect and defend the US Constitution that have been highlighted by the string of scandals and revelations of late, and their outright lies under oath in response to questions.

This is not a (R) or (D) issue. They don't even bother keeping promises to their own Party's constituents unless it fits their agendas. They lie and betray everyone while defying and destroying the Rule of Law and constantly seeking to further restrict and redefine individual liberty and Constitutional Rights.

They see themselves as our masters and ALL of us as serfs. History demonstrates repeatedly that this is what happens when a government and those running it gain too much power relative to the people.

The current US government no longer operates with the will of the governed as expressed by the restrictions placed upon it, and therefore is no longer a legitimate government.



Re: Russia? Please... they were amateurs. (Score:4, Interesting)

Given the ruthless efficiency with which the PRISM system collected communications, I'd compare it more closely to the former East German (DDR) Stasi []

The Stasi were more competent than average; but what arguably makes the 'in capitalist America' system cleverer is how it can function as a (relatively) inexpensive appendage of free market incentives that already exist.

So much useful data gets generated, and sometimes compiled, purely for the convenience of self-sustaining private sector actors (the phone company routing calls to the correct cell and billing you, your credit card issuer keeping accounts in order, your ISP shepherding the little packets about, advertising weasels scrutinizing your behavior to try to sell you stuff, Everything Facebook, people 'checking in' to random shit on foursquare, etc, etc.) You don't need to bother with the (impressive; but rather unsustainably expensive) 'more than 10% of the population acting as at least part-time informants' business. You just copy the data that the private sector generates automatically!

Now, copying, storage, and analysis aren't free, by any means; but it's a hell of a lot cheaper than having to gather the data yourself and then pay for storage and analysis. Plus (solving a second problem that commies always had trouble with) your intelligence apparatus doubles as your consumer-goods R&D and focus grouping apparatus, since large parts of it are shared between marketing weasels and spooks, so you don't run into those embarrassing bare shelves and unfashionable lifestyles...

Ask Slashdot How To Bypass Gov't Spying On Cellphones

June 13, 2013 | Slashdot


Re:Disposable cell phone (Score:5, Insightful)

Yes. The idea of a burn phone is a very old one now. If you think that the NSA doesn't have contingencies to deal with that, you are mistaken.

Honestly, unless you really do expect to be doing something illegal, the NSA doesn't have the resources to actually analyze the material they get from everyone for all possible illegal permutations. Unless you have reason to believe you are being targeted, the very fact that you use a burn phone regularly is probably more likely to set off red flags than just your normal use of a possibly monitored phone.

Think about it this way. The use of burn phones is an inconvenience that most people won't bother with. If you are willing to put up with that inconvenience, you are in a relatively small group of people who are either refusers, or people doing illegal stuff. If I were the NSA, I'd be more interested in you as an evader, rather than less. And if they do happen to be able to track burn phones, you've just promoted yourself from Potential Terrorist, Second Class to Potential Terrorist, First Class.

When it comes to panopticons, what you really need to do is learn how to hide in plain sight. The U.S. government is more like Sauron than God. They see everything, but only if they're looking at it.


Re:Disposable cell phone (Score:5, Insightful)

they have an $80 billion per year budget. That's $255 for every Man woman and child living in this country. They certainly can track every single one of us. Especially considering the Majority of US Citizens aren't even old enough to use a phone or the internet yet.


And talk to who? (Score:4)

Once you jump through all those loops, who will you be talking to? And if such a person exists, he probably already knows what you are going to say, so why bother calling? :)


Umm (Score:4, Interesting)

How about Ubuntu Touch? Linux core, can run VPN, TOR all the other goodies, and being OSS and linux you are free to investigate code and roll you own solutions on top of it.


Re: Windows mobile 6.5 (Score:3)

Bullshit. There's nothing in the Android OS which phones home or anywhere else. Yes, there are some applications which do it, but you can shut those off. And if you're extra paranoid just go install a custom ROM and don't run the spyware applications.

That's absolutely false. If Google Apps are installed on the phone (any stock Android, not AOSP or Cyanogenmod (though you can install gapps)), then background programs will make constant connections to Google. will wake the phone periodically to phone home (despite the name, it's not normal GTalk service, as it persists even if Talk is logged out or completely disabled). If you have "Wi-Fi & mobile network location enabled", a service will periodically wake your phone and send Google the surrounding wifi access points, the surrounding cell towers, and sometimes will turn on GPS and send your location.

These are stock Android OS components that phone home. Maybe you use different definitions for "OS" or "phone home", but there is certainly something to be concerned about in Android.

[Jun 13, 2013] Sen. Feinstein: NSA Doesn't Need Court Order to Search Phone Database by Jason Ditz

Previous claims of FISA court oversight, for whatever that would be worth, over the NSA's program of collecting meta-data on phone calls made within the United States is not true, according to Senate Intelligence Committee chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D – CA)

Feinstein told reporters today that the NSA agent needs to only believe they have a "reasonable cause to believe" someone is connected to terrorism to search through the database for phone numbers that person called.

Theoretically, they could get a court order for additional data on the calls, and authorization to specifically listen in to the calls themselves, but given the huge amount of "meta-data" the NSA is now known to possess, the particulars of phone calls are likely to be rarely of serious interest.

FISA court oversight amounts to little to no protection at any rate, since the court has rubber stamped 100 percent of the requests it has been given over the past year, many of those requests broad culls of data covering millions of Americans.

How Tech Companies Are Responding to NSA Surveillance

Sales of Orwell's '1984' Soar After Spying Leak

... ... ...

Watch the video above to see whether Newman thinks customers of big tech companies are likely to boycott their email accounts or social media sites.


" secret that the companies aren't even to acknowledge that they've received an order" So what happens if the companies refuse to comply? Do they get taken to court? If so, is it a "secret court" (otherwise the orders are public record). Does the executive administration think its above the law and can just issue order that are never subject to judicial review? What happened to checks and balances - the reason we have 3 branches of government, right?


The USG will give Google permission to tell half truths to deceive and reassure the public. Every system is prone to corruption. Surveillance is massively prone to it both in how the information is used and sold to third parties, and in how the taxpayer is massively overcharged for useless and harmful programs. Only genuine transparency, requiring complete exposure of searches and seizures every five years with no immunity from prosecution for abuse.

The NSA may not be allowed to return to the shadows by John Schindler

It is difficult to see how the Obama administration, which declared an end to its predecessor's "war on terror", can indefinitely justify the invasive intelligence techniques that the Bush administration began and which the current White House has, if anything, expanded.

... ... ...

So the US intelligence community now confronts a degree of scrutiny it has not faced in four decades. Beginning with the Patriot Act after the 9/11 attacks, US defence and security agencies have been accustomed to an understanding public, fearful of more and worse terrorism, willing to give the secret government a wide berth in the name of protecting the citizenry. This may no longer be the case.

One of the issues certain to now be questioned is how the Pentagon has spent countless billions of dollars in recent years on outsourcing contractors such as Booz Allen Hamilton, a company that will likely be the poster child for misconduct in intelligence as Halliburton was in contracting over the Iraq war.

The public is right to wonder about both the ethics and efficiency of ostensibly private companies that are wholly dependent on defence contracts while being run by retired top officials of the agencies that provide the contracts.

The writer is a professor at the US Naval War College and a former National Security Agency analyst. Any opinions expressed are his own.

The internet is at risk of transforming from an open platform to myriad national networks

Revelations about US surveillance of the global internet – and the part played by some of the biggest American internet companies in facilitating it – have stirred angst around the world.

Far from being seen as the guardian of a free and open online medium, the US has been painted as an oppressor, cynically using its privileged position to spy on foreign nationals. The result, warn analysts, could well be an acceleration of a process that has been under way for some time as other countries ringfence their networks to protect their citizens' data and limit the flow of information.

"It is difficult to imagine the internet not becoming more compartmentalised and Balkanised," says Rebecca MacKinnon, an expert on online censorship. "Ten years from now, we will look back on the free and open internet" with nostalgia, she adds.

At the most obvious level, the secret data-collection efforts being conducted by the US National Security Agency threaten to give would-be censors of the internet in authoritarian countries rhetorical cover as they put their own stamp on their local networks.

But the distrust of the US that the disclosures are generating in the democratic world, including in Europe, are also likely to have an impact. From the operation of a nation's telecoms infrastructure to the regulation of the emerging cloud computing industry, changes in the architecture of networks as countries seek more control look set to cause a sea change in the broader internet.

America Church versus state

Fears about privacy intrusions are forging new and unpredictable coalitions between politicians on the left, such as Mark Udall, a Democratic senator from Colorado, and the libertarian right, such as Rand Paul, the Republican senator from Kentucky. The risk for President Barack Obama is that if he does not take this opportunity to try to build confidence in what the intelligence services are doing, he could face a second term of further leaks and growing recriminations that will overwhelm his legacy. As the president put it in a May speech about terrorism: "We must define the nature and scope of this struggle or else it will define us."

Mr Snowden has revealed details about two top-secret surveillance programmes that he hopes will start to shift the debate. First, a leaked court order showed that the NSA has been collecting the phone records of millions of Americans who are business customers of Verizon. Second, documents claimed the NSA operates a programme that allows it to siphon off large volumes of data, including emails and photos, from the servers of nine big technology companies.

The government has admitted the first disclosure but says that the nature of the programme is misunderstood. The database stores only numbers, not names, officials say. Rather than listening to calls, the intelligence services use the "metadata" from the call records to look for a terror suspects' connections.

Mike Rogers, chairman of the House intelligence committee, said that it was too expensive for the telephone companies to keep all the details of call records so they were stored at the NSA. To access any specific part of the database, the intelligence services needed a warrant based on a genuine national security threat, he said.

The second charge is less clear. Reports indicated that the NSA was using a computer program called Prism to swallow large chunks of data directly from Google, Yahoo and other companies in a manner that goes well beyond anything covered by federal court warrants. In a Guardian interview, Mr Snowden described an almost casual illegality at the NSA. "Sitting at my desk, I had the authorities to wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge or even the president," he said.

... ... ...

Some experts say that the dispute over the legality of Prism obscures the reality that court orders permit the NSA to monitor far more than had been understood, including near real-time access to email traffic. A former intelligence official said that a court order under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (Fisa) could allow monitoring for a period of several months. "This is much more than the companies periodically handing over emails," he said.

... ... ...

Many Americans would also be surprised to learn that the government is pre-emptively collecting their phone records in secret, especially as the data collection almost certainly does not end there. A Department of Justice official admitted in 2011 that the law used to justify the Verizon warrant had also been used to obtain drivers license, car rental, hotel and credit card records.

The NSA now has more tools to make sense of the growing volume of information it collects. It is building a $2bn, 1m square foot facility in the Utah desert to store the data.

Suav | June 12 11:22pm

That the government tend to gather all information amenable to processing is hardly a news. We wouldn't have much in our museums and archives otherwise. First significant example from what we tend to call modern era would probably be Joseph Fouché.

Competition between the state and individual goes on and it probably can be defined in intersecting planes: How much government knows about us as "populus"; governed people and how much we know about ourselves as a society, a nation, a "demos" (bizarre how the tension between Roman – statist approach and Greek – democratic approach persists through millennia). How much government, through its agencies, knows about us as individuals and how much each of us knows about oneself. How big change of our very being can government bring about using information at their disposal and how big influence every separate person enjoys over own self. I want to argue that in all three we are witnessing a dramatic swing of balance to the situation not seen since deep Middle Ages. One can dwell on this topic for a while, but even before there is deeper analysis and thorough process of investigation takes place (which I sincerely hope for) there is one thing that some of us do and all of us, without exception, should. (Although I count myself guilty of not doing enough in this matter)

We have to know "what they know". Everyone has to take an assumption that all that he says, does and is thinking is registered somewhere. One can call it a practical conservation of information rule. We should store all our phone (?) conversations, all our e-mails, we should apply GPS stamps to our photographs. We should track ourselves. It is the simplest, the cheapest and the most effective way to wrestle back control over oneself. (Let me do something that depends on me as there is still enough things going on that don't seem to depend on anybody) There is a huge market for mobile phone applications, hence, there is an army of talented, creative and efficient programmers out there. We can easily create demand for programmes that would analyse our lives for us. I, personally, know some Yuppies who do exactly that. Benefits are enormous. We can easily organise our lives better. We can be forewarned about which influences are we malleable to and to which we respond in a stubborn, contrariwise way. We can determine our "soft spots", our vulnerabilities and try to mend them if we can. We can think of ways of insulating ourselves from some and exposing more to others. Even if the efforts seem mostly vain, we still would be better off knowing from which side the nudge may come and when it is more likely to be a punch.

There is more to be done on a cruder level of graining. It is an old obsession of all security forces to typify the subjects. With both perceptive and executive power so much enhanced we might suppose a huge amount of research being done there. Recently announced UK's "new class structure" closed up by "Precariat" seems to be a tip of an iceberg of underlying structuring. We should be able to place ourselves on this map (oriented graph?) of society with no less accuracy. This would allow us to search more easily for people whom we have enough in common with to form friendships and alliances more easily. We are entitled to other types of knowledge too. We should know relations between formal membership (work, interests, political affiliations) and other types of social classifications. It is of paramount importance to every one of us to see clearly where we stand in society and what is the tension between our own image and that which society through different levels of aggregation projects upon us (Lobachevsky ratio).

Our freedom was always formed in tension between social and individual. Our closest circle, spouse, children, parents, friends, co-workers define most of it enhancing in some ways and limiting in others. We are being constantly redefined by belonging to wider groups, although to some, who seem to, throughout their all life cycle, flow in one ensemble, it is hardly noticeable. National and super national structures play a much greater role in this process now but it does not make us totally helpless. We should take enough effort not to loose control over our own destiny.

P.S. This short sketch draws on some assumptions. These are – most of the people who engage in those procedures profess limited practical determinism (we know more which gives us the right to decide about more)

Since around 70' we witness diminishing returns in science as well as an effect of shorter horizon. Human understanding of nature does not move forward as fast as through the last 500 years. More importantly there are no new breakthrough on the horizon. It is akin to ancient Egypt of Pharaoh and Middle Ages Europe. This is the most important factor determining strategy of "running away" as less efficient than "kicking downhill".
Understandably I declare myself as a believer in indeterminism (in the least on practical level, but rather on philosophical one) and would like to oppose any sort of remnant beliefs in predestination.

Gary Struthers | June 12 7:55pm
The law is specific about types of communication that are private: 1st class mail, phone calls from a land line, lawyer/client etc. Prince Charles taught us mobile calls are fair game because they use public airwaves. Internet traffic over the public network isn't private either for the same reason.

What's shocking to me is that people are surprised the government is taking advantage of all the information people give away.

rewiredhogdog | June 12 3:01pm

Who voted for the spies in the NSA and the CIA as our duly elected representatives and our trusted guardians to interpret the civil liberties guaranteed by the Constitution? Growing up in the Sixties, I am experiencing historical deja vu. But the stakes are much higher this time around for America. As William Burroughs, the beat writer, observed way back then, in a functioning police state the citizens will never actually see the police spying on them. With Prism and Boundless Informant we are there. Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked of the Pentagon Papers. wrote a guest column in The Guardian. It's entitled "The United Stasi of America." stasi referring to the state police in communist East Germany that spied on its citizens before the fall of the Berlin Wall.

It's uncanny how much back then resembles right now., and I mean more than just Edward Snowden filling in for Daniel Ellsberg. During the administrations of LBJ and Richard Nixon, the CIA had its Phoenix Program in the Vietnam War. It targeted for assassination VC cadres and guerrillas in South Vietnam. Presidents Bush and Obama have their drone program against suspected terrorists.. It's just an updated, high-tech version of the Phoenix program in the age of the Internet. Richard Nixon had his secret bombing in Cambodia. President Obama has violated the national sovereignty of many more nations with his drone program than President Nixon ever did while in office. LBJ and Nixon sicced the FBI and the CIA on the anti-war protesters and journalists: Obama goes after AP reporters and James Rosen, who was a designated as a "co-conspirator" in a DOJ indictment.

Now David Brooks and Thomas Friedman have written columns about Edward Snowden attacking his character and patriotism. The New York Times that fought the government in court to publish the Pentagon Papers leaked by Daniel Ellsberg. If this isn't deja vu, I don't know what is. We are way beyond just introducing legislation to redress grievances. We passed that point long ago in the long war of terror. Although I served as a medical corpsman in Vietnam, I actually feel like an old and cynical German veteran from the First World War living in the Weimar Republic.

But the revolution will NOT be televised this time around as it was during the Vietnam War era. It will be a silent coup d'etat brought to you without commercial interruptions by the national security state and the military/industrial complex. Then they can get back to fighting perpetual wars for perpetual peace.

Kel Murdock | June 12 1:26am
We must also consider that included in that wide sweep of data collection and algorithmic search for connections are the records of all of our elected representatives. Properly utilized that could make for very pliant public officials in the hands of the security services.
now what | June 11 9:50pm
you can't regulate fear
Michael McPhillips | June 11 9:19pm
We should also know whether the intelligence agencies use neuro-feedback technologies on targeted individuals, suspects, or prisoners, without their knowledge or permission. If administration officials have clearance to target those against war, climate change, gay marriage/rights, or other political or ideological issues that pose no threat to anyone but are directed against policies favored by government that would prefer no opposition because of commitments already given and though harmful to the country or its people, is unwilling to change them, freedom of speech would be being restricted punitively and unlawfully.

[Jun 11, 2013] N.S.A. Disclosures Put Awkward Light on Official Statements

While I sympathize NYT readers reaction to this incident (see below), I think it is somewhat naive. They forget that they are living under neoliberal regime.
June 11, 2013 |

Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, a Democrat whose questioning prompted Mr. Clapper's statement in March, stepped up his criticism of how intelligence officials portrayed the surveillance programs and called for public hearings to address the disclosures. "The American people have the right to expect straight answers from the intelligence leadership to the questions asked by their representatives," he said in a statement.

And Representative Brad Sherman, Democrat of California, said he had come away from a closed-door briefing by intelligence officials for House members believing that the N.S.A. had too much latitude and too little oversight.

"Right now we have a situation where the executive branch is getting a billion records a day, and we're told they will not query that data except pursuant to very clear standards," Mr. Sherman said. "But we don't have the courts making sure that those standards are always followed."

Many lawmakers trained their sights on Edward J. Snowden, the intelligence contractor who leaked classified documents to The Guardian and The Washington Post. Mr. Boehner called him a traitor.

Mr. McConnell told reporters: "Given the scope of these programs, it's understandable that many would be concerned about issues related to privacy. But what's difficult to understand is the motivation of somebody who intentionally would seek to warn the nation's enemies of lawful programs created to protect the American people. And I hope that he is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

The comments of the Senate leaders showed a coordinated effort to squelch any legislative move to rein in the surveillance programs. Mr. Reid took the unusual step of publicly slapping back at fellow senators - including senior Democrats - who have suggested that most lawmakers have been kept in the dark about the issue.

"For senators to complain that they didn't know this was happening, we had many, many meetings that have been both classified and unclassified that members have been invited to," Mr. Reid said. "They shouldn't come and say, 'I wasn't aware of this,' because they've had every opportunity."

Among lawmakers who have expressed concerns in the past, however, the issues have not been laid to rest. When reporters pressed Mr. Wyden on whether Mr. Clapper had lied to him, he stopped short of making that accusation, but made his discontent clear.

"The president has said - correctly, in my view - that strong Congressional oversight is absolutely essential in this area," he said. "It's not possible for the Congress to do the kind of vigorous oversight that the president spoke about if you can't get straight answers."

At the March Senate hearing, Mr. Wyden asked Mr. Clapper, "Does the N.S.A. collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?"

"No, sir," Mr. Clapper replied. "Not wittingly."

Howie Lisnoff, Massachusetts

While the U.S. seeks to maintain its empire, it must keep a tight lid on any dissent at home. It must also create an environment of fear here.

Michael S Wappingers Falls, NY

There is a long history of lying to Congress and the public - particularly about illegal activities. The ethos of the intelligence services is to keep their secrets from everyone. The ethics of these services includes ignoring the law if it stands in the way. Now this is well known and covered over with meaningless things like claimed congressional oversight (a joke) and special courts (rubber stamps).

This deception may be necessary to run an effective intelligence service but self regulation usually ends up papering over mistakes and poor results. Nobody has ever effectively run any of these agencies - most go rogue eventually.

vrob90, Atlanta

I'm not sure that it's a good thing to tip toe around an honest characterization of Mr. Clapper's testimony on this subject. I watched it and listened to his response to the Senator's question. His answer was unambiguous and, as we now know, an outright lie.

Frankly, it's shocking that a high government official can commit perjury before Congress and lie to the public and not be required to resign, not to mention face a grand jury. What a sorry episode.

Tom, Pennsylvania

NYT Pick..

I didn't vote for President Obama. For numerous reasons, I think he is a terrible president. Having said that, on this issue he has my FULL support. I disagree with the description of his staff misleading the American public. KEEP US SAFE! Whatever it takes. They are called "national security secrets" for a reason. I don't need to know, I don't want to know, just keep my family and I safe. The kid that leaked all of this information - LOCK HIM UP and throw away the key.

ScottW, Chapel Hill, NC

At the March Senate hearing, Sen. Wyden asked Mr. Clapper, "Does the N.S.A. collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?"

"No, sir," Mr. Clapper replied. "Not wittingly."

And now you know the reason Feinstein hates Snowden, for it is his disclosure that exposed Clapper's lie to the American people. Without Snowden, the lie would have never been revealed. Since Feinstein knew about the Verizon order, she is a co-conspirator in Clapper's lying. This weekend, she tried and make nonsensical excuses for Clapper, like he did not know what the word "collect" meant. Clapper and Feinstein could not even get their alibis straight, as Clapper claimed he was trying to tell the least untruth. The man understood the question and lied, but now we are supposed to believe everything he says. Sorry, it doesn't work that way, and Clapper should understand that full well.

It is amazing how the government propaganda machine can so easily lead many Americans by the nose to view the person who exposed Clapper's lie as evil, while giving Clapper and Feinstein a free pass. Had Feinstein and Obama made the surveillance program transparent years ago, Snowden would not have been forced to expose the lie. And for those who think he should have reported the lie some other way, who should he have reported it to--NSA, FBI, CIA, Booz Allen, Feinstein, a Congressmen not briefed on the program. Clapper needs to resign and be prosecuted for lying to Congress.

LY: St. Petersburg, FL

W.A. Spitzer: Our government has just been forced to admit to us that it not only lied to us, the people, but it lied to Congress to prevent our elected officials from knowing the truth and acting to protect us.

And you seriously believe them when they say that they aren't collecting our names and connecting them to our phone records, or that they really would not do so without a court order, or that if they bothered with a court order at this point that our courts aren't corrupt too and really would require probable cause at this point?

Because if you do believe one word they say at this point, I've got a bridge I'd like to sell you.

I don't trust our government anymore at all.

I have not felt this betrayed since Watergate.

I helped form one of the 1st Impeach Nixon committees in Chicago's Hyde Park and when Nixon resigned I really hoped that that was the last of a government that trampled on the Constitution with abandon. Then we got Bush, now we have Obama. And to this Yellow Dog Democrat, I don't see much difference between Bush and Obama at this point.

I am sickened by our government. It just makes me sick.

James California

As Benjamin Franklin said: "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

William M. Palmer, Esq. Boston

NYT Pick..

Clearly, NSA was gathering personal data on millions of Americans. Clearly, it was doing so wittingly - that is, knowing what it was doing. In short: Clapper made a false statement under oath to Congress, which is a federal crime. He deceived the public as to the nature and scope of NSA's activities - which, of course, keeps the public from questioning the legitimacy of its government's actions.

Clapper's was a self-protective comment designed to shield his institution from scrutiny and debate. In my view, that he won't be prosecuted is a shame, as if Congress doesn't demand that it be told the truth, it cannot conduct effective oversight on behalf of the American people. That Congress isn't collectively outraged shows that the general political calculation is that it is more important to be seen as tough on terrorism than as ensuring that we have honest and open government.

Nick Metrowsky, Longmont Colorado

One can spin this anyway they want to but when all said and done the American people were lied to. On top of the lies is political rhetoric and finger pointing. A whistleblower uncovered the mess and he is being called a traitor. Yes, he is a traitor; a traitor to the Congress and the Executive Branch. In his one simple act he showed to the world that the so called "beacon of democracy, rights and freedom" is nothing more than a sham. While the politicians in Washington preach the American way is the right way; behind the scenes our government is almost as dirty as some of the nations our politicians scold and ridicule.

During the Watergate hearings, the phrase "Credibility Gap" was one way to describe the Nixon administration. So, what do we call something when our current and previous president, and so called "representatives", effectively lied to the American people so many times that nothing that comes forth from Washington can be taken at face value? I called it a "Credibility Trench". A trench so wide, deep and encompassing, that it make Watergate look like a small gully in comparison.

What will happen next? If we live in a nation which upholds the Constitution, there will be full disclosure and monitoring programs dismantled, resignations and prosecutions. if our Constitution is a facade, then the politicians will cling to power by any means possible; including force, if necessary.

History will eventually show which path was taken; let's hope it was the right path.

W.A. Spitzer Faywood, New Mexico

If a warrant is required to connect the phone records to names, is the NSA really collecting personal data on millions of Americans? It doesn't become "personal" data until a name is attached; and if that requires going before a court with probable cause to get a warrant .... .

Wakan, Sacramento CA

Whatever you write on this comment page is being monitored, disregard what you may have heard from the Obama Administration.

[Jun 11, 2013] Spying Update

Zero Hedge

Moreover, as the ACLU notes, "Fusion Centers" – a hybrid of military, intelligence agency, police and private corporations set up in centers throughout the country, and run by the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security – allow big businesses like Boeing to get access to classified information which gives them an unfair advantage over smaller competitors:

Participation in fusion centers might give Boeing access to the trade secrets or security vulnerabilities of competing companies, or might give it an advantage in competing for government contracts. Expecting a Boeing analyst to distinguish between information that represents a security risk to Boeing and information that represents a business risk may be too much to ask.

A 2008 Department of Homeland Security Privacy Office review of fusion centers concluded that they presented risks to privacy because of ambiguous lines of authority, rules and oversight, the participation of the military and private sector, data mining, excessive secrecy, inaccurate or incomplete information and the dangers of mission creep.

The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations found in 2012 that fusion centers spy on citizens, produce 'shoddy' work unrelated to terrorism or real threats:

"The Subcommittee investigation found that DHS-assigned detailees to the fusion centers forwarded 'intelligence' of uneven quality – oftentimes shoddy, rarely timely, sometimes endangering citizens' civil liberties and Privacy Act protections, occasionally taken from already-published public sources, and more often than not unrelated to terrorism."

Under the FBI's Infraguard program, businesses sometimes receive intel even before elected officials.

Law enforcement agencies spy on protesters and then share the info – at taxpayer expense – with the giant Wall Street banks

And a security expert says that all Occupy Wall Street protesters had their cellphone information logged by the government.

In essence, big banks and giant corporations are seen as being part of "critical infrastructure" and "key resources" … so the government protects them. That creates a dynamic where the government will do quite a bit to protect the big boys against any real or imagined threats … whether from activists or even smaller competitors. (Remember that the government has completely propped up the big banks, even though they went bankrupt due to stupid gambles.)

And given that some 70% of the national intelligence budget is spent on private sector contractors. that millions of private contractors have clearance to view information gathered by spy agencies – including kids like 29 year old spying whistleblower Edward Snowden, who explained that he had the power to spy on anyone in the country – and that information gained by the NSA by spying on Americans is being shared with agencies in other countries, at least some of the confidential information is undoubtedly leaking into private hands for profit, without the government's knowledge or consent.

[Jun 11, 2013] Germany Demands Obama Explain American-Style Stasi Methods by Tyler Durden

06/11/2013 | Zero Hedge

When even Zee Germans are staring open-mouthed at what they call "American-style Stasi methods" you know things have got a little out of hand. As Reuters reports, German outrage over a U.S. Internet spying program has broken out ahead of a visit by Barack Obama, with ministers demanding the president provide a full explanation when he lands in Berlin next week and one official likening the tactics to those of the East German Stasi. "The more a society monitors, controls and observes its citizens, the less free it is," Merkel's Justice Minister exclaimed, adding, "the suspicion of excessive surveillance of communication is so alarming that it cannot be ignored." While Obama has defended it as a "modest encroachment" on privacy and reassured Americans that no one is listening to their phone calls, the Germans reflect "I thought this era had ended when the DDR fell."

Via Reuters,


German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman has said she will raise the issue with Obama in talks next Wednesday, potentially casting a cloud over a visit that was designed to celebrate U.S.-German ties on the 50th anniversary John F. Kennedy's famous "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech.

Government surveillance is an extremely sensitive topic in Germany, where memories of the dreaded Stasi secret police and its extensive network of informants are still fresh in the minds of many citizens.


"The more a society monitors, controls and observes its citizens, the less free it is," she said.

"The suspicion of excessive surveillance of communication is so alarming that it cannot be ignored. For that reason, openness and clarification by the U.S. administration itself is paramount at this point. All facts must be put on the table."

Markus Ferber, a member of Merkel's Bavarian sister party who sits in the European Parliament, went further, accusing Washington of using "American-style Stasi methods".

"I thought this era had ended when the DDR fell," he said, using the German initials for the failed German Democratic Republic.


Obama has defended it as a "modest encroachment" on privacy and reassured Americans that no one is listening to their phone calls.


Peter Schaar, the German official with responsibility for data privacy, said this was grounds for "massive concern" in Europe.

"The problem is that we Europeans are not protected from what appears to be a very comprehensive surveillance program," he told the Handelsblatt newspaper. "Neither European nor German rules apply here, and American laws only protect Americans."

[Jun 10, 2013] Government Spying: Should We Be Shocked?

Ron Paul's Texas Straight Talk

Last week we saw dramatic new evidence of illegal government surveillance of our telephone calls, and of the National Security Agency's deep penetration into American companies such as Facebook and Microsoft to spy on us. The media seemed shocked.

Many of us are not so surprised.

Some of us were arguing back in 2001 with the introduction of the so-called PATRIOT Act that it would pave the way for massive US government surveillance-not targeting terrorists but rather aimed against American citizens. We were told we must accept this temporary measure to provide government the tools to catch those responsible for 9/11. That was nearly twelve years and at least four wars ago.

We should know by now that when it comes to government power-grabs, we never go back to the status quo even when the "crisis" has passed. That part of our freedom and civil liberties once lost is never regained. How many times did the PATRIOT Act need renewed? How many times did FISA authority need expanded? Why did we have to pass a law to grant immunity to companies who hand over our personal information to the government?

It was all a build-up of the government's capacity to monitor us.

The reaction of some in Congress and the Administration to last week's leak was predictable. Knee-jerk defenders of the police state such as Senator Lindsey Graham declared that he was "glad" the government was collecting Verizon phone records-including his own-because the government needs to know what the enemy is up to. Those who take an oath to defend the Constitution from its enemies both foreign and domestic should worry about such statements.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers tells us of the tremendous benefits of this Big Brother-like program. He promises us that domestic terrorism plots were thwarted, but he cannot tell us about them because they are classified. I am a bit skeptical, however. In April, the New York Times reported that most of these domestic plots were actually elaborate sting operations developed and pushed by the FBI. According to the Times report, "of the 22 most frightening plans for attacks since 9/11 on American soil, 14 were developed in sting operations."

Even if Chairman Rogers is right, though, and the program caught someone up to no good, we have to ask ourselves whether even such a result justifies trashing the Constitution. Here is what I said on the floor of the House when the PATRIOT Act was up for renewal back in 2011:

"If you want to be perfectly safe from child abuse and wife beating, the government could put a camera in every one of our houses and our bedrooms, and maybe there would be somebody made safer this way, but what would you be giving up? Perfect safety is not the purpose of government. What we want from government is to enforce the law to protect our liberties."

What most undermines the claims of the Administration and its defenders about this surveillance program is the process itself. First the government listens in on all of our telephone calls without a warrant and then if it finds something it goes to a FISA court and get an illegal approval for what it has already done! This turns the rule of law and due process on its head.

The government does not need to know more about what we are doing. We need to know more about what the government is doing. We need to turn the cameras on the police and on the government, not the other way around. We should be thankful for writers like Glenn Greenwald, who broke last week's story, for taking risks to let us know what the government is doing. There are calls for the persecution of Greenwald and the other whistle-blowers and reporters. They should be defended, as their work defends our freedom.

[Jun 10, 2013] The outsourcing of U.S. intelligence raises risks among the benefits

The Washington Post

But given the threat of terrorism and the national security mandates from Congress, the intelligence community had little choice. In a briefing presentation several years ago, the ODNI estimated that 70 percent of the intelligence community's secret budget goes to contractors such as Booz Allen Hamilton.

"We Can't Spy . . . If We Can't Buy!" the briefing said.

The former director of naval intelligence, retired Rear Adm. Thomas A. Brooks, said in a report in 2007 that private contractors had become a crucial part of the nation's intelligence infrastructure.

"The extensive use of contractor personnel to augment military intelligence operations is now an established fact of life. . . . It is apparent that contractors are a permanent part of the intelligence landscape," he said.

Since Sept. 11, more than 30 secure complexes have been constructed to accommodate top-secret intelligence work in the Washington area. They occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons, about 17 million square feet.

An examination by The Post in 2010 found that 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the country.


The American public demands a reduction in federal workers.

The American public is silent on contractors (other than the misplaced belief that they represent "private" enterprise).

The American public has no idea what they're paying for -- and no idea how little oversight is in place.


Contractors are supposed to be "temporary". And that is the reason Booze Allen charges triple what a government employee at the same level would cost.

The reality is "temporary contractors" have an habit to become permanent, as the government keeps renewing their contract every year, paying triple what they would pay a government employee...

A big joke to make it look like there are fewer employees on the rolls of the government.

[Jun 10, 2013] Surveillance, IRS, media controversies fuel angst on left and right

June 6, 2013 | The Washington Post

The National Security Agency sweeping up phone records and secretly tapping into the Internet services that have become the nervous system of 21st century daily life.

They all raise questions that go beyond the ideological differences over the size and cost of government that have come to define the two political parties,

In a different way, each of the controversies stirs misgivings--sometimes dismissed as paranoia--that the most ardent liberals and conservatives have long held about Washington's power and reach.

That explains why the newly revealed leaker of classified information about government surveillance, 29-year-old tech specialist Edward Snowden, has been hailed as a "hero" by figures as diverse as conservative commentator Glenn Beck, liberal filmmaker Michael Moore, and Daniel Ellsberg of Pentagon Papers fame.

And the scandals - or pseudoscandals, depending on one's point of view - land at a time when polls show the public's trust in the federal government at or near all-time lows.

"All of those things fit together as almost a patchwork quilt of too much, too far, and too intrusive," said Democratic pollster Peter Hart. "It's not bringing people together. It's uniting in outrage."

[Jun 09, 2013] Everything you need to know about the NSA's phone records scandal

June 6, 2013 | Washington Post

So the NSA is collecting information about my location as well as who I've called?

It appears so. Cellphones make calls using the closest tower. So if the NSA knows you made a call using a specific tower, they can safely assume you were near that tower at the time of the call. The accuracy of this information varies. In urban areas, tower information can pin down your location to a specific city block or even a specific building. In rural areas, it might only identify your location within a mile or two.

[Jun 09, 2013] NSA Prism program taps in to user data of Apple, Google and others by Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill

"This is unprecedented militarization of domestic communications infrastructure."
June 6, 2013 | The Guardian

Jump to comments (2938)

A slide depicting the top-secret PRISM program.

The National Security Agency has obtained direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other US internet giants, according to a top secret document obtained by the Guardian.

The NSA access is part of a previously undisclosed program called Prism, which allows officials to collect material including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats, the document says.

The Guardian has verified the authenticity of the document, a 41-slide PowerPoint presentation – classified as top secret with no distribution to foreign allies – which was apparently used to train intelligence operatives on the capabilities of the program. The document claims "collection directly from the servers" of major US service providers.

Although the presentation claims the program is run with the assistance of the companies, all those who responded to a Guardian request for comment on Thursday denied knowledge of any such program.

In a statement, Google said: "Google cares deeply about the security of our users' data. We disclose user data to government in accordance with the law, and we review all such requests carefully. From time to time, people allege that we have created a government 'back door' into our systems, but Google does not have a back door for the government to access private user data."

Several senior tech executives insisted that they had no knowledge of Prism or of any similar scheme. They said they would never have been involved in such a program. "If they are doing this, they are doing it without our knowledge," one said.

An Apple spokesman said it had "never heard" of Prism.

The NSA access was enabled by changes to US surveillance law introduced under President Bush and renewed under Obama in December 2012.

The program facilitates extensive, in-depth surveillance on live communications and stored information. The law allows for the targeting of any customers of participating firms who live outside the US, or those Americans whose communications include people outside the US.

It also opens the possibility of communications made entirely within the US being collected without warrants.

Disclosure of the Prism program follows a leak to the Guardian on Wednesday of a top-secret court order compelling telecoms provider Verizon to turn over the telephone records of millions of US customers.

The participation of the internet companies in Prism will add to the debate, ignited by the Verizon revelation, about the scale of surveillance by the intelligence services. Unlike the collection of those call records, this surveillance can include the content of communications and not just the metadata.

Some of the world's largest internet brands are claimed to be part of the information-sharing program since its introduction in 2007. Microsoft – which is currently running an advertising campaign with the slogan "Your privacy is our priority" – was the first, with collection beginning in December 2007.

It was followed by Yahoo in 2008; Google, Facebook and PalTalk in 2009; YouTube in 2010; Skype and AOL in 2011; and finally Apple, which joined the program in 2012. The program is continuing to expand, with other providers due to come online.

Collectively, the companies cover the vast majority of online email, search, video and communications networks.

The extent and nature of the data collected from each company varies.

Companies are legally obliged to comply with requests for users' communications under US law, but the Prism program allows the intelligence services direct access to the companies' servers. The NSA document notes the operations have "assistance of communications providers in the US".

The revelation also supports concerns raised by several US senators during the renewal of the Fisa Amendments Act in December 2012, who warned about the scale of surveillance the law might enable, and shortcomings in the safeguards it introduces.

When the FAA was first enacted, defenders of the statute argued that a significant check on abuse would be the NSA's inability to obtain electronic communications without the consent of the telecom and internet companies that control the data. But the Prism program renders that consent unnecessary, as it allows the agency to directly and unilaterally seize the communications off the companies' servers.

A chart prepared by the NSA, contained within the top-secret document obtained by the Guardian, underscores the breadth of the data it is able to obtain: email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, voice-over-IP (Skype, for example) chats, file transfers, social networking details, and more.

The document is recent, dating to April 2013. Such a leak is extremely rare in the history of the NSA, which prides itself on maintaining a high level of secrecy.

The Prism program allows the NSA, the world's largest surveillance organisation, to obtain targeted communications without having to request them from the service providers and without having to obtain individual court orders.

With this program, the NSA is able to reach directly into the servers of the participating companies and obtain both stored communications as well as perform real-time collection on targeted users.

The presentation claims Prism was introduced to overcome what the NSA regarded as shortcomings of Fisa warrants in tracking suspected foreign terrorists. It noted that the US has a "home-field advantage" due to housing much of the internet's architecture. But the presentation claimed "Fisa constraints restricted our home-field advantage" because Fisa required individual warrants and confirmations that both the sender and receiver of a communication were outside the US.

"Fisa was broken because it provided privacy protections to people who were not entitled to them," the presentation claimed. "It took a Fisa court order to collect on foreigners overseas who were communicating with other foreigners overseas simply because the government was collecting off a wire in the United States. There were too many email accounts to be practical to seek Fisas for all."

The new measures introduced in the FAA redefines "electronic surveillance" to exclude anyone "reasonably believed" to be outside the USA – a technical change which reduces the bar to initiating surveillance.

The act also gives the director of national intelligence and the attorney general power to permit obtaining intelligence information, and indemnifies internet companies against any actions arising as a result of co-operating with authorities' requests.

In short, where previously the NSA needed individual authorisations, and confirmation that all parties were outside the USA, they now need only reasonable suspicion that one of the parties was outside the country at the time of the records were collected by the NSA.

The document also shows the FBI acts as an intermediary between other agencies and the tech companies, and stresses its reliance on the participation of US internet firms, claiming "access is 100% dependent on ISP provisioning".

In the document, the NSA hails the Prism program as "one of the most valuable, unique and productive accesses for NSA".

It boasts of what it calls "strong growth" in its use of the Prism program to obtain communications. The document highlights the number of obtained communications increased in 2012 by 248% for Skype – leading the notes to remark there was "exponential growth in Skype reporting; looks like the word is getting out about our capability against Skype". There was also a 131% increase in requests for Facebook data, and 63% for Google.

The NSA document indicates that it is planning to add Dropbox as a PRISM provider. The agency also seeks, in its words, to "expand collection services from existing providers".

The revelations echo fears raised on the Senate floor last year during the expedited debate on the renewal of the FAA powers which underpin the PRISM program, which occurred just days before the act expired.

Senator Christopher Coons of Delaware specifically warned that the secrecy surrounding the various surveillance programs meant there was no way to know if safeguards within the act were working.

"The problem is: we here in the Senate and the citizens we represent don't know how well any of these safeguards actually work," he said.

"The law doesn't forbid purely domestic information from being collected. We know that at least one Fisa court has ruled that the surveillance program violated the law. Why? Those who know can't say and average Americans can't know."

Other senators also raised concerns. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon attempted, without success, to find out any information on how many phone calls or emails had been intercepted under the program.

When the law was enacted, defenders of the FAA argued that a significant check on abuse would be the NSA's inability to obtain electronic communications without the consent of the telecom and internet companies that control the data. But the Prism program renders that consent unnecessary, as it allows the agency to directly and unilaterally seize the communications off the companies' servers.

When the NSA reviews a communication it believes merits further investigation, it issues what it calls a "report". According to the NSA, "over 2,000 Prism-based reports" are now issued every month. There were 24,005 in 2012, a 27% increase on the previous year.

In total, more than 77,000 intelligence reports have cited the PRISM program.

Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU's Center for Democracy, that it was astonishing the NSA would even ask technology companies to grant direct access to user data.

"It's shocking enough just that the NSA is asking companies to do this," he said. "The NSA is part of the military. The military has been granted unprecedented access to civilian communications.

"This is unprecedented militarisation of domestic communications infrastructure. That's profoundly troubling to anyone who is concerned about that separation."

A senior administration official said in a statement:

"The Guardian and Washington Post articles refer to collection of communications pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. This law does not allow the targeting of any US citizen or of any person located within the United States.

"The program is subject to oversight by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the Executive Branch, and Congress. It involves extensive procedures, specifically approved by the court, to ensure that only non-US persons outside the US are targeted, and that minimize the acquisition, retention and dissemination of incidentally acquired information about US persons.

"This program was recently reauthorized by Congress after extensive hearings and debate.

"Information collected under this program is among the most important and valuable intelligence information we collect, and is used to protect our nation from a wide variety of threats.

"The Government may only use Section 702 to acquire foreign intelligence information, which is specifically, and narrowly, defined in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. This requirement applies across the board, regardless of the nationality of the target."

Additional reporting by James Ball and Dominic Rushe


@scopey - And of course, all this spying on us means that there's no way anyone could mount a revolution any more. Revolution = terrorism nowadays.

The rich pay the politicians (our representatives, but their pals) to use our taxes (they don't pay any) to install laws and technology in the name of the fight against terrorism, with the principal objective of making sure we can't change anything about the way they run the world.


@randandan - you have to remember that the one thing the government and the military are really good at is being really inept. It's impossible to have secret operations, someone always blows the cover, always! Almost everything hegemonic governments do is poorly conceived, unwieldy and fails in it's objectives., but in the mean time they don't half do a lot of damage. If you want to look for terrorist then look no further that you governments. They are truly useless.


@scopey - For those of us in the developed world life is probably better now than it's even been. The problem is that we have become complacent and simply expect things to continue improving.

Nobody really knows what's around the corner, what we do however know is that the people who run the show have more control over our existence now than ever before. They just haven't seen reason to exert it yet.


@wobinidan - During the 1970's special branch held over 150 pieces of information on over a million people in Britain - they targeted political and trade union activists, and labour Party members, as they were defined as radicals and a danger to the security of Britain.

This fact was exposed by the ABC trial, where journalists - were taken to court for publishing MI5/MI6 agents names, and exposing their possible criminality.

The ABC trial was a well documented exposure of the state who were collecting data, with a specific ideology, and using it to spy of the citizens of Britain.

What was done?



@timecop -

Get used to it. This apparently is how the world works today.

Get used to this?

"It's shocking enough just that the NSA is asking companies to do this," he said. "The NSA is part of the military. The military has been granted unprecedented access to civilian communications.

"This is unprecedented militarisation of domestic communications infrastructure. That's profoundly troubling to anyone who is concerned about that separation."

Let's ask the Chileans, Salvadoreans, Iraqis, Iranians, Russians, and East Germans (among many others) how that worked out for them. Too often, when the line between the military and civilian world becomes blurred --on any front but especially the communications one --people end up dying very unpleasant deaths.


@timecop - The Tea Party was targeted for good reason. All those fraudulent front groups are sucking up tax dollars to fund political campaigns and claiming their activity is 'social welfare'. What's not to target and why are why all these so-called anti-tax groups such fucking leeches? You can be sure they'll continue to be targeted (because they should be), except the IRS will be less ham-handed with their internal memos.


@timecop - as George Carlin tried to point out to Americans...if you think you have don't...You have no rights...only temporary priviledges that can be, and are, revoked whenever power requires doubt it? example : ask the Japanese 'Americans' what happened to their rights under have rights in America if you do what you are told...just like every other 'democracy'.....I bet you thought the soviet union was dead?....wall street is laughing at all of you...they have rights you don't.



These same technologies are also capable of delivering a huge amount of good in the world. Efficient traffic systems, minimal food wastage, protection of health that intervenes before your nervous system reports a pain, access to the highest levels of education from the poorest spots on the planet. The possibilities are staggering. It's a brave new world and we need to find a consensus of what is and is not acceptable, new norms need to develop. But you have to recognise it's more complicated than "all new technology is bad".


@wobinidan - one of the tricks is to deny the existence of a project until its too old for anyone to care. They then say

"yes we did that, but we stopped 20 years ago".

Meanwhile the project continues. This happened with illegal/non-consented chemical and biological weapons testing on humans (soldiers) at Porton Down - they would say "we did that, but only to a few in the 50s" a few years later "we did that but stopped in the 60s", then later "we did that but stopped in the 70s" I'll leave you to work out if they ever stopped testing on people without their consent.

Anyway, it's for this reason I think the graphic is bollocks. Google etc will have an open door approach (as we all have whether we like it or not) to the spooks and this will predate the rollout of prism technology. If spooks i would have wanted to be on top of emergent trends like the growth of the Internet. Prism will just be a formalisation of the spooks previous...exploits.

During ww2 western governments learned the power of eavesdropping and they have been using it ever since against politicians, politicos, even non politicos, for corporate espionage, and occasionally to catch the odd terrorist.

Prism or no, you can guarantee that if states want to listen then they can do. What you CANT do Is have any confidence that the people trawling your data or listening in have enough brains to know what they're listening to. Because the nature of the work and the vetting process means the people employed tend to be low intelligence, prejudiced, propaganda filled OCD types.


Neo-Liberalism has resulted in there being no center ground in politics.

Your new home, that gulag, is over there. Get used to it.

Mark of the wild west

@timecop - Just keep all internet dealings on a very simple level... The spyware isn't going to be turned off just because people are bothered by it as there is no real opposition.


@StopGMO - I guess governments and 'tech giants' have little on no interest in individuals (unless it sells?) but have a great interest in the collective, the way it moves and the way it can be moved. If the data they can collect - legally or illegally - can be turned into viable information then they don't really give a shit whether or not individuals or small sections of the public (and we are small!) like it. The government (Politicians & Civil Servants) have been bought & paid for in so many different ways that they are impotent to protest.


@Drewv -

Why was this not an issue when it was just right wing groups that were targeted? Selective outrage is worthless if you refuse to defend identical rights of your political opponents. Divide and conquer, and all of you seem to give up when it is somebody else's rights in jeopardy. The opposition has been anything but massive, and since Tea Party opposition to the administration was effectively neutered prior to the past election, opposition by left wing groups has been little more than pointless posturing.

I'm not impressed.


@Douglas Mortimer -

@timecop - no ...we will fight it...this isnt how it works and people like you who accept it are part of the are probably the type of person who would call anyone who broke this years ago (like alex jones) conspiracy theorists...well news for you this is a conspiracy fact ...well done to the guardian for exposing it!

It was broken years ago, and it doesn't tale alex jones devotees to understand what the government has been up to.

The Wall Street Journal / 2008:

According to current and former intelligence officials, the spy agency [i.e., the NSA] now monitors huge volumes of records of domestic emails and Internet searches as well as bank transfers, credit-card transactions, travel and telephone records. The NSA receives this so-called "transactional" data from other agencies or private companies, and its sophisticated software programs analyze the various transactions for suspicious patterns. Then they spit out leads to be explored by counterterrorism programs across the U.S. government, such as the NSA's own Terrorist Surveillance Program, formed to intercept phone calls and emails between the U.S. and overseas without a judge's approval when a link to al Qaeda is suspected

People only seem to get upset when their personal privacy has been violated. The Bill of Rights was written to ensure that your political opponents share the same rights as you.


@wobinidan - The US is abusing the fact that much of the global hardware infrastructure of the Internet passes through its territory. For example, messages sent from Latin America to other parts of the world pass through the US. This makes it very easy for the NSA to spy on this traffic.

The rest of the world needs to take action to change this Internet dependency on the US.

The NSA may claim that Prism is not used domestically but as MI5 whistelblower Annie Machon points out, the NSA and GCHQ share information and do favours for each other. If the NSA wants to intercept a domestic target (it is legally dubious for it to do so), it only needs to ask GCHQ (which is not legally constrained) to do it for it and pass on the info and vice versa.


@Gegenbeispiel - I don't think it matters very much which country you store your data in. The internet's fattest tubes all intersect in various places in the USA. Getting data from Australia to Argentina without that data passing through a single US wire is possible, but the routing system isn't set up to make that something you can control.

Each packet of data you send out gets to it's destination by hopping from provider to provider. At each provider, the routers can only pass a packet on to whichever of their neighbours is closest to your destination. No single router or other device has a map of the internet and can determine in advance a preferred route. It's just a very fast and clever type of pass-the-parcel.

Changes could be made to allow you to specify a route that doesn't touch a US server, but it would require establishing a standard and then having that implemented in the millions of routers that the internet runs on. It may even be a lot simpler than that, I haven't worked with routers for 15 years. There might be a good business opportunity in providing encrypted VPNs that are guaranteed somehow to never use US wires. But the fact is, the entire internet infrastructure is so US-centric that it will take many years to rearchitect it to be properly international.


@NZTaniwha - you're right about packet transmission, of course. But packets can be (and with https, ssh and similar are) encrypted. I suspect the rumours about a recent NSA decryption breakthrough are intimidatory disinformation - while they may have the processing power to force-decrypt (code break) a few selected communications I doubt they can do it wholesale to everything that is encrypted.

So the real vulnerability is at the servers which store unencrypted data, such as webmail servers used by both interlocutors without [by definition unencrypted] smtp. Once you use smtp, the ordinary email [totally unencrypted] protocol, you emails are less confidential than an old-fashioned postcard, without the advantage of a glossy naughty photo on one side - unless you encrypt the text with PGP or similar.

Routing outside the US doesn't solve the problem - the NSA has very good legal and "illegal" listening facilities. They, with the US Navy, are rumoured to be very skilled at tapping undersea cables at almost any depth. The only solution is, apparently, very strong encryption and [unencrypted] data media physically inaccessible to the NSA.


@TerryCollmann - I'm kind of jelous of them really - it makes the random horrors of the world make more sense, doesn't it?

The trouble is that when you look at the way the world really works you realise that no one really has any answers, every success humans have is built on thousands of sometimes horrific accidents. Humans need narrative to survive, all of our moral codes and ideas about life are based on the narratives we are told as children, and for very good reason - they build social cohesion and keep us safe, but the world really contains no narrative, things go wrong in unexpected ways and we don't like so we look for some great evil plan behind it, these guys like conspiracy theories because they make it simple. The government did it to make us comply.

In the mean time you get another bunch of nuts who think that it is their job to make you comply, so you get people in the NSA doing stupid stuff that almost always goes wrong. I'd recommend meditation for everyone 30 minutes a day and you start to realise what's really going on - the plants are growing and the air is moving - that's about it really

Dirk Wright

@AhBrightWings - We've been subjected to ever greater central control since the American Civil War, and it's been supported by the Prussian school system we adopted. They have not heeded Ben Franklin's statement ""They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Our fantastic experiment in self government has essentially failed.


@Andrei Cazacu - In Orwell's dystopia, the people all knew they were being watched. The watching (and the memory hole history control, and the changing reasons/pronouncements of gov't) had just become commonplace matter of fact for the people. Only a few (like Winston Smith) used their minds to think about what it all meant. (Of course anyone who was aware was eventually introduced to Room 101, but that's for another discussion.)

The idea is that we become habituated to surveillance and control, and that habituation/familiarity allows the nightmare dystopia to become obscured from our minds. It becomes familiar. It just is. And like anything that just is, most people -- sheep -- stop thinking about it and what it means.

Government has used Orwell's 1984 as a roadmap. People should look at that map and be warned of what waits at the end

Andrei Cazacu

But my (poorly made) point was that Orwell wrote specifically about 20th century fascism and communism. Society today is not Orwellian in that sense. 1984 shows a completely hermetic society with very little access to information. Today we have too much, some might say. I prefer to see it as having enough information to not buy into official lies. We have the means to overcome the situation, Winston did not.

I didn't accuse anyone of 'bleating,' and I'd have to take it back if I had. I simply made the point that we know so much more than we need to take action, I would love to see it happen. Granted that I don't see a clear course of action myself just yet.


@fickleposter 06 June 2013 11:33pm.

Or, the "terrorism" thing is all just a ruse, and it's really about stopping challenges to the system of aristocrat-mediated political power and financial supremacy.


@TristanJakobHoff 06 June 2013 11:50pm. Get cifFix for Firefox.

Never underestimate traffic analysis as an effective screening tool. There isn't anyone watching you, perhaps, but we now know there is always a machine watching you to see whether you should have a person watching you.


@ThinkOrDie -

One thing's for certain, bye bye Google homepage. Hello Bing.

Bing is from Microsoft, you know the very first company to sign up. Switching from Google to Bing is like deciding you'd rather be stung by a Japanese hornet than a regular wasp.


@Slimby - You don't think they're gonna get people to read it, do you? They've built a data centre in Utah, with thousands of cubic feet of data storage machines, its own 65 megawatt powerplant, fast computers to datamine the trasffic it collects - which is supposed to be everything that goes through the internet.

"William Binney was a senior NSA crypto-mathematician largely responsible for automating the agency's worldwide eavesdropping network. A tall man with strands of black hair across the front of his scalp and dark, determined eyes behind thick-rimmed glasses, the 68-year-old spent nearly four decades breaking codes and finding new ways to channel billions of private phone calls and email messages from around the world into the NSA's bulging databases. As chief and one of the two cofounders of the agency's Signals Intelligence Automation Research Center, Binney and his team designed much of the infrastructure that's still likely used to intercept international and foreign communications.

Sitting in a restaurant not far from NSA headquarters, the place where he spent nearly 40 years of his life, Binney held his thumb and forefinger close together. "We are, like, that far from a turnkey totalitarian state," he says."



You would probably treat this more seriously if you took a moment to consider just how much can be learned from just a set of a few billion {originating_station, answering_station, call_time, call_length, call_state} tuples per day.

It can broadly reveal the nature of your contacts -- day job, moonlighting customer, mistress, pro domme, fellow activist etc. -- and reveal tight-knit circles of friends, fellows of a fraternal order, journalists' contacts, cricket clubs, cricket clubs that are front businesses, etc.

I believe the USG is far more worried about those activists than terrorists right now. If they actually feared terrorism enough to stop it, they wouldn't be provoking people on a daily basis in SW Asia and Africa.


Don't forget that there is all sorts of powerful soft/hardware out there which can switch on the camera and mic on your computer without your knowledge.

The CIA has stated that they want and intend to get EVERYTHING all electronic and voice data everywhere. For them the holey grail is real time data so they can read your grandma's receipt for napalm as she types it. Uh oh, I used a bad word there will be a knock on the door soon.

@tdlx - Look at what data Facebook records:

If you're a citizen of the EU you can demand to see this data.

Get your Data!
Make an Access Request at Facebook!

According to European data protection law every individual has the right to get a copy of all personal data a company holds about him (right to access). This law is applicable to Facebook too. Every user with a residence outside of the US and Canada has a contract with "Facebook Ireland Limited", based in Dublin, Ireland and has a right to access therefore.
(Again: Anyone outside of the US or Canada has the right to access!)

By sending an access request you get an idea about the use of your personal data by Facebook. It also shows Facebook that users care about their data and privacy.

Austrian Max Schrems demanded his data and this is what it looks like after *one year* of "membership".

The onion did a hilarious spoof:
Facebook is part of the CIA- Amazing!


@Derek Seymour - What they're doing is building the world's largest data centre with its own power station, to harvest all the info flowing through the entire internet (seriously!) and then using software tools such as Palantir and Riot to identify patterns of communications between people, build up graphs of interactions/communciations/transactions, and generally go for what was termed - in the Bush era - "Total Information Awareness".

The general concept is called "data mining" -


@StealthKitten - link for NSA data centre -


@zbzdhbafr - Well it's at least possible that non-US companies will be less cooperative. Also, its easier for authorities to get one email provider (for example) with ten million subscribers to cooperate then a hundred email providers with ten thousand subscribers each to all cooperate.

I'll just have to try and find better alternatives to their services. I'm happy enough without social networking sites, and there are potentially decent alternatives to Google/Yahoo search in the form of DuckDuckGo and StartPage. Microsoft and Apple can be avoided pretty much completely by using free software, possibly Skype can be replaced with free software too. Basically avoiding anything described as "cloud something" is a good idea. Some of it's handy but none of it has proved indispensable for me.

Its easy enough to do this in my private life, unfortunately lots of businesses, universities etc. have migrated to Google for email and other services.



That's actually a really good question, which could reveal something about the intended use of the system. We'd need to know whether tiny full-service business telcos are also under sealed orders to forward all metadata.

If they aren't, that suggests that it's acceptable to the system design to miss a few people here and there, which suggests that they are trawling for activists and dissidents, not terrorists. That would explain all the pro-Obama instigation in comment areas around the Internet, and also explain why strictly domestic communications aren't being specifically excluded as the law would ordinarily provide.


@TimBrog 06 June 2013 11:25pm.

That would be silly. That file is probably watermarked six ways to Sunday. Posting the entire file would quite effectively compromise the source by turning a few server-days of correlating and a few staff-weeks of investigation and case-building into a few minutes with a hex editor and a date with a rubber hose.


@MonaHol - I'm holding onto the yearly donation to Glenn's work this year until I see if he needs it for bail after writing this article. : )

But seriously, if they can go after Assange, Manning, Kirakaou and other whistleblowers, a Fox reporter and the handful of other reporters . . . there's no reason to think they might not take a run at Glenn for this one.

So I'm hoping they don't but holding onto my spare cash in case it's needed to spring GG from the pokey.


This really is extraordinary. Internet data, telephone data. Throw in cctv cameras, satellite imaging, credit card data and, unless you live underground with no telecoms (eating food you bought with cash, wearing a balaclava), the government can follow every move you make.


@GreenKnighht 06 June 2013 11:26pm.

The sad thing is, many Americans will discount and ignore this without reading it.

You know nothing. Most Americans are pissed out this, not ignoring it. And it's all over the news here.

And the companies, I'd always feared US companies were this unreliable, but this takes the cake.

And those US companies you feared were unreliable were complying with the law, and were no doubt unhappy about it. As much as you Brits love government, you should at least see how complying with the law isn't something that is usually discretionary.

Try to keep the blame where it belongs.


@joepubliq 06 June 2013 11:27pm.

I notice there are a lot of smart-answers out there making wisecracks about the incompetence of the government. I find myself half wondering whether this is not so exceptionally important that they are using their Abraxas tool to introduce doubt and uncertainty into online conversations.

Or, put another way: there is no (+1, Funny) moderation here. Your efforts may be misdirected.



Get cifFix Add-ons for Firefox

"And they aren't protecting the people. They are protecting an Economy--corporations & profits. In which case, it makes perfect sense that the People would be seen as the enemy."

FINALLY. Good to hear I'm not the only one who saw that pattern in the past 4.5 years.

I do have to concur with longpete -- changing the player won't change the script much.


@wobinidan -

The only surprising thing about this is that it took the media this long to report it

Some have recently suggested we might start hearing more critical stories about Obama's infringements on civil liberties, as the press themselves have just found themselves a target for the first time:

Media Gets Targeted by Obama, Discovers No One Cares Except the Media

Apparently the Associated Press and Fox News recently found themselves on the business end of the Obama Administration's hostility toward journalists. The AP learned the Justice Department searched troves of their phone records. Meantime, Fox News' James Rosen had his personal email account scoured by the DOJ and he's being called an "aider and abettor" and "co-conspirator" in a criminal case regarding classified document leaks.

So now, all of a magical sudden, the news media in this country seem to be waking up. After years of either promoting or ignoring George W. Bush's, then Obama's constant infringements on the civil liberties of average Americans, the media suddenly think it's a scandal now that they're the butt of it. But while the AP and Fox News aren't the first, they've never caused a stir about the U.S. government's abuse of journalists until it hit them in the face.


Giving the intelligence agencies direct access is a better approach than what is proposed in Britain where the ISPs are supposed to hold data on users communications for years that the government can then ask to see.

If communications data needs to be collected to protect against terrorism it is far safer inside an organisation like NSA or GCHQ with secure systems and cleared staff than on servers run by an ISP.


@tomedinburgh - And that was the opinion from Langley and Quantico.

This actually makes the UK fudge look like a good idea.

Oh and please stop waving the word "terrorism" around like a flag that justifies any and every abuse of power and privacy. It is scaring fewer and fewer people by the day. I'd rather take my chances with the terrorists than the government, any government


@CrypticMirror - GCHQ is in the UK. The NSA is not at Langley or Quantico. Two terrorist attacks recently occurred in the U.S. and the UK. I am pretty sure those killed didn't consider it either a waving flag or safety among the terrorists who killed them. Report Share this comment on Twitter Share this comment on Facebook


@junren65 07 June 2013 2:37am.

Wow, call logs going to them for *years* and they still couldn't stop it.

Malfunctioning systems are quickly replaced when they fail to meet their actual objective, which in government often differs from the stated objective. Therefore, one can generally infer the actual intent of a system by assuming that a surviving system is providing desirable functions to those who decided to create it. For example, PPACA = handout for the financial sector; health care delivery was never a primary aim hence the striking lack of attention in getting that part of it right. The mandate sure got nailed down quickly, though!

So, it's presumed that one of the purposes of the loose association standard for these general warrants is to enable just the broad traffic capture and analysis that has been going on for seven years. To what end? I have no idea.


@junren65 - and in both cases, the perpetrators were already known to the security services.

This means that the kind of blanket surveillance that we now know is being carried out was pretty much useless at preventing these attacks.

Indeed, one of the UK perpetrators was pursued by our security services to work for them, ffs.


@tomedinburgh - The problem is that they're collecting it in the first place. The UK plan was in a way better because there were firm time limits on how long it had to be kept and no company would keep that much data for free unless they had to. Also since they'd have to ask to see the data any mining they did and the scale of it would quickly become obvious.

What's far worse about this is the indiscriminate hoovering up of data. Sure there are protections on it today, for US citizens, in theory. Mostly just because they couldn't use it in a legal case against you. That doesn't mean they can't use the data to confirm or even develop suspicions then find other ways to prove them. It doesn't mean they can't use the data extra-judicially against 'foreign threats' to anything broadly defined as 'national security'. It also doesn't mean the rules on how they can use the data won't change in 5, 10 or more years time all the while they're quietly collecting everything they can lay their hands on.


@GerardArduaine 06 June 2013 11:28pm.

Where are Anonymous when you need them?

On Twitter, but I haven't checked since earlier this week. Report Share this comment on Twitter Share this comment on Facebook


@GerardArduaine - Cracking passwords over the net is in fact very difficult and usually takes a very long time. The genius hacker concept is unfortunately just media hype and is analogous to suggesting bankers are that talented with the markets that they are worth $$. Most thing known to anonymous are known by most anti-hacking security employees who have all read the same thing.

Guardian journalists who perpetuate myths like "hacker breaks internet" make us all think anonymous can do way more than they can. Although I admit, its not science fiction the genius hacker concept is possible just he's not likely to have such grand and idealist social morals as well.



And it made how much difference to stopping the Boston Bombers?


Dictionary of Doublespeak

Terrorism defn. n. any political activity, dissent, protest or non-compliance that official goons, spooks or thugs don't like the look of. Can include association by an otherwise compliant citizen with someone that official goons, spooks or thugs don't like the look of. Association can include being in the near vicinity of said terrorists.


@tdlx -

And it made how much difference to stopping 9/11* ?


Yet still we'll here screeching about "Keeping us safe!" and "Think of the children!"

What's the incline on our learning curve?


-------------- *The FBI had data on every single hijacker but was so busy spying on so many people it didn't know what it had...too much noise


The best thing about this is not only are the US spying on their own citizens, there is a quite a good chance that this system allows the Russians, the Israelis, the Chinese and everyone else who has demonstrated the ability to get agents inside the US security services to spy on US citizens as well.

Well done Dubya and Barrack!



This makes Chinese industrial espionage look like a note on the back of a napkin, whereas the US industrial espionage is every library in North America.

Think of all the non-US national secrets and corporate secrets the US government has obtained by having secret access to private accounts of foreign nationals passing through servers and networks owned by US companies and their foreign subsidiaries.

We worry about the Chinese.

But it is the USA that is doing 99% of the snooping apparently.


@GreenKnighht - This article isn't about that. It may happen (the Germans kicked the NSA out in the 1990s because of concerns about possible industrial espionage and the E.U. has long had concerns about Echelon), but this story is about personal data.


All in the name of saving lives, we're told--as countless numbers die every day from poor nutrition, smoking, lack of adequate health care, car accidents, homelessness, you name it. The truth is, there is big money to be made for our corporations in implementing a police state, while actually improving human lives means only profit lost to taxation. No system isn't permanent, and this will all end badly. I just can't decide if I'd rather live to see the violent backlash, or live out the rest of my days in impotent but peaceful frustration.


The real question, I suppose, is whether this confirmation of what many marginalized and demonized commentators have been saying for years will produce anything more substantive and effective than a few days/weeks/months of outrage in comment threads like this.

I'd like to think it will energize larger numbers of the populace into some kind of sustained activism to reclaim the power which, according to the Constitution is rightfully theirs. I'd like to think that, but I'm not at all sure that's where this will go.

One thing for sure, without a shitstorm of sustained protest committed to the long haul, nothing will change. Well, strike that, because yes it will change - it will get worse.

We're about to find out if people really give a shit, or if they can continue to be distracted by kittens and celebrity side-boobs.


@gunnison -

In my opinion, the US population (for the most part) couldn't give a toss about this as long as they can go to the mall, eat junk food, and live in houses they cannot afford. It's capitalism, it's perfect, what could go wrong?


This isn't news to me, or anyone else who has been watching - for at least a decade.

I cringe everytime I see a "log in using your Google or Facebook or Yahoo account" (take heed Guardian).

The ultimate aim of U.S. intelligence is to have a record and profile of everyone on the planet who uses a phone or the internet.With the rise of computing power this massive storage of information has made it more viable as time has passed. Those massive ultra-secret ,multi-billion dollar complexes being built right now in the U.S. (in various locales easily pinpointed) are obviously a part of this world-wide blanket surveillance. Do you think our non-U.S. allied governments would object?

You can bet my profile in their data-base leads with the first designation Hostile because my online rants over the years are typically anti-American, at least in their opinion.


Hardly a surprise, but brilliant work to find the evidence.

Amongst other things, this neatly explains why Ryan Fogle's instructions to his would-be Russian agent included communications via gmail - NSA could monitor activity/logins associated with the account.

"Ad targeting in Gmail is fully automated, and no humans read your email or Google " - hands up, those who still believe that? Report Share this comment on Twitter Share this comment on Facebook


@dbmee 06 June 2013 11:36pm.

" Ad targeting in Gmail is fully automated, and no humans read your email or Google " - hands up, those who still believe that?

Well, I certainly believe the first part. Do you really think that employees of Google read my email to determine which ad to place at the top of the page? If they are then they are doing a piss poor job of it, because not one ad I've seen has anything to do with the content of my emails.

However, they do relate quite a bit to my location and search requests. I don't see why you think a computer can't do that. Report Share this comment on Twitter Share this comment on Facebook


@DeleteThisPost - Perhaps I should have been clearer: of course I don't believe for one moment that Google employee's are gawking at every individuals email in order to place adverts, or anything else.

My point is this: gmail content is already trawled through automatically - Google says this is simply for the targeted advertising, nothing else.

That in itself is troubling enough for a lot of people - that their private correspondence would be analysed for any reason, by any third party.

The very same keyword/phrase search methodology could/would be utilised by intelligence gathering organisations, or by Google at their behest.

Based on these leaks - it appears that if one were to say the wrong words and a (human!) third party may just wind up reading your mail.


The USA is a police state. Anybody who thinks it'll get better is welcome to buy a bridge from me -- I'll even grant a discount.

Obama is a puppet who's WTB -- worse than Bush. Kerry, his secretary of state, is DTB -- dumber than Bush

The largest debtor nation in history has no future except to keep losing wars because it must use its armaments before they become obsolete. Then it'll default on its sovereign debt

American voters are sheep who elect halfwits. Both political parties are corrupt, wedded as they are to pouring taxpayer funds into megabanks' coffers Report Share this comment on Twitter Share this comment on Facebook


@ArthurMometer 06 June 2013 11:37pm.

I'm not any happier with this story than the next American, but you really need to read some history before you start tossing around the term police state.

Because I don't think you have any idea what actual police states have looked like in the past.

p.s. By the way, as far as I know no one in the US has ever been arrested for making "offensive" comments on Facebook or predicting the outcome of a trial on their Twitter account, or been in a long-term relationship with an undercover cop who eventually disappeared into the night without an explanation.

By your reasoning it is the UK that is a police state.


@ShatnersFinestHour -

Possibly one of the worst abuses of human rights in the developed world since the fall of East Germany and you are whinging about the graphics? Priorities in order, are they?

I'm whinging about what little has been presented to back this powerpoint presentation up so far, other than "it's genuine, no really".

Again, little different from any crank site I could care to mention. Until that changes, I'm not taking it especially seriously.

And really, one of the worst human rights abuses? They read your email, not hauled you off to the gulag. Get your own priorities in order first.


oh and I'd like to give a warm welcome to our friends in the clandestine services listening in.. how are we doing this evening.. working hard keeping us safe. ? Report Share this comment on Twitter Share this comment on Facebook


@zukileisure -


They're all having a mutually satisfying, international congress at a monster "mass debate".

Christ you only have to read the drivel exchanged between so called "intelligence" agencies discussing Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.

I'm convinced they're like most of the kids over at Google, all just out of university, know nothing, no real world experience, green as grass and bloody wet behind the ears. Report Share this comment on Twitter Share this comment on Facebook


@IanCPurdie - Those "kids" remind me of the character in Graham Greene's classic Vietnam novel "The Quiet American" - typical small town nice kid, clean-cut, dead earnest in his "mission" to bring "democracy" to still unfortunate countries that never heard about it, dangerous in his inocence , and ends up planting a bomb in a popular cafe in war-torn Saigon - still convinced that he did the right thing for his country.


Am I paranoid or does all this the have a last-days-of-Rome feel about it: wealth is being accumulated by the wealthiest; we are on the brink of environmental disaster; raw materials for the production of energy and for manufacturing are becoming scarcer; our governments are collecting more and more data about how we live our lives in a way that Stalin could only have dreamed of; and dissenters whistleblowers and journalists are being dealt with by said governments in an increasingly authoritarian manner (particularly the US, but where they lead...).

I honestly believe that Western capitalism as we know it is in decline and something new and sinister is about to take its place, something more akin to the Chinese system, but with a veneer of democracy. Or do I sound like David Icke.


EFF showed in 2005? that ATT had a splitter going off from their company to the govt. All communications went to the govt. as well as to where they were intended. (This info thanks to a whistleblower.) The govt. tended the room but ATT had complete knowledge that this was happening. The likelihood of Mr. "if you don't have something to hide, you don't have to worry" (google) or for that matter for most of the tech companies not co-operating is 0.00% (IMO). They don't have a back door. That's for the servants (costumers). The govt. uses the main entrance.

Here's a phrase that speaks volumes to me: "There were too many email accounts to be practical to seek Fisas for all." This isn't a description of law enforcement. It's a description of mass surveillance.

Equally creepy is Feinstein telling people how much they should learn to love govt. surveillance and the stripping of our lawful rights. The administration and its toadies are in full back-fill mode. They need to make certain people know this is for their own good. I'm hoping people will reject this propaganda and start telling this govt. NO!

I cannot thank enough the people who got this story and the others out.

Onemore Fakefbpage

I've worked in the financial services industry for 20 years, in the software trade. I currently work as an information security engineer.

In the past, I designed a system for storing & analyzing all the credit card transactions for North America, for the last 6 months, for one of the top 3 credit card companies. I also worked on a Business Intelligence process, related to targeted mailings (the envelope stuffers you got in yrou envelope, with the credit card bill).

HAVING phone information for everyone in the US is like a farmer looking out at a 20 acre pasture. Somewhere, there is/may be a single blade of grass that is coated with poison. It will kill the cow that eats it, if he turns his cattle out into the field.

Do you think he cares about every single blade of grass ? Sure, he can see them. But given a dozen lifetime & he wouldn't have the time to inspect every single one.

Having all the information means NOTHING, without the means and the motivation to inspect it. What it needs is some OTHER piece of information, such as an overheard conversation about a planned bombing. THAT would potentially lead to scanning the data, for all phone calls made to.from the person overheard talking about the attack.

Once the crime has been committed, it's too late to start gathering data then.


@Onemore Fakefbpage - Have you heard of the Magna Carta or Western Civilization? The US Constitution? Bill of Rights?

I am also in your field, and if you don't see what's coming, then you have been in the financial sector too long. The people with that data aren't processing CC xactions cutie pie. They have guns, prisons, and a Communist Dictator as their leader.


@Onemore Fakefbpage -

This. ^^^^^^

I work in IT, and just because archiving happens, it does not mean that there is some little nerd listening/reading to your every call/email/IM.

Think about it...hundreds of millions of people post and call every day.

You would need a workforce of 200000 people to dig into each trace!

Unless you are guilty of a are nothing more than paranoid.


@Onemore Fakefbpage -

Once the crime has been committed, it's too late to start gathering data then.

Yet curiously gathering evidence after the crime has been commited has been the traditional method of dealing with criminal behaviour for over a century and we seem to have got along just fine.

Having all the information means NOTHING, without the means and the motivation to inspect it.

And what if those motivations change? You presume your government will always be either benevolent or competent. Are you comfortable having such a wealth of stored data available in perpetuity to whomever may potentialy wish to misuse it in the future? Report Share this comment on Twitter Share this comment on Facebook


@Onemore Fakefbpage -

I do believe that the NSA is way beyond what even the financial sector in "security" matters

[Jun 09, 2013] Could the Verizon-NSA Metadata Collection Be a Stealth Political Kickback

June 8, 2013 | naked capitalism

Joe :

June 8, 2013 at 7:14 am

Searching via Google v.s. the database and methods the government has is completely different. Unless proven otherwise, at this point I assume the government has vast records of all of our data; every bit of it. Besides your calling records they more than likely have all our financial records, driver's license, social security, tax records, travel records and any data we have been foolish enough to share with any internet company. I would assume they have every bit of information that ever touches a computer somewhere.

Why does Google endlessly insist I give them my phone number to tie to my Gmail account (which I have always refused by the way)?

The NSA is collecting data at the source. If I was the NSA, I would be identifying the data as it is created and sorting it in real time rather than later.

The NSA has tools you do not have, i.e. face recognition software.

It appears that all the internet companies, telcos, banks, etc… are cooperating 100% with the government and have surrendered all customer data or have willingly looked the other way so that they have a plausible case of deniability.

... ... ...

diane :

Searching via Google v.s. the database and methods the government has is completely different.

Exactly, the point of connection for computers inside of one's residence is predominantly a phone line, and the point of connection while outside the home is predominantly a mobile phone, one's workplace, or a library (many of which now assign permanent computer use 'pin' numbers to the person's library card.

And then there is the facial, voice, and print recognition, which was, as usual, introduced via the publically traded corporations and larger, family owned, non-traded corporations.

And that's not even to mention the social security numbers attached to what's being swept up.

diane :

Lastly, I believe it is highly inappropriate to post a picture of someone who does not at all expect to have such an intimate (shared among presumed friends) picture of themselves highlighted (the photo of Kathryn, above), regarding an international issue about someone else with her name, especially without the one who posted it providing a close up photo of themselves, if they actually believe that is okay.

As bad as Newspapers are, they used to have to ask permission to put someone in such a spotlight, without their knowledge.

reslez :

You seem to be under the misimpression that anyone who matters cares about individual privacy. Peons have no privacy (and should get used to it). As for we peons, yes it is very bad and wrong of us to dare turn the spotlight on anyone else. We might invade the privacy of someone who matters!

borkman :


I've worked with companies seeking funding for state of the art face recognition techoloogy. Its false positive and negative rate is high with oridinary pictures.

You need dead on (face straight at the camera) images to do well with nothing interfering with the capture of the key measurement points.

reslez :

Yes, since commercial-grade algorithms are currently somewhat bad at facial recognition, we should stop worrying about this topic completely. Set aside the fact that, at first, algorithms were also somewhat bad at text recognition until CAPTCHA came along and gave them a financial incentive to get really good at it. So good that many humans now have trouble passing CAPTCHA challenges. So good that police cruisers are now routinely equipped with devices that record all license plates in their vicinity.

Since we know that technology never improves and there is no financial incentive from the government to improve these facial recognition algorithms, we should run along and not worry our pretty little heads about them. Our overlords have only the best intentions (to profit from and control us).

sgt_doom :

Excellent points, Joe, most excellent and cogent points.

The American gov't, along with China, Iran and many others (officially at least 160 gov'ts) purchased the state of the art automated intelligence platform, the Trovicor Monitoring Center, which is able to access healthcare databases, DNA databases, intercept telephoney, email on the fly and allow editing and continued transmission, deep packet inspection and a host of other intrusion software, while automatically dispatching the appropriate teams (kidnap, wiretapping or kill) upon receipt of specific information.

I suspect we're not even seeing the highest smallest tip of that submerged iceberg of penetration.

pdlane :

The author either has a short memory or purposely ignores facts: But,, it is nothing new and has been going on in one form or another since the NSA was created back in 1949.

In October 2003 AT&T technician Mark Klein discovered newly installed NSA data-mining equipment in a "secret room" at a company facility in San Francisco. No one knows how far back in time this sweeping has been going on, but we do know that it expanded under Bush/Cheney with the Patriot Act.

carol :

"Why doesn't any corporate tool ever go to jail?"

Well, apart from the CEO of a company that refused to spy for the NSA post 'patriot' act, as I read in the comment section here yesterday.

see e.g.

In the current Prism situation, the only one going to jail will be the whistleblower

Mark P. :

June 8, 2013 at 8:01 pm

[1] It is happening at all the other carriers.

Overall, sixty-seventy percent of the world's electronic communications go through Anglo-American routing stations and is scooped up by the intelligence services of those countries.

[2] You should also pay closer attention to the role of Amdocs, the largest phone-billing services company in the world and ultimately based in Israel, although they've covered their tracks on that since 2006, which was the last time media and sheeple got excited about communication surveillance –

"Amdocs Limited is a provider of software and services for communications, media and entertainment industry service providers. The company develops, implements and manages software and services for business support systems (BSS), including billing, customer relationship management (CRM), and for operations support systems (OSS). Amdocs is the market leader in Telecommunication Billing Services which forms the major strength of the company. Its products consist of software developed to provide customer experience systems functionality for service providers. The software systems support the customer lifecycle: revenue management, customer management, service and resource management and service delivery.

"Its traditional clients are telecommunications "Tier-1″ and "Tier-2″ providers such as AT&T, BT Group, Sprint, T-Mobile, Vodafone, Bell Canada, Telus, Rogers Communications, Telekom Austria, Cellcom, Comcast, DirecTV, Elisa Oyj, TeliaSonera and O2-Ireland.

The company also offers outsourced customer service and data center operations. Headquartered in Chesterfield, Missouri, Amdocs has more than 20,000 employees and serves customers in more than fifty countries (the Registered office of the company is in the Island of Guernsey). "

Lambert Strether :

June 8, 2013 at 8:43 pm

@Mark P. We "don't know it" in the sense that this is the only court [sic!!!] order we have and it applies to Verizon only. Personally, I think it's extremely likely they're all doing it, but I wouldn't claim to know that. (Remember, we have a secret [quasi-]legal regimen; even if we do know they were doing it in 2006, we don't know they're doing it now.)

I'd also argue that one reason to be precise in our claims is to encourage further whistleblowers to come forward, and more leaking to be done.

washunate :

More than suspect. The Guardian author, who bizarrely doesn't seem to be named in this post, is Glenn Greenwald, one of the foremost critics of the Bush/Obama spying regime. Back in 2008 he was all over the first go round of FISA amendments and Obama's support of spying and telecom immunity. The Obots have been attacking Greenwald for years for speaking out about this.

handgrip :

RT interviews William Binney NSA "stellar wind" whisleblower.

Jessica :

What this seems to boil down to is that they can't put you on their radar using massive amounts of dirty data. But if for any reason, you get on their radar, they can focus in on what they need and violate your privacy pretty thoroughly. Although not necessarily much more effectively or efficiently than traditional police Red Squads. Also, their incompetence can cut both ways. I see no guarantee that the day won't come when they decide to harass, for example, everyone they have cell phone records of you calling frequently. So your poor mechanic gets dragged in too. These are after all the folks who have drones shooting at first responders and then at the funerals that result.

diptherio :

Interesting article. The scenario presented is plausible, but the issue for me is still, now that NSA has all this data on all of us, it can be used in a "sanely-scoped" way for whatever the PTB decide. This is a rather disturbing thought for activists, who have already been targeted and infiltrated by the gov't. I imagine there is no warrant required to sift through data that your agency has already collected, is there? And isn't that a convenient way to get around those pesky 4th amendment protections…

I read with interest the information regarding semantic impedance. It lends support to my practice of using pseudonyms on-line whenever possible and fudging on demographic questions (Hulu and facebook both think I'm Latino, which makes for a more amusing ad experience).

But I have to say, this endnote is total BS:

NOTE: American voters bear responsibility for the loss of civil liberties by not voting leadership into office that would repeal the Patriot Act.

Well, here in MT we elected Jon Tester, largely on the basis of his firm opposition to the PATRIOT Act and his promises to "work hard to restore our Constitutional liberties." Of course, once elected he shut the hell up about the PATRIOT Act and then went and voted for the NDAA with it's expansion of Presidential fiat to the whole world and everyone on it. Blaming the "American voters" for a rigged political system is some pretty low, and downright ignorant, bullshit, imnsho. If voting could change anything (fundamental), it would be illegal…didn't this dude get the memo?

Why for the NSA every call matters by Mark Urban

BBC News

The revelation that the National Security Agency (NSA), America's eavesdropping organisation, had asked mobile phone operator Verizon for phone information relating to millions of customers highlights the growing importance of "communications data" in intelligence and forensics work.

Critical to an understanding of these techniques, which have been in use by the NSA on a large scale since 2005, and which the British security authorities would like to employ on the same scale, is that these methods do not in the main relate to what is being said, simply to the details of communications such as which phone number was called by a particular subscriber and for how long.

It was in Iraq, acting in support of the secret Joint Special Operations Command, that the NSA started to record the details of every phone call made in the country. They did not have enough translators to listen to the vast majority of these calls or to assess their possible value, that was not the point.

What they found was that within months their bulk database of call details would allow them to break open terrorist networks with dramatic speed.

Landing by helicopter to raid a target, teams from Delta Force or the SAS would find telephones, sometimes prized from the hands of dead men dressed in suicide vests.

The number might never have been registered before as one of interest, but within seconds NSA experts could discover every call made on it for months before, mapping the dead bomber's connections with other individuals. This was only possible because of the blanket recording of all call details.

The use of what special operators in Iraq referred to simply as "the database" quickly grew so refined that software was developed to map networks (spotting that some numbers relevant to only one member, for example, might be family members) and that a portable, laptop-sized, terminal tapping into it started to be carried on raids.

By 2006 teams of special operators using the terminal could hit one member of an al-Qaeda cell, and hunched over the computer in a half destroyed Iraqi house, find other members through the database, fix the location of these phones and perform a "bounce on", jumping back into their helicopters to raid the next target.

Seeing the extraordinary effects of these techniques in the field, the NSA sought to apply them to domestic communications from 2006 onwards. Since the recording of this data does not include the content of the conversations, it can be extended to US citizens more easily and does not require a warrant.

It soon became apparent to people at the eavesdropping organisation that collecting information on this scale, relating to tens of millions of calls each day, and then keeping it for months or even years would require a vast new data centre to store the information.

So it began work on its $2bn Utah facility, where a ribbon cutting ceremony was held this week.

British intelligence people working in Iraq with the UK special operators (the task forces codenamed Black, Knight, and Spartan) saw these techniques and were duly impressed. They too wanted to apply them in the domestic counter-terrorist or criminal arenas.

It had in fact been the practise for many years (since the 1984 Telecommunications Act, for example) for British operators to keep customers' "billing information" for access by the government and for this to be possible without the same level of legal proof or suspicion as eavesdropping on the calls themselves.

The moves to put broad categories of "communications data" into the so called "snoopers' charter" represents an evolution of this.

Comments (29)


I believe NSA surveillance powers (the dream of any left or right wing dictator) at this point have become an existential challenge to American freedom!


The US has a written Constitution, the Fourth amendment to which requires not just judicial approval but probable cause for search and seizure. Since there can be no "probable cause" for mass surveillance, it violates the Constitution, and is thus illegal.


There is nothing stopping the "authorities" to go from monitoring to whom calls are made to looking at the content of the calls themselves. It's more than likely that this is already happening. Since one knows certain people in these agencies, one observes that they are not always the sort of people one would trust. In other words, who is to determine who is trustworthy enough to have info.


This makes complete sense and is not a snooper's charter. You are not spying on communications, you are observing communications networks. Most of us just phone Aunt Molly, or bro & sis & a few friends, so what have we got to worry about.


So these people would find some likely looking chap, kill him, get his phone number, work out who he had been speaking to, get back in the helicopter and go and kill them too.

No judge, no jury, no trial, just some error-filled database that convicts and sentences you based on a supposed link between two phones.

Presumably, this is what our "security services" would like to introduce here?

Siren Song

But remember one thing, people voluntarily post reams of personal data about themselves on sites like facebook or willingly give out data to companies when signing up for loyalty programmes etc etc. Data companies mine info and buy and sell your details all the time to target you with advertising and the like, why is this a surprise then that governments are watching you closely?

David M

Seems like a pretty good use of data to me. It's minimally invasive, but seems like a powerful analytical tool for dealing with an ongoing and sophisticated threat. If you're going to complain about big brother, are you prepared not to complain if one of your friends or family members is killed because security agencies were not allowed to use such tools? Can't have it both ways.

Leading Edge Boomer

To continue: Data mining techniques can identify "strongly connected nodes" in a graph with numbers as nodes, and metadata on links pointing to other nodes. If a known bad guy is known as node in a subset, the other nodes deserve interest. Tons of harmless subsets are already pruned away. A node in a subset that is a foreign number draws more initial interest. All speculation of course.

Neil Kitson

Does Mark Urban do public relations for the NSA? The possibility that this data collection is illegal and unconstitutional seems of no interest. The usefulness of such data collection was demonstrated in Iraq.

[Jun 08, 2013] Total Information Awareness

June 07, 2013

Dan Little:

Total information awareness?, Understanding Society: I'm finding myself increasingly distressed at this week's revelations about government surveillance of citizens' communications and Internet activity. First was the revelation in the Guardian of a wholesale FISA court order to Verizon to provide all customer "meta-data" for a three-month period -- and the clarification that this order is simply a renewal of orders that have been in place since 2007. (One would certainly assume that there are similar orders for other communications providers.) And commentators are now spelling out how comprehensive this data is about each of us -- who we call, who those people call, when, where, … This comprehensive data collection permits the mother of all social network analysis projects -- to reconstruct the widening circles of persons with whom person X is associated. This is its value from an intelligence point of view; but it is also a dark, brooding risk to the constitutional rights and liberties of all of us.

Second is the even more shocking disclosure -- also in the Guardian -- of an NSA program called PRISM that claims (based on the secret powerpoint training document published by the Guardian) to have reached agreements with the major Internet companies to permit direct government access to their servers, without the intermediary of warrants and requests for specific information. (The companies have denied knowledge of such a program; but it's hard to see how the Guardian document could be a simple fake.) And the document claims that the program gives the intelligence agencies direct access to users' emails, videos, chats, search histories, and other forms of Internet activity.

Among the political rights that we hold most basic are the rights of political expression and association. It doesn't matter much if a government agency is able to work out the network graph of people with whom I am associated around the project of youth soccer in my neighborhood. But if I were an Occupy Wall Street organizer, I would be VERY concerned about the fact that government is able to work out the full graph of my associates, their associates, and times and place of communication. At the least this fact has a chilling effect on political organization and protest -- both of which are constitutionally protected rights of US citizens. At the worst it makes possible police intervention and suppression based on the "intelligence" that is gathered. And the activities of the FBI in the 1960s against legal Civil Rights organizations make it clear that agencies are fully capable of undertaking actions in excess of their legal mandate. For that matter, the rogue activities of an IRS office with respect to the tax-exempt status of conservative political organizations illustrates the same point in the same news cycle!

The whole point of a constitution is to express clearly and publicly what rights citizens have, and to place bright-line limits on the scope of government action. But the revelations of this week make one doubt whether a constitutional limitation has any meaning anymore. These data collection and surveillance programs are wrapped in tight secrecy -- providers are not permitted to make public the requests that have been presented to them. So the public has no legitimate way of knowing what kind of information collection, surveillance, and intelligence activity is being undertaken with respect to their activities. In the name of homeland security, the evidence says that government is prepared to transgress what we thought of as "rights" with abandon, and with massive force. (The NSA data center under construction in Utah gives some sense of the massiveness of these data collection efforts.)

We are assured by government spokespersons that appropriate safeguards are in place to ensure and preserve the constitutional rights of all of us. But there are two problems with those assurances, both having to do with secrecy. Citizens are not provided with any account by government about how these programs are designed to work, and what safeguards are incorporated. And citizens are prevented from knowing what the exercise and effects of these programs are -- by the prohibition against telecom providers of giving any public information about the nature of requests that are being made under these programs. So secrecy prevents the very possibility of citizen knowledge and believable judicial oversight. By design there is no transparency about these crucial new tools and data collection methods.

All of this makes one think that the science and technology of encryption is politically crucial in the Internet age, for preserving some of our most basic rights of legal political activity. Being able to securely encrypt one's communications so only the intended recipients can gain access to them sounds like a crucial right of self-protection against the surveillance state. And being able to anonymize one's location and IP address -- through services like TOR router systems -- also seems like an important ability that everyone ought to consider making use of. Voice services like Skype seem to be fully compromised -- Microsoft, the owner of Skype, was the first company to accept the PRISM program, according to the secret powerpoint. But perhaps new Internet-based voice technologies using "trust no one" encryption and TOR routers will return the balance to the user. Intelligence and law enforcement agencies sometimes suggest that only people with something to hide would use an anonymizer in their interactions on the Web. But given the MASSIVE personalized data collection that government is engaged in, it would seem that every citizen has an interest in preserving his or her privacy to whatever extent possible. Privacy is an important human value in general; and it is a crucial value when it comes to the exercise of our constitutional rights of expression and association.

Government has surely overstepped through creation of these programs of data collection and surveillance; and it is hard to see how to put the genie back in the bottle. One step would be the creation of much more stringent legal limits on the data collection capacity of agencies like NSA (and commercial agencies, for that matter). But how can we trust that those limits will be respected by agencies that are accustomed to working in the dark?

anne said...

I'm finding myself increasingly distressed at this week's revelations about government surveillance of citizens' communications and Internet activity....

-- Dan Little

[ Truly distressing. ]

GeorgeK said...

I'm shocked that your shocked; everyone I know has always assumed that this level of intrusion was SOP.

Sandwichman said in reply to GeorgeK...

It's that process of osmosis Mailer warned us about back in '48.

anne said in reply to Sandwichman...


"With all its contradictions, I suppose there's an objective right on our side. That is, in Europe. Over here as far as I am concerned, it's the imperialism tossup. Either we louse up Asia or Japan does."

"There's an osmosis in war, call it what you will, but the victors always tend to assume the trappings of the lower. We might easily go fascist after we win."

The Naked and the Dead
By Norman Mailer

anne said in reply to anne...


"There's an osmosis in war, call it what you will, but the victors always tend to assume the trappings of the loser. We might easily go fascist after we win."

Sandwichman said in reply to anne...


hapa said...

russ feingold was the only senator to oppose USA PATRIOT act.

per senate record,

"I am also very troubled by the broad expansion of Government power under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as FISA. When Congress passed FISA in 1978, it granted to the executive branch the power to conduct surveillance in foreign intelligence investigations without having to meet the rigorous probable cause standard under the fourth amendment that is required for criminal investigations. There is a lower threshold for obtaining a wiretap order from the FISA court because the FBI is not investigating a crime, it is investigating foreign intelligence activities. But the law currently requires that intelligence gathering be the primary purpose of the investigation in order for this much lower standard to apply.

"The bill changes that requirement. The Government now will only have to show that intelligence is a ''significant purpose'' of the investigation. So even if the primary purpose is a criminal investigation, the heightened protections of the fourth amendment will not apply.

"It seems obvious that with this lower standard, the FBI will be able to try to use FISA as much as it can. And, of course, with terrorism investigations, that won't be difficult because the terrorists are apparently sponsored or at least supported by foreign governments. So this means the fourth amendment rights will be significantly curtailed in many investigations of terrorist acts.

"The significance of the breakdown of the distinction between intelligence and criminal investigations becomes apparent when you see other expansions of Government power under FISA in this bill."

GeorgeK said...

During his first Senate run in 08 Jon Tester's Republican opponent accused Jon of wanting to amend the Patriot Act, Tester replied he didn't want to amend it he wanted to repeal the Patriot Act. A hour later he received a call from DC telling him not to mention the Patriot Act again.

Both sides of the aisle.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

(On 'Total Information Awareness', which is all about
knowing what you know & knowing what you don't know.)

Too Much Information - Hendrik Hertzberg - Dec 9, 2002 - The NYer

The Information Awareness Office plays it so weird that one can't help suspecting that somebody on its staff might be putting us on. The Information Awareness Office's official seal features an occult pyramid topped with mystic all-seeing eye, like the one on the dollar bill. Its official motto is "Scientia Est Potentia," which doesn't mean "science has a lot of potential." It means "knowledge is power." And its official mission is to "imagine, develop, apply, integrate, demonstrate and transition information technologies, components and prototype, closed-loop, information systems that will counter asymmetric threats by achieving total information awareness."

The phrase "total information awareness" is creepy enough to merit a place alongside "USA Patriot Act" and "Department of Homeland Security," but it is not the Information Awareness Office's only gift to the language. The "example technologies" which the Office intends to develop include "entity extraction from natural language text," "biologically inspired algorithms for agent control," and "truth maintenance." One of the Office's thirteen subdivisions, the Human Identification at a Distance (HumanID) program, is letting contracts not only for "Face Recognition" and "Iris Recognition" but also for "Gait Recognition." ...

Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs...

Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs...

The Information Awareness Office (IAO) was established by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in January 2002 to bring together several DARPA projects focused on applying surveillance and information technology to track and monitor terrorists and other asymmetric threats to U.S. national security, by achieving Total Information Awareness (TIA).

Following public criticism that the development and deployment of this technology could potentially lead to a mass surveillance system, the IAO was defunded by Congress in 2003. However, several IAO projects continued to be funded, and merely run under different names. ... (Wikipedia)

Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs...

Total Information Awareness: The Sequel - May 17, 2013
Hendrik Hertzberg - The NYer

(Too be fair, the goals of Prism are no doubt
far less ambitious than 'Total Information
Awareness', at least for starters.
More like 'Minority Report'.)

Eric Blair said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs...

"One of the Office's thirteen subdivisions, the Human Identification at a Distance (HumanID) program, is letting contracts not only for "Face Recognition" and "Iris Recognition" but also for "Gait Recognition."

If they haven't already developed gait recognition, it's probably not worth bothering with. They can just wait another few years and buy the technology from the private sector, just as they are no doubt already doing with face and iris.

hix said...

Its not just scary, its plain dumb, even seen detached from broader societal norm and stability questions.
We foreigners, are surveiled since decades anyway and our stupid governments, in their irrational obedience to the social constructed hegemon, have never challenge the US. When a new MP by accident speaks up, the old guards soon reign him in and socialice him into obedience. Must be over a million people now that are occupied collecting and "analysing" that data, with nothing positive to show for it. Those military analysts are about as usefull as stock market analysts, just that they are much more, paid less in exhange for their soul and steal peoples life as opposed to their money.

"This comprehensive data collection permits the mother of all social network analysis projects -- to reconstruct the widening circles of persons with whom person X is associated. This is its value from an intelligence point of view"

Nope, no value, just noise, "analysed" by people who cant even speak Arabic, boom drone dead, more often than not the wrong guy, plus a couple of hundred cultateral damaged death. Surprise, more people hate Americans for good reaon. Much value in that.

hix said in reply to hix...

On an additional note, when you overhear people working hand in hand with such analysts who appear to be outsourced to some private subcontractor debate their credit card debt, that is really scary...

Xylix said...

This has been going on for some time. This has been public for some time. Anyone who has been caught by surprise by this has had their eyes closed, their fingers in their ears.

What I find disturbing is Dan Little's shock. And, perhaps due to well over a dozen falsified Republican 'scandals' -- in series no less -- my knee jerk reaction is to suspect that this shock is feigned.


The problem here is being misunderstood. The issue is not NSA spying. The issue is corporate spying. The problem is that we have given corporations the right to gather information on us in ways that clearly violate the constitution. This is justified under the generic principle "The constitution only applies to the government." Never mind that corporations, especially large ones, are effectively micro-governments.

This rampant corporate spying has created a giant loophole for the government to exploit. But the governments exploitation of that loophole is only a fragment of the potential abuse. Because it is not just governments that can abuse people.

jurisdebtor said in reply to Xylix...

"This has been going on for some time. This has been public for some time. Anyone who has been caught by surprise by this has had their eyes closed, their fingers in their ears.

What I find disturbing is Dan Little's shock. And, perhaps due to well over a dozen falsified Republican 'scandals' -- in series no less -- my knee jerk reaction is to suspect that this shock is feigned."

[Correction. We knew the overarch of the programs going on, but not the nuances. Those programs you link to vary from those made public this week; which is part of the problem, no one really knows with any level precision what the government is doing. The problem is not the programs per se, it's that they operate in the shadows, and, more importantly, since 9/11 we have seen major increases in government surveillance programs in the name of national security, coupled with the explosion of technology. These twin phenomena have left the law in the dust, and we have not been able to have a coherent conversation about whether such programs are necessary, lawful, and so forth, as well as the overall direction of our foreign policy and the like. For one reason or another, those attempting to raise these issues have been shouted down as being unpatriotic, endangering national security, or some other jingoistic garbage.]

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Obama (as Senator) sponsored a bill that would have made the Verizon order illegal -

President Obama co-sponsored legislation when he was a member of the Senate that would have banned the mass collection of phone records that his administration is now engaged in.

The SAFE Act, introduced by former Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho), would have amended the Patriot Act to require that the government have "specific and articulable facts" to show that a person is an "agent of a foreign power" before seizing their phone records.

The bill was referred to the Judiciary Committee in 2005, but never received a vote. It had 15 co-sponsors in all, including then-Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), who are now members of Obama's Cabinet. ...

(You may remember Larry Craig, whose Senate career was ended by snooping. I guess the problem here is that Nobody Likes Snooping, it just isn't illegal.)

Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs...

Xylix said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs...

Yes, and Obama once threatened to filibuster the FISA Amendments Act of 2008. Then, later, he changed his mind.

That was, for me, a rather memorable point of contention during the 2008 election.

-- The FISA Amendments Act of 2008, amongst other things, granted retroactive immunity to the corporations that had assisted the government's warrantless spying program. --

B said...

I think this whole bluster over it is ridiculous. What they are getting access to is just connections - who is talking to whom. And it's filtered by warrants. Even if it's not, who could possibly care?

Does anyone wonder if the phone companies used to keep records of who called whom? Uh, yeah. They did. For one thing, that is how they billed you. So of course. And law enforcement, etc. had access to that.

This is exactly the same thing - just pulled off and centralized, because it's not reasonable to expect companies to keep all that for the internet, and cell providers aren't keeping that info either.

Anyone who thinks what the do on the internet is secret is an idiot. And skype? You've got to be kidding.

save_the_rustbelt said...

Your financial and credit information is already being captured by commercial interests, and is accessible to many other commercial and governmental interests, including employers and potential employers.

Your medical information is quickly becoming fair game for the government and for insurance interests. States are selling "de-identified" information already.

Welcome to THE MATRIX.

EC said...

"how can we trust that those limits will be respected by agencies that are accustomed to working in the dark?"

Let's change the laws and then not fund these agencies. Things DID get better in the seventies and eighties and nineties.

bakho said...

Everyone gets up in arms about the BigBad Government doing exactly what Big Business does day in and day out with more harm to the average person. STR is correct. Anyone who thinks electron communication is private is delusional. The worst privacy offenders are Business including the press (although only Rupert seems to have been caught).

It matters what is done with the data. In the past, police and other agencies have collected flawed data and passed it on to potential employers in ways that blackballed people from being hired. There was a huge lawsuit about this involving the auto companies in the 60s and 70s. Now companies want you to "Friend" them on Facebook before they will hire. This behavior is far more intrusive than whatever it is that NSA is doing. But NSA gets all the outrage and BigBusiness abuses are met with silence.

Second Best said...

Osama bin Laden prevailed through Dubya, the perfect dimwit braggert of a cowboy to bait into two failed wars with 9-11, after which everyone became a suspect, used by Dubya to suppress his own people with a police state on grounds they had nothing to hide.

Much of it succeeded through private sector components of homeland security specifically designed to use powers of investigation not legal for use by government.

There will be no pullback of the complete matrix mapping of personal communications in the US at all levels whether public or private. It was the plan all along in plain view. The boiled frogs were served and eaten long ago.

Eric Blair said...

I am puzzled that anybody as smart and knowledgeable as Mark is surprised by any of this. I don't know the details of the Patriot Act, but from everything I know, this is all well within the parameters of that law. Furthermore, it is of course illegal for telecom providers to disclose the contents or even the existence of government subpoenas of this kind of information. Given that, the only rational course is to assume that all your electronic communications are subject to monitoring to some extent. I believe that Obama is less likely to abuse this authority than was Bush, but there aren't any legal constraints so far as I can tell.

Leading Edge Boomer said...

We've only had dull news (tornados, wildfires, buildings falling down, mass shootings, etc.), so this "scandal" will have to suffice to energize the talking heads. There are a few things to note:
---This began in 2005 in Iraq, where analyzing who called whom, etc., was stunningly successful at identifying groups of bad guys there (US ran the phone system).
---It was expanded into calls involving US citizens and international calls starting in 2006.
---The big breaking "news" is yet another (illegal) leak, this time of a classified FISA court document that extends the order to Verizon for another three months.
---You can be sure that all telecoms have been subject to the same requirements for some years.
---I learned of this in the mainstream press in 2006, and I have no access to classified information. Why didn't everyone already know?

BBC's article explains why scooping up all the metadata matters:

This article tries to review history and to educate people who are shouting now:

Eric Blair said...

"But if I were an Occupy Wall Street organizer, I would be VERY concerned about the fact that government is able to work out the full graph of my associates, their associates, and times and place of communication."

My assumption is that not only can the government do this, but that Google could too, if they really wanted to. Again, I think that Google is less likely to abuse this capability than most other companies would, but sooner or later this information will become available to entities who wish to use it against you, whether it be governments, private companies or individuals.

[Jun 08, 2013] Factbox History of mass surveillance in the United States


President Barack Obama defended his administration's security policies on Friday after reports revealing the sweeping nature of surveillance of Americans' phone and Internet activity.

Government surveillance and secret warrants are not new in the United States, particularly in the years since the September 11, 2001, attacks. Following are some key milestones in the history of surveillance in the country:

1919 - The U.S. Department of State quietly approves the creation of the Cipher Bureau, also known as the "Black Chamber." The Black Chamber is a precursor to the modern-day National Security Agency. It was the United States' first peacetime federal intelligence agency.

1945 - The United States creates Project SHAMROCK, a large-scale spying operation designed to gather all telegraphic data going in and out of the United States. The project, which began without court authorization, is terminated after lawmakers begin investigating it in 1975.

1952 - President Harry Truman secretly issues a directive to create the National Security Agency, which allows the Defense Department to consolidate surveillance activities after World War II.

1972 - The U.S. Supreme Court rules that Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures applies to surveillance for domestic threats. The case, the United States v. U.S. District Court, established the precedent that warrants were needed to authorize electronic spying, even if a domestic threat was involved.

1976 - Inspired by the Watergate scandal, Senator Frank Church leads a select committee to investigate federal intelligence operations. Its report, released in 1976, detailed widespread spying at home and abroad, and concluded that "intelligence agencies have undermined the constitutional rights of citizens." The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence was created as a check on U.S. surveillance activities.

1978 - Senator Church's report also results in Congress passing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA). It sets up the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to consider requests for secret warrants for domestic spying.

2001 - FISA resurfaces in the news after the September 11 attacks on the United States. Soon after the attacks, President George W. Bush signs off on a secret NSA domestic spying program. In October, Congress passes the USA PATRIOT Act, a sweeping law designed to bolster U.S. counterterrorism efforts that expands domestic surveillance capabilities.

2003 - In September, Congress votes to shut down the Pentagon Information Awareness Office, host of the proposed Total Information Awareness Program, after public outcry that the computer surveillance program could lead to mass surveillance.

2005 - A flurry of attention hits the government's domestic surveillance program when the extent of President George W. Bush's NSA spying policy is revealed by the New York Times. The investigation exposes the agency's massive, warrantless, tapping of telephones and emails.

2006 - In February, USA Today reports that the NSA had worked with telecommunications companies including AT&T and Sprint in its warrantless eavesdropping program. Three months later the newspaper reveals that the agency had been secretly collecting tens of millions of phone records from companies including Verizon.

2007 - Congress passes the Protect America Act, which amends FISA and expands the government's warrantless eavesdropping authority by lowering warrant requirements.

2008 - In the final months of his presidency, Bush oversees passage of further amendments to FISA, giving telecommunications companies immunity if they cooperate with NSA wiretapping. Then-Senator Barack Obama voted for the bill, breaking from his Democratic base.

2012 - The issue of domestic spying largely falls out of headlines during Obama's first years in office, but reappears in 2012 when the Director of National Intelligence authorizes Oregon Senator Ron Wyden to reveal that procedures of the government's surveillance program had been found "unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment" at least once by FISC.

2013 - Obama defends the government's surveillance programs following media reports that federal authorities had gained access to personal emails and files through the servers of major technology companies, and that the NSA had been reviewing phone records provided by major telecommunications corporations. Obama says the programs were overseen by federal judges and by Congress.

(Reporting by Gabriel Debenedetti; Editing by Karey Van Hall and David Brunnstrom)

[Jun 07, 2013] Behind Surveillance Flap, Plunging Trust in Government

Please note that that includes three letters agencies staff themselves. And that in a bad news for the USA, but good news for China.

"It seems that the government wants to know everywhere we go, everyone we know, and everything we think," says Reed Hundt, who sits on several corporate boards and was commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission from 1993 to 1997. "The law says you're innocent until proved guilty. Data mining is based on the opposite principle."

Americans have mixed feelings about their private data getting into corporate or government hands, but they have much stronger views about something else that makes this whole flap a huge problem for the Obama administration: They don't trust the government. That's why the uproar is likely to continue and perhaps even jeopardize legitimate efforts to thwart terrorists.

A momentous change

One of the most momentous changes of modern times has been a sharp drop in Americans' confidence in institutions. In the mid 1980s, for instance, 40% of Americans said they had confidence in Congress, according to Gallup. That's now at a near-record low of 13%. Confidence in the presidency has fallen from 72% in 1991 to 37%. A separate poll by Pew found that 53% of Americans say the federal government threatens their personal freedom, the highest number in the 18 years Pew has been asking the question.

Random findings

[Jun 07, 2013] UK gathering secret intelligence via covert NSA operation by Nick Hopkins

Hello KGB...
June 7, 2013 |

Exclusive: UK security agency GCHQ gaining information from world's biggest internet firms through US-run Prism programme

The UK's electronic eavesdropping and security agency, GCHQ, has been secretly gathering intelligence from the world's biggest internet companies through a covertly run operation set up by America's top spy agency, documents obtained by the Guardian reveal.

The documents show that GCHQ, based in Cheltenham, has had access to the system since at least June 2010, and generated 197 intelligence reports from it last year.

The US-run programme, called Prism, would appear to allow GCHQ to circumvent the formal legal process required to seek personal material such as emails, photos and videos from an internet company based outside the UK.

The use of Prism raises ethical and legal issues about such direct access to potentially millions of internet users, as well as questions about which British ministers knew of the programme.

In a statement to the Guardian, GCHQ, insisted it "takes its obligations under the law very seriously".

The details of GCHQ's use of Prism are set out in documents prepared for senior analysts working at America's National Security Agency, the biggest eavesdropping organisation in the world.

Dated April this year, the papers describe the remarkable scope of a previously undisclosed "snooping" operation which gave the NSA and the FBI easy access to the systems of nine of the world's biggest internet companies. The group includes Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo and Skype.

The documents, which appear in the form of a 41-page PowerPoint presentation, suggest the firms co-operated with the Prism programme. Technology companies denied knowledge of Prism, with Google insisting it "does not have a back door for the government to access private user data". But the companies acknowledged that they complied with legal orders.

The existence of Prism, though, is not in doubt.

Thanks to changes to US surveillance law introduced under President George W Bush and renewed under Barack Obama in December 2012, Prism was established in December 2007 to provide in-depth surveillance on live communications and stored information about foreigners overseas.

The law allows for the targeting of any customers of participating firms who live outside the US, or those Americans whose communications include people outside the US.

The documents make clear the NSA has been able to obtain unilaterally both stored communications as well as real-time collection of raw data for the last six years, without the knowledge of users, who would assume their correspondence was private.

The NSA describes Prism as "one of the most valuable, unique and productive accesses" of intelligence, and boasts the service has been made available to spy organisations from other countries, including GCHQ.

It says the British agency generated 197 intelligence reports from Prism in the year to May 2012 – marking a 137% increase in the number of reports generated from the year before. Intelligence reports from GCHQ are normally passed to MI5 and MI6.

The documents underline that "special programmes for GCHQ exist for focused Prism processing", suggesting the agency has been able to receive material from a bespoke part of the programme to suit British interests.

Unless GCHQ has stopped using Prism, the agency has accessed information from the programme for at least three years. It is not mentioned in the latest report from the Interception of Communications Commissioner Office, which scrutinises the way the UK's three security agencies use the laws covering the interception and retention of data.

Asked to comment on its use of Prism, GCHQ said it "takes its obligations under the law very seriously. Our work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the secretary of state, the interception and intelligence services commissioners and the intelligence and security committee".

The agency refused to be drawn on how long it had been using Prism, how many intelligence reports it had gleaned from it, or which ministers knew it was being used.

A GCHQ spokesperson added: "We do not comment on intelligence matters."

The existence and use of Prism reflects concern within the intelligence community about access it has to material held by internet service providers.

Many of the web giants are based in the US and are beyond the jurisdiction of British laws. Very often, the UK agencies have to go through a formal legal process to request information from service providers.

Because the UK has a mutual legal assistance treaty with America, GCHQ can make an application through the US department of justice, which will make the approach on its behalf.

Though the process is used extensively – almost 3,000 requests were made to Google alone last year – it is time consuming. Prism would appear to give GCHQ a chance to bypass the procedure.

In its statement about Prism, Google said it "cares deeply about the security of our users' data. We disclose user data to government in accordance with the law, and we review all such requests carefully. From time to time, people allege that we have created a government 'back door' into our systems, but Google does not have a back door for the government to access private user data".

Several senior tech executives insisted they had no knowledge of Prism or of any similar scheme. They said they would never have been involved in such a programme.

"If they are doing this, they are doing it without our knowledge," one said. An Apple spokesman said it had "never heard" of Prism.

In a statement confirming the existence of Prism, James Clapper, the director of national intelligence in the US, said: "Information collected under this programme is among the most important and valuable intelligence information we collect, and is used to protect our nation from a wide variety of threats."

A senior US administration official said: "The programme is subject to oversight by the foreign intelligence surveillance court, the executive branch, and Congress. It involves extensive procedures, specifically approved by the court, to ensure that only non-US persons outside the US are targeted, and that minimise the acquisition, retention and dissemination of incidentally acquired information about US persons."

[Jun 06, 2013] U.N. Realizes Internet Surveillance Chills Free Speech


The Internet U.N. Realizes Internet Surveillance Chills Free Speech

Posted by Soulskill on Tuesday June 04, 2013 @06:38PM from the last-horse-finally-crosses-the-finish-line dept.

An anonymous reader writes

"The Electronic Frontier Foundation reports that the United Nations has finally come to the realization that there is a direct relationship between government surveillance online and citizens' freedom of expression. The report (PDF) says, 'The right to privacy is often understood as an essential requirement for the realization of the right to freedom of expression. Undue interference with individuals' privacy can both directly and indirectly limit the free development and exchange of ideas. An infringement upon one right can be both the cause and consequence of an infringement upon the other.' The EFF adds, 'La Rue's landmark report could not come at a better time. The explosion of online expression we've seen in the past decade is now being followed by an explosion of communications surveillance. For many, the Internet and mobile telephony are no longer platforms where private communication is shielded from governments knowing when, where, and with whom a communication has occurred.'"


Not the monitoring, it's the ACTION that matters (Score:5, Interesting)

It doesn't matter how much or who monitors you.

What matters is what actions are taken from the monitoring - if any.

Given that monitoring is impossible to prevent or really limit, all efforts should be made in shaming those taking bad ACTIONS based upon collected data.


Re:Not the monitoring, it's the ACTION that matter (Score:5, Insightful)

all efforts should be made in shaming those taking bad ACTIONS based upon collected data.

To heck with *shaming* people who take bad actions with collected data need to be *punished*. And pretty severely at that.


Re:Not the monitoring, it's the ACTION that matter (Score:5, Interesting)

"Information is power." This is not strictly true, but information multiplies actions` effectiveness. The more information someone has about anyone makes easier to manipulate the victim without anyone`s knowledge. Always keep that in mind.

[Jun 05, 2013] The Banality of 'Don't Be Evil' by Julian Assange

Internet makes totalitarian methods seductive and courts are very weak deterrent. So the balance is a death of privacy. In a way Internet is KGB dream which materialized. For example, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Yahoo all try to position themselves (and by extension the US government) as intermediaries for your communications. Its not inconceivable that any post you made for the last ten years is still stored somewhere and in necessary all your posts can be data mined. The same in probably true for any email that crossed the border. Remember the fight about PGP usage.

"THE New Digital Age" is a startlingly clear and provocative blueprint for technocratic imperialism, from two of its leading witch doctors, Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen, who construct a new idiom for United States global power in the 21st century. This idiom reflects the ever closer union between the State Department and Silicon Valley, as personified by Mr. Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google, and Mr. Cohen, a former adviser to Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton who is now director of Google Ideas.

The authors met in occupied Baghdad in 2009, when the book was conceived. Strolling among the ruins, the two became excited that consumer technology was transforming a society flattened by United States military occupation. They decided the tech industry could be a powerful agent of American foreign policy.

The book proselytizes the role of technology in reshaping the world's people and nations into likenesses of the world's dominant superpower, whether they want to be reshaped or not. The prose is terse, the argument confident and the wisdom - banal. But this isn't a book designed to be read. It is a major declaration designed to foster alliances.

"The New Digital Age" is, beyond anything else, an attempt by Google to position itself as America's geopolitical visionary - the one company that can answer the question "Where should America go?" It is not surprising that a respectable cast of the world's most famous warmongers has been trotted out to give its stamp of approval to this enticement to Western soft power. The acknowledgments give pride of place to Henry Kissinger, who along with Tony Blair and the former C.I.A. director Michael Hayden provided advance praise for the book.

In the book the authors happily take up the white geek's burden. A liberal sprinkling of convenient, hypothetical dark-skinned worthies appear: Congolese fisherwomen, graphic designers in Botswana, anticorruption activists in San Salvador and illiterate Masai cattle herders in the Serengeti are all obediently summoned to demonstrate the progressive properties of Google phones jacked into the informational supply chain of the Western empire.

The authors offer an expertly banalized version of tomorrow's world: the gadgetry of decades hence is predicted to be much like what we have right now - only cooler. "Progress" is driven by the inexorable spread of American consumer technology over the surface of the earth. Already, every day, another million or so Google-run mobile devices are activated. Google will interpose itself, and hence the United States government, between the communications of every human being not in China (naughty China). Commodities just become more marvelous; young, urban professionals sleep, work and shop with greater ease and comfort; democracy is insidiously subverted by technologies of surveillance, and control is enthusiastically rebranded as "participation"; and our present world order of systematized domination, intimidation and oppression continues, unmentioned, unafflicted or only faintly perturbed.

The authors are sour about the Egyptian triumph of 2011. They dismiss the Egyptian youth witheringly, claiming that "the mix of activism and arrogance in young people is universal." Digitally inspired mobs mean revolutions will be "easier to start" but "harder to finish." Because of the absence of strong leaders, the result, or so Mr. Kissinger tells the authors, will be coalition governments that descend into autocracies. They say there will be "no more springs" (but China is on the ropes).

The authors fantasize about the future of "well resourced" revolutionary groups. A new "crop of consultants" will "use data to build and fine-tune a political figure."

"His" speeches (the future isn't all that different) and writing will be fed "through complex feature-extraction and trend-analysis software suites" while "mapping his brain function," and other "sophisticated diagnostics" will be used to "assess the weak parts of his political repertoire."

The book mirrors State Department institutional taboos and obsessions. It avoids meaningful criticism of Israel and Saudi Arabia. It pretends, quite extraordinarily, that the Latin American sovereignty movement, which has liberated so many from United States-backed plutocracies and dictatorships over the last 30 years, never happened. Referring instead to the region's "aging leaders," the book can't see Latin America for Cuba. And, of course, the book frets theatrically over Washington's favorite bogeymen: North Korea and Iran.

Google, which started out as an expression of independent Californian graduate student culture - a decent, humane and playful culture - has, as it encountered the big, bad world, thrown its lot in with traditional Washington power elements, from the State Department to the National Security Agency.

Despite accounting for an infinitesimal fraction of violent deaths globally, terrorism is a favorite brand in United States policy circles. This is a fetish that must also be catered to, and so "The Future of Terrorism" gets a whole chapter. The future of terrorism, we learn, is cyberterrorism. A session of indulgent scaremongering follows, including a breathless disaster-movie scenario, wherein cyberterrorists take control of American air-traffic control systems and send planes crashing into buildings, shutting down power grids and launching nuclear weapons. The authors then tar activists who engage in digital sit-ins with the same brush.

I have a very different perspective. The advance of information technology epitomized by Google heralds the death of privacy for most people and shifts the world toward authoritarianism. This is the principal thesis in my book, "Cypherpunks." But while Mr. Schmidt and Mr. Cohen tell us that the death of privacy will aid governments in "repressive autocracies" in "targeting their citizens," they also say governments in "open" democracies will see it as "a gift" enabling them to "better respond to citizen and customer concerns." In reality, the erosion of individual privacy in the West and the attendant centralization of power make abuses inevitable, moving the "good" societies closer to the "bad" ones.

The section on "repressive autocracies" describes, disapprovingly, various repressive surveillance measures: legislation to insert back doors into software to enable spying on citizens, monitoring of social networks and the collection of intelligence on entire populations. All of these are already in widespread use in the United States. In fact, some of those measures - like the push to require every social-network profile to be linked to a real name - were spearheaded by Google itself.

THE writing is on the wall, but the authors cannot see it. They borrow from William Dobson the idea that the media, in an autocracy, "allows for an opposition press as long as regime opponents understand where the unspoken limits are." But these trends are beginning to emerge in the United States. No one doubts the chilling effects of the investigations into The Associated Press and Fox's James Rosen. But there has been little analysis of Google's role in complying with the Rosen subpoena. I have personal experience of these trends.

The Department of Justice admitted in March that it was in its third year of a continuing criminal investigation of WikiLeaks. Court testimony states that its targets include "the founders, owners, or managers of WikiLeaks." One alleged source, Bradley Manning, faces a 12-week trial beginning tomorrow, with 24 prosecution witnesses expected to testify in secret.

This book is a balefully seminal work in which neither author has the language to see, much less to express, the titanic centralizing evil they are constructing. "What Lockheed Martin was to the 20th century," they tell us, "technology and cybersecurity companies will be to the 21st." Without even understanding how, they have updated and seamlessly implemented George Orwell's prophecy. If you want a vision of the future, imagine Washington-backed Google Glasses strapped onto vacant human faces - forever. Zealots of the cult of consumer technology will find little to inspire them here, not that they ever seem to need it. But this is essential reading for anyone caught up in the struggle for the future, in view of one simple imperative: Know your enemy.

Julian Assange is the editor in chief of WikiLeaks and author of "Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet."

[Jun 04, 2013] Julian Assange Says Google's Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen Are Witch Doctors


Anonymous Coward:

Google = NSA (Score:4, Insightful)

Those that study history have no doubt how the ruling elite operate, or the methods they use to control the populace. It is today no different from how it was three thousand years ago. The psychology of those that find themselves 'in charge' is an assumption that they are "god's chosen". Even today, in the USA, more than 50% of senior US politicians state that 'god' has given them their power to rule over others.

Of course, the reality of the so-called ruling elites is one of being prepared to do whatever it takes to keep power, and wherever possible, to grow that power and pass it on to later generations of their same family/group. America, for instance, is on the verge of getting a second Clinton or a third Bush as supreme ruler.

How do you control the masses? How do you keep the mob on a leash? How do you persuade the populace, year after year, to dedicate their lives to enriching and empowering the same tiny minority?

  • learn what the mob is thinking, in as close to real-time as possible
  • find the best ways to manipulate the opinions of the mob, especially their long term beliefs and aspirations
  • ensure the mob only ever hears control messages from the elites that rule them. Ensure the mob is trained to disregard messages from other sources
  • give the mob 'bread and circuses'. Let the mob feel self-empowered by participation in useless trivial events like organized religion, organized team sports, and harmless forms of self expression
  • exterminate or co-opt any emerging grass roots movements that could grown and threaten the power bases of the elites.

Only a complete fool would fail to understand where Google fits with the above goals. The dream of computerized intelligence gathering on the general population began before the age of the electronic computer. When 'electronic brains' first appeared, the elites were massively disappointed with the end results of unthinkably expensive attempts to use computers to spy on the populace. Perversely, the fiction of powerful computers doing incredible things spread like wild-fire through the consciousness of ordinary people in the 50s and 60s, but as we know the reality was far different.

The original Google project was predicated on the availability of vast amounts of cheap commodity hard-drive storage and processing power. It looked at the NSA desire to spy on the entire Human population from a very different POV. It also took account of the fact that official government IT projects (even when secret) would always fall prey to mega-corruption and complete-incompetence as a consequence. The psychology of successful IT ambitions was being made apparent by the incredible growth of the Internet.

Google gives people useful/entertaining/addicting toys like search, Youtube, Gmail and Android. Each of these toys monitors, and encourages users to provide ever greater amounts of information about themselves to monitor.

Google also provides the infrastructure (hardware and software models) that are used by the intelligence agencies of the 'West' to store and mine the information they gather. These are shadow-Google installations, built and run by people directly employed by intelligence agencies like the NSA, but based on current designs used by Google itself.

Google, as you should know, makes a lot of money from mining its data and using the results for advertising. What few of you realize is that this business is a deliberate side-effect of Google researching and developing mining algorithms for the NSA.

Today, when you vote Republican or Democrat in the USA, you get exactly the same mid/long term policies, and exactly the same program of rolling wars. In the UK, you can vote Labour, Liberal or Conservative, but still experience the exact agenda Tony Blair laid down for the UK when that monster first rose to visible power. The elites don't even have to bother maintaining even the illusion of a choice, largely thanks to Google.

The people that run Google think that they are superior to you, and therefore their will matters, and you will does not. I hate to tell you this, but the crud that desires to rule over others always has this attitude. And when you do nothing but lay down and accept the abuse, this abusive attitude grows exponentially.


He's wrong. The technocratic imperialism part is accurate, in a sense.

Nope, wrong. (Score:3)

The notion that it is centered around a specific culture confined to a specific nation-state is not. He seems to be blinded by his disdain for America, when in fact his alleged adversaries are politically ambivalent outside of their concern for policy that impacts their own state-independent agenda.


Re: who cares

He is clearly more than that or the media would not feel the need to smear him like this.

The "witch doctors" quote is taken completely out of context. All he is saying is that some companies are rushing ahead with new tech like Google Glass and Streetview and telling us everything is fine and its good for us.

plopez (54068) writes: on Monday June 03, 2013 @10:15AM (#43895765)

Re: who cares

he fact the book was endorsed by Kissenger is enough for me. The man is an authoritarian nightmare; he helped craft the concept of the unitary executive, bombed neutral nations into the dirt, and overthrew legally elected governments to name just a few things. If Kissenger likes it it smells like imperialism to me.

Anonymous Coward

Re:who cares (Score:5, Insightful)

> Assange's knee-jerk reaction is to presume the worst, and hidden, motives for anything related to American interests and motives.

Why the fuck are you Americans so paranoid? You have all the guns you want, a massive military yet you're still so utterly shit scared that everyone's out to get you. For all the talk of "If I someone tried to attack me, I'd shoot them because I'm a hard scary person" in your country you don't have cry like a bunch of pussies each time someone talks bad of you and you don't half seem unable to consider how you might use your own physical form to defend yourselves if your guns were taken away as if the idea of punching someone attempting to attack you is too much for your feeble existences.

There's no doubt his organisation's biggest leak was embarrassing to the US but he leaked things about plenty of other countries prior to that. The only way he's started to focus on the US is in the way that it's been turned into a self-fulfilling prophecy where paranoid Americans like yourself and your government have cried "He's out to get us!" and attacked him in the media and so forth, to which he responds and points out the hypocrisy of your country and your countrymen which you then cry "He's out to get us!" again and so the cycle repeats.

He's not out to get you beyond the fact that your country and it's people have made it an us vs. him thing such that the media always asks about that US complaining against him such that another feedback loop commences about "how he's always on about the US because he just mentioned us! (even though he was asked about us and was just answering the question)" type scenario.

If he has started to pursue the US specifically then that's entirely you're nation's own doing. He only gives a toss about transparency and corruption and if you want him to focus on exposing that in other countries then you know what? Just shut up, and give it up with your attempt at extraordinary rendition via Sweden on trumped up rape charges against him so he can get on with exactly that.


Re:who cares

Please, don't forget that Julian became something of a minor hero, when his leaks concerned mostly Arab nations that we disapproved of, or approved of very little. It wasn't until Manning's stuff was published that Julian became "Public Enemy #xx". Congress critters and the White House gave him praise, even if it was faint, as long as he seemed to be focusing on Arab nations. How quickly the tables turned when we became the focus of attention!


Re:who cares (Score:5, Funny)

Why the fuck are you Americans so paranoid? You have all the guns you want, a massive military yet you're still so utterly shit scared that everyone's out to get you. For all the talk of "If someone tried to attack me, I'd shoot them because I'm a hard scary person" in your country

I am a hard scary person, but it looks like someone needs a hug.

Anonymous Coward

Re:who cares

... to presume the worst, and hidden, motives for anything related to American interests and motives. In this way he's like Chomsky...

Have you read any Chomsky? Chomsky explictly refrains from discussing the motives of American foreign policy. This is because, he says, it is impossible to determine what the actual motives behind any particular decision are, to try and do so would just be speculation. Instead, he confines himself to pointing discrepancies between what the govt. and the media say US foreign policy is doing, or trying to do, and what they are actually doing, or trying to do.

He makes this disclaimer prominently in many, if not all of his books (on foreign policy and media hegemony).

Anonymous Coward

For what it's worth, Schmidt has virtually disappeared inside Google (I work there). Once Larry took over Eric's influence - never actually high at the best of times - appears to have dropped to somewhere near absolute zero. He rarely appears in internal events anymore and doesn't seem to have any impact on priorities or staffing decisions. He was always something of a caretaker leader even in the years he was CEO ... the real drive and product direction was always coming from back seat driving by L&S.

Assange's article makes him sound like he's been locked up in that embassy for too long, to be honest. Schmidt and Cohen may well have an unhealthily close relationship with the US Government, but as neither of them are in charge any more it makes little difference. The idea that "Google is trying to position itself as America's geopolitical visionary" is silly. I can't imagine anything that must interest Page less than geopolitics.

[Apr 18, 2013] LinkedIn Invites Gone Wild How To Keep Close With Exes and Strangers


sholto writes "An aggressive expansion strategy by LinkedIn has backfired spectacularly amid accusations of identity fraud. Users complained the social network sent unrequested invites from their accounts to contacts and complete strangers, often with embarrassing results. One man claimed LinkedIn sent an invite from his account to an ex-girlfriend he broke up with 12 years ago who had moved state, changed her surname and her email address. ... 'This ex-girlfriend's Linked in profile has exactly ONE contact, ME. My wife keeps getting messages asking 'would you like to link to (her)? You have 1 contact in common!,' wrote Michael Caputo, a literary agent from Massachussetts."


How is this not considered criminal activity? Could LinkedIn just be the target of a spoofing campaign? I have a hard time believing they could be so stupid.

i kan reed

My previous employer made me get a linkedin account. It is the single most spammy thing I've ever signed up for. "Do you know former employee of customer of previous previous employer?" Fuck. Off.


maybe you could try turning off email notification

Second hit for "linkedin email preferences." You're on Slashdot, and you don't know how to do this?

Email notifications can be added, changed, or stopped in the Email Preferences section of the Settings page [...] The following options are available:

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I have no trouble believing this

LinkedIn has always seemed shady to me. I joined a few years ago, and got inundated with requests from people who seemed to do nothing with their time but offer to show me how to accumulate linked-in followers. My ex and I were simultaneously suggested to each other as contacts, probably because we still share some friends in common. Neither of us requested anything. I think the whole thing is just another social-media wank-fest, like twitter or google+.



Linkedin is exactly like the business culture it was meant to serve.

Sleazy, smarmy, greedy, dishonest, sycophantic, treacherous, fraudulent. Simply the core values of global business.


Re:People are using the address book feature (Score:4, Insightful)

I'm pretty sure you're right.

I hardly pay attention to most of what I read online, especially when I'm on LinkedIn (I'm trying not to look at adverts, so I miss the content as well).

I found myself once entering my LinkedIn password into some "password" input box, which, as I wasn't paying much attention, I thought was LinkedIn's "your session has expired". However, it rejected the password, which made me look again. I was entering my password into the "we've got your email address, now just give us the password" box. As I have different passwords for different things, no problem. But I'm sure that some people use the same password for everything, and suddenly LinkedIn sends an email to every contact on their gmail account.


Re:Been wondering myself.

Those are probably not from Linkedin. Spammers are sending mail that looks linkedin in now as well. Gmail seems very good in separating real Linkedin and spam looking like Linkedin.

My issue with Linkedin is that I keep on getting spam from them with an offer for a free month of premium access. Note to Linkedin: if I have to supply credit card details: IT AIN'T FREE!!


Always been aggravating

They've always been aggressive and aggravating, as far as I'm concerned. When a family member signed up with them I got a request. And another. And another. And they kept coming. I finally followed a link and told them to shut up and stop bothering me, but then another associate signed up and it started all over again. I can understand one invite, but they sent far more than was warranted, or could be considered reasonable or polite. I refuse to use them, not just because of the grudge, but also because I don't want them spamming friends or family based on my registration.


The usual sloppy reporting

While I find the constant barrage of "do you know" messages annoying, it's pretty clear to me what they are: a message from LinkedIn (NOT the person you might or might not know) asking if you might know this person, and sugesting that you invite THEM.

Once you click through on one of these, you get the standard LinkedIn invitation request. You are asked to make a selection as to how you know this person. If you check "I don't know this person", then you need to know their email address in order to complete the invitation. AS WITH ANY Linked-In invitation.

The annoying messages are NOT invitations, though, you AREN'T automatically connected by responding to them (the other person would have to approve) and they AREN'T sent from the other person's account. It's pretty clear they are sent by LinkedIn, trying to drum-up more connections.


Linkedin is no better than Facebook

Both of them are hungry for all the personal data they can get their hands on, so that they can turn around and sell anything to you, and sell you to anything. The problem is that while I'm completely in control of my choice to have a Facebook account (read: I don't have a facebook account), my most recent employer requires me to have a LinkedIn profile. Moreover, a lot of tech firms won't even consider you if they can't find you on LinkedIn. It's a horrible site, but unfortunately everybody expects you to play the game.


My question is how necessary is LI these days?

I still don't have a LI account (nor facebook nor twitter, nor g+)... I'm being told that being on LinkedIn is more or less obligatory if I want to have a reasonable chance of not being ignored by a hiring manager or HR drone. I'm being told this by colleagues and friends, a few of whom are hiring managers. I've been operating under the assumption that my reputation is enough to get me hired (as has been the case for at least 25 years) but what I'm hearing now is that if I don't show up on LinkedIn, my resume gets tossed.. I'm offended by the very idea and like to console myself that I probably don't want to work for anyone who filters resumes this way...

Unfortunately, I'm approaching my sunset years and may not be able to afford to restrict my employment opportunities should I suddenly find myself unemployed.

Sir Holo

LinkedIn is Creepier than Facebook (Score:4, Interesting)

I've had a LinkedIn account for a decade or so. During most of that time, it was just a place to post my CV details, and to "link" to other professionals that I know. No longer.

Now, when I go to LinkedIn, they suggest numerous people as "People You May Know." Fine, let's take a look:

* my psychiatrist (who even knows that I have one!?!) * the guy who painted my condo five years ago * an ex-roommate from 11 years ago * an acupuncturist who I used three times, in another city, eight years ago * a casual acquaintance from 10 years ago (who may have sent me an invite) * someone whose only connection to me is a one-time dance, and is a "FB friend." No emails between us * a guy I shared an office with, but who was a jerk, so we never exchanged emails * a guy who formerly lived in my condo complex * a guy who was the grad-school advisor of a former workplace colleague, but whom I never socialized with * a researcher at another lab, who I have only ever talked to once, and have never emailed * a years-ago dance instructor whom I only ever contacted twice, via phone * a guy whom I co-authored a single scientific paper with years ago, and emailed only once * various students who have taken my courses * a woman who worked at the same company I worked at, but whom I never had an email contact with (outside of the company's proprietary and encrypted Lotus Notes system) * a former program manager at a lab I formerly worked at, 10 years ago, whom I only interacted with in person (no email) * another guy I co-authored a journal article with, but never contacted by email outside my former employer's encrypted LotusNotes email system * my former accountant * a former frat brother, from 15 years ago, whom I have never emailed * various program managers at national funding agencies whom I have contacted in the past via phone/email * several former colleagues that I never emailed, but had only verbal contact with, from a lab 12 years ago * a professor whom I emailed only once, 12 years ago regarding a postdoc position, but never met * the son of a former colleague, who I ever only heard about in lunch conversation, and never interacted with * a roommate from 10 years ago * a prof I took an undergrad course from 19 years ago * lots of profs and researchers whom I know professionally and personally, but whom I have never emailed * plus lots of false hits...

Very creepy, and really, in a couple of cases violating HIPPA regulations through their disclosure of who-knows-whom.

Where are they mining? People's email address books, certainly. But probably also my bank, author lists on publications, speaker lists at conferences, and perhaps people who simply look up my profile.

Too creepy. I will soon cancel my LinkedIn account, and just make a website bearing my name (I already own the domain), so that people can find me without all of this creepy gray-zone crap.

[Sep 21, 2012 ] Microsoft Urging Safari Users To Use Bing

Posted by samzenpus on Thursday September 20, @10:03PM
from the you-tried-the-rest-now-try-the-best dept.

New submitter SquarePixel writes

sizset="183">"Microsoft is urging Safari users to switch to Bing after Google was fined $22.5 million for violating Safari privacy settings. 'Microsoft is keen to make sure that no-one forgets this, let alone Safari users, and the page summarizes the events that took place.'

It tells users how Google promised not to track Safari users, but tracked them without their permission and used this data to serve them advertisement.

Lastly, it tells how Google was fined $22.5 million for this and suggests users to try the more privacy oriented Bing search engine."


MS DID get caught, sniffing peoples google sear

What is the difference between what Bing did and what google does?

The difference is that Microsoft has spying technology built right into the browser, it's called compatibility view updates, and their search suggestion system. With Google you have to choose to be tracked.


DuckDuckGo's entire advertising strategy is based off of privacy.


I started using DuckDuckGo exclusively just a couple days ago. So far I'm liking it a lot--search results seem just as good as Google's, if not better in some cases. With that said, I actually miss Google's Instant search in Chrome. On the other hand, the bang keywords are nice on those rare occasions I'm not using Chrome (for the uninitiated, adding "!amazon", for example, opens the search result page for your query).


Yahoo!'s boss came from Google. She's not a Google tool, but she did used to date one: Larry Page. Depending on how that ended they may she may be more open to a mutually beneficial relationship than the old boss. Or she may want to kill Google. Or maybe both, depending on the lunar calendar. Who knows? She's knocked up right now and so not as susceptible to lunacy as young owners of her gender usually are.

Oh, God am I going to get hate for this post. It's humor folks. Laugh a little. If we can't enjoy the human condition and find it funny, what have we got?


Just because Google does stupid shit does not mean Microsoft does not also deserve to be called out for doing stupid shit.

But we can note when Google is worse.

Google's G+ integration includes G+ results being promoted in the search stream.

Microsoft's Facebook integration does not alter your search results.

And G+ is sucking a lot more of your personal information (including search habits) into Google. At least with Microsoft there remains some division between what Facebook gets and what Microsoft gets.

[Jul 23, 2012] The Onion Facebook Is CIA's Dream Come True [SATIRE] by Stan Schroeder

Compare with Assange- Facebook, Google, Yahoo spying tools for US intelligence

As the "single most powerful tool for population control," the CIA's "Facebook program" has dramatically reduced the agency's costs - at least according to the latest "report" from the satirical mag The Onion.

Perhaps inspired by a recent interview with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who called Facebook "the most appalling spy machine that has ever been invented," The Onion's video fires a number of arrows in Facebook's direction - with hilarious results.

In the video, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is dubbed "The Overlord" and is shown receiving a "medal of intelligence commendation" for his work with the CIA's Facebook program.

The Onion also takes a jab at FarmVille (which is responsible for "pacifying" as much as 85 million people after unemployment rates rose), Twitter (which is called useless as far as data gathering goes), and Foursquare (which is said to have been created by Al Qaeda).

Check out the video below and tell us in the comments what you think.

CIA's 'Facebook' Program Dramatically Cut Agency's Costs Onion News Network

[Jul 7, 2012] The-CIA-wants-spy-TV-Agency-director-says-net-connected-gadgets-transform-surveillance

Petraeus says that web-connected gadgets will 'transform' the art of spying - allowing spies to monitor people automatically without planting bugs, breaking and entering or even donning a tuxedo to infiltrate a dinner party.

'Transformational' is an overused word, but I do believe it properly applies to these technologies,' said Petraeus.

'Particularly to their effect on clandestine tradecraft. Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters - all connected to the next-generation internet using abundant, low-cost, and high-power computing.'

Petraeus was speaking to a venture capital firm about new technologies which aim to add processors and web connections to previously 'dumb' home appliances such as fridges, ovens and lighting systems.

This week, one of the world's biggest chip companies, ARM, has unveiled a new processor built to work inside 'connected' white goods.

The ARM chips are smaller, lower-powered and far cheaper than previous processors - and designed to add the internet to almost every kind of electrical appliance.

It's a concept described as the 'internet of things'.

[Jul 7, 2012] Julian Assange- Facebook Is a Spy Machine [VIDEO]

May 02, 2011 |

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says Facebook, Google, and Yahoo are actually tools for the U.S. intelligence community.

Speaking to Russian news site RT in an interview published yesterday, Assange was especially critical of the world's top social network. He reportedly said that the information Facebook houses is a potential boon for the U.S. government if it tries to build up a dossier on users.

"Facebook in particular is the most appalling spying machine that has ever been invented," Assange said in the interview, which was videotaped and published on the site. "Here we have the world's most comprehensive database about people, their relationships, their names, their addresses, their locations and the communications with each other, their relatives, all sitting within the United States, all accessible to U.S. intelligence."

If that's the case, it might surprise some that WikiLeaks has its very own Facebook page. In fact, last year, when WikiLeaks released a controversial batch of confidential documents--putting Assange on the run--Facebook refused to shut down that page. The company said at the time that the page did not "violate our content standards nor have we encountered any material posted on the page that violates our policies."

Facebook's response stood in stark contrast to the treatment of WikiLeaks by many other companies in the U.S. last year. Several firms, including PayPal, blocked the company's accounts.

But Assange didn't just stop at Facebook. He also told RT that in addition to the world's largest social network, Google and Yahoo "have built-in interfaces for U.S. intelligence."

"It's not a matter of serving a subpoena," he told RT. "They have an interface that they have developed for U.S. intelligence to use."

Surprisingly, Assange didn't mention Twitter, another major social network with which his organization has run into trouble.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Justice Department sent a court order to Twitter, requesting the social network deliver information from accounts of activists that allegedly had ties to WikiLeaks. In March, the Justice Department was granted access to those accounts following a judge's ruling in favor of the seizure. Last month, the Justice Department said that complaints over its desire to obtain Twitter information is "absurd," and its actions are quite common in criminal investigations.

However, the Justice Department didn't secure a search warrant for access to the information. Instead, it obtained a 2703(d) order, allowing investigators to secure online records that are "relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation."

For U.S. intelligence, getting information from Facebook is much easier, Assange said in the interview. He reportedly told RT that the U.S. intelligence community's use of "legal and political pressure" on Facebook is enough for it get what it wants.

"Everyone should understand that when they add their friends to Facebook, they are doing free work for United States intelligence agencies in building this database for them," Assange said, according to the RT interview.

For its part, Facebook disagrees with Assange's sentiment. In a written statement to CNET, a Facebook spokesman said that it does only what's legal--and nothing more.

"We don't respond to pressure, we respond to compulsory legal process," the spokesman told CNET. "There has never been a time we have been pressured to turn over data [and] we fight every time we believe the legal process is insufficient. The legal standards for compelling a company to turn over data are determined by the laws of the country, and we respect that standard."

[Jul 7, 2012] The Government Is Monitoring Facebook And Twitter | …

I think that it would be stupid not to do so...
Dec 14, 2009 |

"The government is increasingly monitoring Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites for tax delinquents, copyright infringers and political protesters."

So ominously began an editorial in Sunday's New York Times.

Those with accounts at such websites should pay attention, for according to the Times, and other sources, Big Brother is watching you:

The Wall Street Journal reported this summer that state revenue agents have been searching for tax scofflaws by mining information on MySpace and Facebook. In October, the F.B.I. searched the New York home of a man suspected of helping coordinate protests at the Group of 20 meeting in Pittsburgh by sending out messages over Twitter.

The Boston Globe reported on this matter in January:

In an informal survey of 14 departments in this area, officials in half of them said they use social networking websites such as Facebook and MySpace in detective work - particularly in investigations involving young people.

Wired magazine reported in October:

America's spy agencies want to read your blog posts, keep track of your Twitter updates - even check out your book reviews on Amazon.

In-Q-Tel, the investment arm of the CIA and the wider intelligence community, is putting cash into Visible Technologies, a software firm that specializes in monitoring social media.

It's part of a larger movement within the spy services to get better at using "open source intelligence" - information that's publicly available, but often hidden in the flood of TV shows, newspaper articles, blog posts, online videos and radio reports generated every day.

The Times continued:

This month the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Samuelson Law, Technology and Public Policy Clinic at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law sued the Department of Defense, the C.I.A. and other federal agencies under the Freedom of Information Act to learn more about their use of social networking sites.

The suit seeks to uncover what guidelines these agencies have about this activity, including information about whether agents are permitted to use fake identities or to engage in subterfuge, such as tricking people into accepting Facebook friend requests.

Privacy law was largely created in the pre-Internet age, and new rules are needed to keep up with the ways people communicate today. Much of what occurs online, like blog posting, is intended to be an open declaration to the world, and law enforcement is within its rights to read and act on what is written. Other kinds of communication, particularly in a closed network, may come with an expectation of privacy. If government agents are joining social networks under false pretenses to spy without a court order, for example, that might be crossing a line.

Scary stuff indeed.

So be careful with your next Tweet or Facebook status, for you never know who's watching.

On the other hand, it will be interesting to see how Obama-loving media follow this story.

After all, the press were constantly bashing the Bush White House concerning electronic surveillance designed to protect the nation from terrorist attacks.

The Times might be pleased with itself by publishing an editorial on this subject in its opinion section, but under the previous administration, this would have resulted in a front page story with thousands of words.

The Times published a piece in its Business section last November that touched on this very subject:

Propelled by new technologies and the Internet's steady incursion into every nook and cranny of life, collective intelligence offers powerful capabilities, from improving the efficiency of advertising to giving community groups new ways to organize.

But even its practitioners acknowledge that, if misused, collective intelligence tools could create an Orwellian future on a level Big Brother could only dream of.

Collective intelligence could make it possible for insurance companies, for example, to use behavioral data to covertly identify people suffering from a particular disease and deny them insurance coverage. Similarly, the government or law enforcement agencies could identify members of a protest group by tracking social networks revealed by the new technology. "There are so many uses for this technology - from marketing to war fighting - that I can't imagine it not pervading our lives in just the next few years," says Steve Steinberg, a computer scientist who works for an investment firm in New York.

In a widely read Web posting, he argued that there were significant chances that it would be misused, "This is one of the most significant technology trends I have seen in years; it may also be one of the most pernicious."

Twelve months later, and under a new supposedly more open administration, such fears are being realized.

Will the monitoring of social networking sites by government agencies produce similar outrage with a Democrat in the White House?

Read more:

[Jul 7, 2012] FBI, Feds collect Facebook, social media data; Why are you surprised By Larry Dignan

March 17, 2010 | ZDNet

Summary: The Feds have training courses on gathering information on social networks, identifying relationships, chasing the bad guys and going undercover, according to documents obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The biggest surprise: That this would surprise anyone.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Internal Revenue Service have training courses on gathering information on social networks, identifying relationships, chasing the bad guys and going undercover, according to documents obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The biggest surprise: Social networking users are surprised by any of this government activity.

Looking at the headlines about the government's documents on how to use social networking and it's surprising that anyone thinks this is a big deal. Undercover Feds on Facebook? Gasp! IRS using social networking to piece together a few facts that illustrate you lied about your taxes? Oooh.

Give me a break. Why wouldn't the Feds use these tools? They'd be idiots if they didn't. Repeat after me:

  • Privacy is a bit of a joke online and you willingly give it up.
  • People share everything on social networks (lunch, vacation plans, whereabouts, drivel no one cares about).
  • This information is increasingly public.

Let's face it; folks are broadcasting everything from the breakfast they eat to their bowel movements to when and where they are on vacation. They use services that track every movement they make (willingly!) on Foursquare and Google Latitude. Why wouldn't an FBI agent chasing a perp get into some idiot's network so he can track him everywhere? It's called efficiency people.

[Jul 7, 2012] Internet Has Become 'Surveillance Machine' by Julian Assange

Nov 28, 2011 | Common Dreams
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange blasted the mainstream media, Washington, banks and the Internet itself as he addressed journalists in Hong Kong on Monday via videolink from house arrest in England.

The Internet itself had become "the most significant surveillance machine that we have ever seen," Assange said in reference to the amount of information people give about themselves online. (photo: Andrew Winning, Reuters) Fresh from accepting a top award for journalism from the prestigious Walkley Foundation in his native Australia on Sunday, Assange spoke to the News World Summit in Hong Kong before keeping a regular appointment with the police.

He defended his right to call himself a journalist and said WikiLeaks' next "battle" would be to ensure that the Internet does not turn into a vast surveillance tool for governments and corporations.

"Of course I'm a goddamn journalist," he responded with affected frustration when a moderator of the conference asked if he was a member of the profession.

He said his written record spoke for itself and argued that the only reason people kept asking him if he was a journalist was because the United States' government wanted to silence him.

"The United States government does not want legal protection for us," he said, referring to a US Justice Department investigation into his whistle-blower website for releasing secret diplomatic and military documents.

The former hacker criticized journalists and the mainstream media for becoming too cozy with the powerful and secretive organizations they were supposed to be holding to account.

In a 40-minute address, he also accused credit card companies such as Visa and MasterCard of illegally cutting WikiLeaks off from funding under a secret deal with the White House.

"Issues that should be decided in open court are being decided in back rooms in Washington," he said.

The Internet itself had become "the most significant surveillance machine that we have ever seen," Assange said in reference to the amount of information people give about themselves online.

"It's not an age of transparency at all ... the amount of secret information is more than ever before," he said, adding that information flows in but is not flowing out of governments and other powerful organizations.

"I see that really is our big battle. The technology gives and the technology takes away," he added.

The anti-secrecy activist then help up a handwritten sign from an aide telling him to "stop" talking or he would be late for a mandatory appointment with police.

Assange, 40, is under house arrest in England pending the outcome of a Swedish extradition request over claims of rape and sexual assault made by two women. He says he is the victim of a smear campaign.

Introduction to Social Network Methods Chapter 1 Social Network Data

On one hand, there really isn't anything about social network data that is all that unusual. Social network analysts do use a specialized language for describing the structure and contents of the sets of observations that they use. But, network data can also be described and understood using the ideas and concepts of more familiar methods, like cross-sectional survey research.

On the other hand, the data sets that social network analysts develop usually end up looking quite different from the conventional rectangular data array so familiar to survey researchers and statistical analysts. The differences are quite important because they lead us to look at our data in a different way -- and even lead us to think differently about how to apply statistics.

"Conventional" social science data consist of a rectangular array of measurements. The rows of the array are the cases, or subjects, or observations. The columns consist of scores (quantitative or qualitative) on attributes, or variables, or measures. A simple example is shown as figure 1.1. Each cell of the array then describes the score of some actor (row) on some attribute (column). In some cases, there may be a third dimension to these arrays, representing panels of observations or multiple groups.

[Jul 3, 2012] Facebook Is Using You by Joon Mo Kang

Feb 5, 2012 |

LAST week, Facebook filed documents with the government that will allow it to sell shares of stock to the public. It is estimated to be worth at least $75 billion. But unlike other big-ticket corporations, it doesn't have an inventory of widgets or gadgets, cars or phones. Facebook's inventory consists of personal data - yours and mine.

Facebook makes money by selling ad space to companies that want to reach us. Advertisers choose key words or details - like relationship status, location, activities, favorite books and employment - and then Facebook runs the ads for the targeted subset of its 845 million users. If you indicate that you like cupcakes, live in a certain neighborhood and have invited friends over, expect an ad from a nearby bakery to appear on your page. The magnitude of online information Facebook has available about each of us for targeted marketing is stunning. In Europe, laws give people the right to know what data companies have about them, but that is not the case in the United States.

Facebook made $3.2 billion in advertising revenue last year, 85 percent of its total revenue. Yet Facebook's inventory of data and its revenue from advertising are small potatoes compared to some others. Google took in more than 10 times as much, with an estimated $36.5 billion in advertising revenue in 2011, by analyzing what people sent over Gmail and what they searched on the Web, and then using that data to sell ads. Hundreds of other companies have also staked claims on people's online data by depositing software called cookies or other tracking mechanisms on people's computers and in their browsers. If you've mentioned anxiety in an e-mail, done a Google search for "stress" or started using an online medical diary that lets you monitor your mood, expect ads for medications and services to treat your anxiety.

Ads that pop up on your screen might seem useful, or at worst, a nuisance. But they are much more than that. The bits and bytes about your life can easily be used against you. Whether you can obtain a job, credit or insurance can be based on your digital doppelgänger - and you may never know why you've been turned down.

Material mined online has been used against people battling for child custody or defending themselves in criminal cases. LexisNexis has a product called Accurint for Law Enforcement, which gives government agents information about what people do on social networks. The Internal Revenue Service searches Facebook and MySpace for evidence of tax evaders' income and whereabouts, and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has been known to scrutinize photos and posts to confirm family relationships or weed out sham marriages. Employers sometimes decide whether to hire people based on their online profiles, with one study indicating that 70 percent of recruiters and human resource professionals in the United States have rejected candidates based on data found online. A company called Spokeo gathers online data for employers, the public and anyone else who wants it. The company even posts ads urging "HR Recruiters - Click Here Now!" and asking women to submit their boyfriends' e-mail addresses for an analysis of their online photos and activities to learn "Is He Cheating on You?"

Stereotyping is alive and well in data aggregation. Your application for credit could be declined not on the basis of your own finances or credit history, but on the basis of aggregate data - what other people whose likes and dislikes are similar to yours have done. If guitar players or divorcing couples are more likely to renege on their credit-card bills, then the fact that you've looked at guitar ads or sent an e-mail to a divorce lawyer might cause a data aggregator to classify you as less credit-worthy. When an Atlanta man returned from his honeymoon, he found that his credit limit had been lowered to $3,800 from $10,800. The switch was not based on anything he had done but on aggregate data. A letter from the company told him, "Other customers who have used their card at establishments where you recently shopped have a poor repayment history with American Express."

Even though laws allow people to challenge false information in credit reports, there are no laws that require data aggregators to reveal what they know about you. If I've Googled "diabetes" for a friend or "date rape drugs" for a mystery I'm writing, data aggregators assume those searches reflect my own health and proclivities. Because no laws regulate what types of data these aggregators can collect, they make their own rules.

In 2007 and 2008, the online advertising company NebuAd contracted with six Internet service providers to install hardware on their networks that monitored users' Internet activities and transmitted that data to NebuAd's servers for analysis and use in marketing. For an average of six months, NebuAd copied every e-mail, Web search or purchase that some 400,000 people sent over the Internet. Other companies, like Healthline Networks Inc., have in-house limits on which private information they will collect. Healthline does not use information about people's searches related to H.I.V., impotence or eating disorders to target ads to people, but it will use information about bipolar disorder, overactive bladder and anxiety, which can be as stigmatizing as the topics on its privacy-protected list.

In the 1970s, a professor of communication studies at Northwestern University named John McKnight popularized the term "redlining" to describe the failure of banks, insurers and other institutions to offer their services to inner city neighborhoods. The term came from the practice of bank officials who drew a red line on a map to indicate where they wouldn't invest. But use of the term expanded to cover a wide array of racially discriminatory practices, such as not offering home loans to African-Americans, even those who were wealthy or middle class.

Now the map used in redlining is not a geographic map, but the map of your travels across the Web. The term Weblining describes the practice of denying people opportunities based on their digital selves. You might be refused health insurance based on a Google search you did about a medical condition. You might be shown a credit card with a lower credit limit, not because of your credit history, but because of your race, sex or ZIP code or the types of Web sites you visit.

Data aggregation has social implications as well. When young people in poor neighborhoods are bombarded with advertisements for trade schools, will they be more likely than others their age to forgo college? And when women are shown articles about celebrities rather than stock market trends, will they be less likely to develop financial savvy? Advertisers are drawing new redlines, limiting people to the roles society expects them to play.

Data aggregators' practices conflict with what people say they want. A 2008 Consumer Reports poll of 2,000 people found that 93 percent thought Internet companies should always ask for permission before using personal information, and 72 percent wanted the right to opt out of online tracking. A study by Princeton Survey Research Associates in 2009 using a random sample of 1,000 people found that 69 percent thought that the United States should adopt a law giving people the right to learn everything a Web site knows about them. We need a do-not-track law, similar to the do-not-call one. Now it's not just about whether my dinner will be interrupted by a telemarketer. It's about whether my dreams will be dashed by the collection of bits and bytes over which I have no control and for which companies are currently unaccountable.

Lori Andrews is a law professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law and the author of "I Know Who You Are and I Saw What You Did: Social Networks and the Death of Privacy."

A version of this op-ed appeared in print on February 5, 2012, on page SR7 of the New York edition with the headline: Facebook Is Using You.

[Jul 3, 2012] Criticism of Facebook - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[Jul 2, 2012] With Search+, Google Fires Another Shot at Facebook Wired Business by Mike Isaak

Jan 10, 2012 |

If last year's launch of Google+ was the search giant's first shot in the social wars, consider the new Search plus Your World product its Blitzkrieg.

Launched Tuesday, Google's new Search+ initiative integrates results culled from your Google+ social network connections into Google search queries, a major step into providing relevant social content into the company's namesake product.

When you search for a term - say, "Netflix," for example - the new product will serve up private and public instances of "Netflix" pulled from people you're connected with on Google+, including photos, links and status updates. In addition, relevant Google+ profiles, personalities and brand pages will also be folded into results.

So a search for Netflix could yield the official site, a news story about the company, a link to a friend from Google+ talking about Netflx, and the like. Further, all of these results are tailored specifically to those friends in your network, so each person's results will be personalized and completely different.

See also: 'Has Google Popped the Filter Bubble?' By Steven Levy

It's a huge move for Google, a company which made its bilions indexing web pages with its advanced algorithms. The company's origins are rooted in text-based search, using Larry Page's now-famous "Page Rank" system to create a hierarchy of relevancy for when users entered search queries. Over the years, search progressed: Google added video, images, its Instant product, and the like. The early Oughts gave rise to an age of search, so much so that "Googling" was deemed a verb in our official English lexicon.

But as the decade progressed, another phenomenon began to take over - social. Facebook grew from a small site created in Mark Zuckerberg's Harvard dorm room to a global presence, now boasting over 800 million users. Twitter sees millions of tweets pass through its pipes monthly. Social network LinkedIn is one of the most watched companies in the Valley. And social gaming giant Zynga just filed a multi-billion-dollar IPO in December.

And as users flocked to the platform, a different kind of search evolved. It was a search based on items which users didn't even know they wanted. Facebook begat "likes," a way of notifying others that you like (or are at the very least interested in) something. 'Likes' spread fast, and liking became another way to find new and relevant content from friends.

And as Facebook widened its reach over time, Google fell further and further behind.

"One of the signals that we haven't take as much advantage of as we should have is that all of [our search results] were written by people," said Jack Menzel, director of search product management, in an interview at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). "And you, the searcher, are a unique person, looking for info specifically relevant to you."

So the introduction of Google's new Search+ additions ultimately serve a twofold purpose: First, Google is using the strength of its insanely popular search product to bolster its fledgling social network. As of today, Google+ has a user base somewhere in the tens of millions - far behind that of Facebook. Considering the millions upon millions of search queries entered every single day, and the implications of folding Google+ information into those results, it's a easy way to leverage the power of Google's existing properties into beefing up its young one.

Second, it provides Google with an entire cache of new information relevance. Google and Facebook made headlines last year after Google alluded to issues with indexing Facebook users' individual profile data for Google's search results. In vague terms, Google search seemed limited in how much Facebook data it was privy to. And in an age where social sharing has grown far more relevant than ever before, that's a huge chunk of pertinent information.

So Google has decided to go within for that data. User posts and data can now be searched for relevant content, and served up to individuals. While it's nowhere near as extensive as Facebook's treasure trove of personal data, it's a fine start for Google's push into social.

The new products could, however, yield a number of problems for Google. For instance, if a user searches for a recent New York Times article using Google and search results yield both the article itself and a post from a Google+ friend who shared the article, the user may click on the friend's shared result, possibly read the headline and not end up going to the publisher's site, instead sticking inside of the Google+ environment. That means fewer clicks for The New York Times, and few ad dollars in the long run.

Further, Google has never had much luck in the realm of privacy, and adding personal results to search queries could cause user upheaval. Privacy scares and Google aren't strangers.

[Jul 2, 2012] Student campaigns against Facebook data collection - News ...

And Mark Zuckerberg's social network could reportedly face a fine if auditors uncover any breaches of data protection law in an investigation planned for the next ten days.

"I was given a CD with all of the information about friend requests I had ignored, people I had 'defriended', even messages I had deleted. Facebook had kept it all. The scary thing was, with a simple 'Ctrl+F' search function on the computer, I could search for terms and key words. I found it was possible to build up a picture of who I am, what I like, who I might vote for," said Mr Schrems.

He added: "There is a lot of data in there which is personal, which people might want to delete at some point but which Facebook is keeping hold of. And, since it is held in the USA, Europeans do not have the same sort of protection as they might have at home. They are subject to American laws like the Patriot Act, which could mean their data is released without their consent."

Mr Schrems, who has set up a website for his campaign called 'Europe versus Facebook', said he was confident of winning on "at least a few of the counts".

Facebook said it provided Mr Schrems with "all of the information required in response to his request". A spokesman added that some of the data requests would have required Facebook to give away the "secrets" of how its algorithms work.

She said the requests covered "a range of other things that are not personal information, including Facebook's proprietary fraud protection measures, and 'any other analytical procedure that Facebook runs'. This is clearly not personal data, and Irish data protection law rightly places some valuable and reasonable limits on the data that has to be provided".

The spokeswoman said: "The allegations are false. For example, we enable you to send emails to your friends, inviting them to join Facebook. We keep the invitees' email address and name to let you know when they join the service.

"Also, as part of offering people messaging services, we enable people to delete messages they receive from their inbox and messages they send from their sent folder. However, people can't delete a message they send from the recipient's inbox or a message you receive from the sender's sent folder," the spokeswoman added.

[Jul 2, 2012] Is Facebook a Passing Fad Nearly Half of Americans Think So [STUDY]

Facebook is a data collection agency masquerading as a social site

Nearly half of Americans believe that popular social-networking site Facebook is merely a passing fad, a new study suggests.

A poll conducted by the Associated Press and CNBC found that 46% of respondents think Facebook will fade away as new platforms come along in the future. However, about 43% believe the site will likely be successful for the long haul.

The study was conducted among 1,000 Americans ages 18 and over, with a margin of error of 3.9%.

The survey comes as Facebook readies for its initial public offering later this week. The company confirmed on Tuesday that shares will be priced between $34 and $38, with the company's valuation at more than $100 billion.

[Jul 2, 2012] At Social Site, Only the Businesslike Need Apply By BRAD STONE

Jun 18, 2008 |

For a Web site, it could hardly look less exciting. Its pages are heavy with text, much of it a flat blue, and there are few photos and absolutely no videos.

But LinkedIn, the social network for professionals, is dull by design. Unlike Facebook and MySpace, the site is aimed at career-minded, white-collar workers, people who join more for the networking than the social.

Now, in the midst of Silicon Valley's recession-proof enthusiasm for community-oriented Web sites, the most boring of the social networks is finally grabbing the spotlight.

On Wednesday, LinkedIn will announce that it has raised $53 million in capital, primarily from Bain Capital Ventures, a Boston-based private equity firm. The new financing round values the company at $1 billion. That heady valuation is more than the $580 million that the News Corporation paid for MySpace in 2005, but less than the $15 billion value assigned to Facebook last year when Microsoft bought a minority stake.

LinkedIn's investment round delays a rumored initial public offering, which would have finally tested the public market's interest in social networking.

"What we didn't want is to have the distraction of being public and to be worried by quarterly performance," said Dan Nye, the buttoned-down chief executive of LinkedIn, who would not be caught dead in the Birkenstocks and rumpled T-shirts favored by MySpace and Facebook employees.

LinkedIn, which says it is already profitable, will use the investment to make acquisitions and expand its overseas operations.

"We want to create a broad and critical business tool that is used by tens of millions of business professionals every day to make them better at what they do," Mr. Nye said.

The average age of a LinkedIn user is 41, the point in life where people are less likely to build their digital identities around dates, parties and photos of revelry.

LinkedIn gives professionals, even the most hopeless wallflower, a painless way to follow the advice of every career counselor: build a network. Users maintain online résumés, establish links with colleagues and business acquaintances and then expand their networks to the contacts of their contacts. The service also helps them search for experts who can help them solve daily business problems.

The four-year-old site is decidedly antisocial: only last fall, after what executives describe as a year of intense debate, did the company ask members to add photos to their profiles.

That business-only-please strategy appears to be paying off. The number of people using LinkedIn, based in Mountain View, Calif., tripled in May over the previous year, according to Nielsen Online. At 23 million members, LinkedIn remains far smaller than Facebook and MySpace, each with 115 million members, but it is growing considerably faster.

LinkedIn also has a more diversified approach to making money than its entertainment-oriented rivals, which are struggling to bring in ad dollars and keep up with inflated expectations for increased revenue.

LinkedIn will get only a quarter of its projected $100 million in revenue this year from ads. (It places ads from companies like Microsoft and Southwest Airlines on profile pages.) Other moneymakers include premium subscriptions, which let users directly contact any user on the site instead of requiring an introduction from another member.

A third source of revenue is recruitment tools that companies can use to find people who may not even be actively looking for new jobs. Companies pay to search for candidates with specific skills, and each day, they get new prospects as people who fit their criteria join LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is set to undergo a radical shift in strategy to find other sources of revenue. Instead of catering primarily to individual white-collar workers, the site will soon introduce new services aimed at companies. It is a risky move that could alienate members who prefer to use the networking site to network - without their bosses peering over their shoulders.

One new product, Company Groups, automatically gathers all the employees from a company who use LinkedIn into a single, private Web forum. Employees can pose questions to each other, and share and discuss news articles about their industry.

Soon, LinkedIn plans to add additional features, like a group calendar, and let independent developers contribute their own programs that will allow employees to collaborate on projects.

The idea is to let firms exploit their employees' social connections, institutional memories and special skills - knowledge that large, geographically dispersed companies often have a difficult time obtaining.

For example, in a test of the feature by AKQA, a digital ad agency in San Francisco, an employee based in Amsterdam recently asked her 350 colleagues on LinkedIn if the firm had done any previous work for television production companies. Executives in San Francisco, New York and London promptly responded to the query.

"This is a collected, protected space for employees to talk to each other and reference outside information," said Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn's founder and chairman.

Becoming even more corporate is something of a gamble for LinkedIn. Many companies might resist the idea of confidential corporate information circulating on LinkedIn's servers - and perhaps being exposed to former employees who are included in the group because they have not updated their LinkedIn résumés. (LinkedIn says every member of a company group can remove people whom they identify as former workers or interlopers.)

Diffusing the purpose of the site might also repel some users.

"It will be extraordinarily challenging to simultaneously serve as a corporate tool and yet promote the 'brand of me' in an emerging free-agent nation," said Keith Rabois, a former LinkedIn executive who is now vice president at Slide, a maker of applications for social networks.

Jeffrey Glass, a partner at Bain Capital, says his firm invested in LinkedIn primarily because it is now becoming popular enough to introduce these kinds of products to companies and other organizations, like universities.

"This is a powerful tool because inside the corporation, there are massive bodies of knowledge and relationships between individuals that the corporation has been unable to take advantage of until now," he said.

The new services could help LinkedIn fend off some new competition. Microsoft, long covetous of rapidly growing social-networking properties, is internally testing a service called TownSquare that allows employees of a company to follow one another's activities on the corporate network.

Executives at Facebook, meanwhile, have recently said that they see networking tools for professionals as a primary avenue of growth. The site recently added networking to the list of options that new users select when they are asked to specify what they intend to do on the site.

Mr. Hoffman was an early investor in Facebook and says he does not want to disparage the competition. But he said that most members of Facebook who are older than 30 use it for entertainment, like playing Scrabulous, a version of Scrabble - not for doing their jobs.

"Scrabulous is not work, and it does not enable you to be an effective professional," he said.

[Jul 2, 2012] Facebook faces criticism on privacy change

December 10, 2009 | BBC News

Critics say people could accidentally share too much information

Digital rights groups and bloggers have heaped criticism on Facebook's changed privacy policy.

Critics said the changes were unwelcome and "nudged" people towards sharing updates with the wider web and made them findable via search engines.

The changes were introduced on 9 December via a pop-up that asked users to update privacy settings.

Facebook said the changes help members manage updates they wanted to share, not trick them into revealing too much.

"Facebook is nudging the settings toward the 'disclose everything' position," said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the US Electronic Privacy Information Center (Epic). "That's not fair from the privacy perspective."

Epic said it was analysing the changes to see if they amounted to trickery.

Control reduction

In a statement, the Electronic Frontier Foundation said: "These new 'privacy' changes are clearly intended to push Facebook users to publicly share even more information than before. "

It added: "Even worse, the changes will actually reduce the amount of control that users have over some of their personal data."

Facebook began testing the privacy changes during mid-2009 before introducing them site-wide. The changes let people decide who should see updates, whether all 350 million Facebook members should see them, and if they should be viewable across the web.

Barry Schnitt, a Facebook spokesman, said users could avoid revealing some information to non-friends by leaving gender and location fields blank.

He said the changes to privacy made it easier to tune the audience for an update or status change so default settings of openness should have less impact.

"Any suggestion that we're trying to trick them into something would work against any goal that we have," said Mr Schnitt.

Facebook would encourage people to be more open with their updates because, he said, that was in line with "the way the world is moving".

Assessing the changes, privacy campaigners criticised a decision to make Facebook users' gender and location viewable by everyone.

Jason Kincaid, writing on the Tech Crunch news blog, said some of the changes were made to make Facebook more palatable to search sites such as Bing and Google.

Blogger Marshall Kirkpatrick was worried that the default setting for privacy was to make everything visible to everyone.

"This is not what Facebook users signed up for," he wrote. "It's not about privacy at all, it's about increasing traffic and the visibility of activity on the site."

He also criticised the fact that the pop-up message that greets members asking them to change their privacy settings was different depending on how engaged that person was with Facebook.

He said Facebook was "maddeningly unclear" about the effect of the changes.

Many users left comments on the official Facebook blog criticising the changes. Some said they had edited their profiles and reduced their use of the social site to hide information they do not want widely spread either by accident or design.



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