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NSA Is Building a New Datacenter In San Antonio

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the panopticon-economy dept.

Privacy 119

An anonymous reader writes in with an article from a Texas paper on the NSA's new facility in San Antonio. "America's top spy agency has taken over the former Sony microchip plant and is transforming it into a new data-mining headquarters... where billions of electronic communications will be sifted in the agency's mission to identify terrorist threats. ... [Author James] Bamford writes about how NSA and Microsoft had both been eyeing San Antonio for years because it has the cheapest electricity in Texas, and the state has its own power grid, making it less vulnerable to power outages on the national grid. He notes that it seemed the NSA wanted assurance Microsoft would be here, too, before making a final commitment, due to the advantages of 'having their miners virtually next door to the mother lode of data centers.' The new NSA facility is just a few miles from Microsoft's data center of the same size. Bamford says that under current law, NSA could gain access to Microsoft's stored data without even a warrant, but merely a fiber-optic cable." The article mentions the NRC report concluding that data mining is ineffective as a tactic against terrorism, which we discussed a couple of months back.

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Terrorism? (5, Insightful)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 5 years ago | (#26018273)

The article mentions the NRC report concluding that data mining is ineffective as a tactic against terrorism
Anyone wanna bet that Obama won't do a damn thing about these obvious attempts to spy on American citizens?

Re:Terrorism? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26018347)

I'm sure before someone becomes electable they have to be part of the government culture that assumes surveillance to *always* be a good thing. Obama probably won't be the enthusiastic fascist that Bush was, but I think you're right in assuming he won't be shutting this down in the interest of privacy either.

It won't be shut down because there's no outcry (1)

Chmcginn (201645) | more than 5 years ago | (#26018411)

The once Senator & future President has expressed a desire to shut down some of the most egregious abuses of power that Mr. Bush came up with. But the difference between Camp X-ray, warrantless wiretaps of phone calls, and monitoring of online traffic is a sliding scale of outrage - many more people care about Gitmo than about the wiretaps, and many more people care about the wiretaps than online monitoring. Like everything else in life, it's about ordering your priorities.

Re:It won't be shut down because there's no outcry (5, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 5 years ago | (#26018469)

The once Senator & future President has expressed a desire to shut down some of the most egregious abuses of power that Mr. Bush came up with.

I am highly skeptical that he'll do anything of the kind. I hope I'm wrong.

-jcr

Re:It won't be shut down because there's no outcry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26019325)

1. Go to www.Change.org

2. submit a proposal for which specific policies should be shut down.

3. use social networking to get the world to notice and vote-up the proposal

4. ???

5. Profit!

6. And then what?

Re:It won't be shut down because there's no outcry (1)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 5 years ago | (#26019367)

Maybe he ignores it, maybe not, but it sure is an interesting shift in presidential policy to actually bother setting such a thing up.

Re:It won't be shut down because there's no outcry (2, Interesting)

sleigher (961421) | more than 5 years ago | (#26020293)

I agree, but let's not forget the system he had in place before the election and how that helped him. The first question I had after he was elected was what will he do with this massive communication system he has built? Seems he intends to keep using it, which I think is a step in the right direction.

Re:It won't be shut down because there's no outcry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26019401)

>6. And then what?

Hopefully lots of ponies!

PONIES FOR ALL!

Change indeed.

Re:It won't be shut down because there's no outcry (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 5 years ago | (#26025935)

I think he will, simply because stopping taxpayers money being funnelled into the pockets of his political enemies for no good reason if to his advantage.

Stopping some of the bizzare bits of security theatre is another thing. Stopping situations where security theatre has been used as an excuse to expand intelligence gathering into areas where it previously didn't go is yet another thing and would probably take a few administrations to find and stop. Think of Kennedy and the FBI and CIA of the time that were so blatantly corrupt - it took years to clean that up and some weird legacies of the corruption still stand (mind reading device created by a comic artist FFS!).

I also think McCain would have shut many things down in an attempt to bring some of these spooks back under adult supervision. To see what could happen if the spooks ever get in a situation where they get more and more power and think they are better off running the place look at Russia, or consider a few other places in the third world where they are not as well behaved. Neither party wants that but an inept administration ended up with a lot of things it really didn't want.

Re:It won't be shut down because there's no outcry (1)

neomunk (913773) | more than 5 years ago | (#26021615)

I see. So what you're saying is that the one hand pushes us 5 toward authoritarianism and the other pulls us back 2 or 3. It seems to me that this has been going on since the 60s, or earlier. Frankly, I'm a bit tired of this arrangement, and would feel foolish for cheerleading the 2 steps back portion of the dance now that the pattern has been established so thoroughly.

If, once in my life, I saw 6 steps taken back, I'd perhaps begin to cheer again.

Maybe U.S. citizens will support prosecution. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26018533)

What Obama can do is limited to what the citizens of the U.S. will support. Maybe U.S. citizens will support prosecution. Read the article in Harper's Magazine: Justice after Bush: Prosecuting an outlaw administration [harpers.org] .

I think a lot of what the NSA does is just a smokescreen for the real purpose of the NSA, which is surveillance that gives someone an economic advantage. Certainly the NSA doesn't want to eliminate terrorists, because that would eventually cause the elimination of funding for the NSA. Any secret agency will eventually, or soon, become out of control.

Re:Maybe U.S. citizens will support prosecution. (2, Insightful)

Kagura (843695) | more than 5 years ago | (#26020169)

From the summary/article:

America's top spy agency has taken over the former Sony microchip plant and is transforming it into a new data-mining headquarters

Sorry in advance, but I went ahead and read (some of) the article. Anyway, I'm having trouble believing for sure that this facility is a datacenter. Considering it's located at the site of a previous chip fab, it makes sense to me that it would stay a chip fab.

The only source that says this will be used for datamining isn't even the article author, but rather the author of a book who hasn't worked for the NSA for 25 years. These are quotes from this book:

No longer able to store all the intercepted phone calls and e-mail in its secret city, the agency has now built a new data warehouse in San Antonio, Texas," writes author James Bamford in the Shadow Factory, his third book about the NSA. "Costing, with renovations, upwards of $130 million, the 470,000-square-foot facility will be almost the size of the Alamodome. Considering how much data can now be squeezed onto a small flash drive, the new NSA building may eventually be able to hold all the information in the world."

So just what will be going on inside the NSA's new San Antonio facility? Bamford describes former NSA Director Mike Hayden's goals for the data-mining center as knowing "exactly what Americans were doing day by day, hour by hour, and second by second. He wanted to know where they shopped, what they bought, what movies they saw, what books they read, the toll booths they went through, the plane tickets they purchased, the hotels they stayed in... In other words, Total Information Awareness, the same Orwellian concept ...

The new NSA facility is just a few miles from Microsoft's data center of the same size. Bamford says that under current law, NSA could gain access to Microsoft's stored data without even a warrant, but merely a fiber-optic cable.

What the Microsoft people will have will be just storage of a lot of the email that is being sent. They keep this email -- I don't know why -- and there should be some legislation saying how long it should be kept," said Bamford in a phone interview last week. "The post office doesn't keep copies of our letters when we mail letters; why should the telecom companies or the internet providers keep copies of our email? It doesn't make sense to me.

That's a big wall of quotes. The author [wikipedia.org] of the book knew what he was talking about when he wrote his first book back in 1982, which was the first book revealing the existence of the NSA. Over the years he's written a lot of articles and books about the necessity of oversight, which is very, very good, but based on some excerpts [panopticonic.com] of his book, I'm not convinced that he exactly understands the some of the issues he talks about nowadays, and I'm not convinced that this is a datacenter or a datacenter for datamining.

Note that my post is not talking about whether the NSA is actually data-mining or not, or whether it's warranted or not... it's just a post about the supposed purpose of this particular Texas facility.

Re:Maybe U.S. citizens will support prosecution. (2)

aurispector (530273) | more than 5 years ago | (#26021101)

Given the history and function of the the NSA, it probably isn't going to be doing data mining, or anything else that they actually SAY it's going to be doing.

How's this for paranoia:

It's likely that the NSA cut a deal with Microsoft decades ago to allow a back door into any system running MS products. The Chinese now manufacture most of the computer hardware and are working to include hardware based, OS-independent back doors into as many systems as they can. Since a back door built into a chip is almost undetectable, the NSA is ramping up it's ability to counter hardware-based system intrusions and they require chip fabbing abilities to accomplish this. The nearby MS facility serves as a convenient repository of OS & systems expertise in order to seamlessly integrate the american controlled hardware based back doors into the OS.

Paranoid enough?

OK, time to go back on the meds...

Re:Maybe U.S. citizens will support prosecution. (1)

jftitan (736933) | more than 5 years ago | (#26021951)

damn you... where is my tinfoil hat. who knows how to make a Faraday cage.

Re:Maybe U.S. citizens will support prosecution. (1)

Jorophose (1062218) | more than 5 years ago | (#26024025)

Clever plot but I do believe you're wrong.

Yes, the Chinese [wikipedia.org] certainly make a lot of computer hardware, but those aren't quite the chinese you were thinking of. Not to mention the Thai, the Singaporians, the Germans, even the French and the Americans who do also manufacture a lot of your computer parts.

A backdoor for the NSA in microsoft products is not unfathomable; if they were determined they'd do it. Then again, SELinux is funded by the NSA, so I don't quite know how that all fits in...

Re:Maybe U.S. citizens will support prosecution. (1)

Anpheus (908711) | more than 5 years ago | (#26025073)

Since SELinux was developed by the NSA, it has to have backdoors.

But it's open source and part of Linux, so it must be airtight.

*head explode*

(Maybe generalities are bad?)

Re:Terrorism? (3, Funny)

some_guy_88 (1306769) | more than 5 years ago | (#26018385)

data mining is ineffective as a tactic against terrorism

Don't be silly. Everyone knows terrorists don't use encryption..

Re:Terrorism? (5, Insightful)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#26018511)

This isn't about terrorism.

This is about catching other types of criminals like people distributing images of child sex, people discussing marijuana growing, people discussing anti-government ideas (i.e. like the LP), and so on. It's a way to circumvent the Constitution's requirement for a search warrant.

Re:Terrorism? (1)

drspliff (652992) | more than 5 years ago | (#26018573)

How about this: for every new monitoring scheme they setup they repeal a whole bunch of useless or minor laws. Presumably you'd want them repealing enough laws that very quickly they'd have to make fundamental choices about what to repeal or to stop monitoring and reach a sort of equilibreum.

A stupid pipe dream I know, bringing sanity into the world is frowned upon.

Re:Terrorism? (1)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 5 years ago | (#26021967)

Even better would be to require that all laws have sunset clauses, and can't be re-upped more than 30 days before they are to expire.

Ask ELIOT SPITZER if they're spying on us.... (1)

mikelieman (35628) | more than 5 years ago | (#26020465)

A political enemy, phone records, bank records and a SQL query.

Re:Terrorism? (1)

eulernet (1132389) | more than 5 years ago | (#26018961)

I don't think that the data mining will be dedicated on spying american citizens, since NSA is probably trying to spy the whole world electronically.
Of course, american citizens will be the first victims, as usual.
And this is called 'beta-testers' in Microsoft terminology ;-)

Re:Terrorism? (4, Insightful)

Haeleth (414428) | more than 5 years ago | (#26019225)

Anyone wanna bet that Obama won't do a damn thing about these obvious attempts to spy on American citizens?

I find your paranoia (and that of many other Slashdotters) interesting. Why are so many Americans so certain that everything their government does is an attempt to oppress them? NSA's mission is foreign intelligence. That means that most of what they do is about spying on people who are not American citizens. Believe it or not, the world out here is really quite big. Did you know that there are actually more non-Americans than Americans on the Internet? There's plenty of non-American data for NSA to mine, if data mining is what they want to do.

You are not the centre of the universe. You are not the only thing your government cares about. You are not being spied on with satellite mind-control rays. Get over yourselves and drop the conspiracy crap, please.

Or, you know, go and collect loads of guns and hole yourself up in a log cabin in the mountains while you wait for the Rapture. They can't eavesdrop on your communications if you're only communicating with the Lord!

(Oh noes! I have disagreed with teh groupthink! Negative mods coming in 3... 2... 1...)

Re:Terrorism? (2, Insightful)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 5 years ago | (#26019633)

"Why are so many Americans so certain that everything their government does is an attempt to oppress them?"
"Why are so many Canadians so certain that everything their government does is an attempt to oppress them?"
"Why are so many Brits so certain that everything their government does is an attempt to oppress them?"
"Why are so many Aussies so certain that everything their government does is an attempt to oppress them?"
"Why are so many ...."
Because they swap data, personally that hardly makes me certain they are out to oppress me but it is a valid concern.

Re:Terrorism? (1)

fibrewire (1132953) | more than 5 years ago | (#26020013)

Hehe... I concur. Also the NSA just wants to see how many secrets the Vatican has stolen from the US. Among them are technical nuclear weapons documents that the Roman Catholic Church used to steer the outcome of wars! NSA = Prevent the Rapture... CONSPIRACY!!! http://www.exposingsatanism.org/illuminati-vatican-cia-documents.htm [exposingsatanism.org] I crack me up!

Re:Terrorism? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26020209)

...given that there is so much NON American data out there, and this country is reeling from a collapsing economy, it might be more cost effective to spy domestically for foreign threats. Some of the more effective acts of terror were committed by people RIGHT HERE AT HOME, occasionally with foreign financing. No, we're not the center of the universe, and because we are not, it is cheaper for our government to violate our civil rights within our borders in order to increase our perception of "security". Anything bad that happens, well, we can blame on the terror flavor of the week, can't we?

Re:Terrorism? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26020323)

I totally agree, even the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Washington Post are just being paranoid, for years already. The NSA obviously is just using it's very limited amount of technical means only for foreign intelligence. Domestic spying? This would never happen! The CIA always operated within the room given to it by the law, just like the FBI and all the other institutions that have the ability to gather intelligence. I mean c'mon, they have vowed to uphold the law so they will. And besides, the executive branch has been very transparent the last couple of years about this!
So please move on.., nothing to see here.

If anyone claims to care about this at all... (2, Interesting)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 5 years ago | (#26020343)

...they would do good to read at least this portion of a speech by Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell [dni.gov] at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government just last week.

I find it interesting that the linked "article" is actually an opinion piece from an "alternative newsweekly". It makes a lot of assumptions and unwarranted logical leaps; long on paranoia and short on facts. In any event, here's bit of history, with the important parts in bold. I doubt many people will be interested in what the leaders in the Intelligence Community actually have to say for themselves, their missions, and the law.

What is intelligence? If I asked this audience, what is it? You probably would struggle a little bit. I saw a movie, I read a book, I know a little bit about it. But let me sort of break it down into parts for you and then I want to talk about the community and how it's vital that we have such a community and why it's such a challenge for the American people.

First of all, when you collect intelligence, there are esoteric parts of it that basically comes down to taking a photograph - take a photograph of military equipment or geography, or people, or something, but you capture something that you want to examine later on. People communicate and you can listen to that communication, intercept it, process it, know when it turned on, when it turned off, and you can get lots of information from it. Or you can recruit a spy. A spy is someone who will share information that's secret, that's privileged inside a government or an organization that will share it with you. Those are the basic building blocks of intelligence. There's other little esoteric pieces, as I mentioned.

So when you look at us as a nation, we have an organization that takes pictures from space, from airplanes. They use that to make maps. They use it to make foundation for the geographic tracking of the world. They look for weapons systems. They look for mobilization. They're always looking for information from the context of the photographs. We have an organization. It's called the NGA, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. We have another one called the National Security Agency, the one I was privileged to lead. I will use an example that's historical: World War II.

In World War II, the great secret was that we were listening to and reading German high command communications from very early in the war. That was a strategic advantage that we enjoyed for the entire war. Now, think about that for a second. We are reading code to know what their orders are to the German field commanders. Often, we were reading it and understanding it before the German commanders could break it and decrypt it.

How do you now handle that information? Does the American public have a right to know? Now, think about the context. You're in global conflict, you're reading the communications of the enemy, and if it's compromised they'll change the rotors and their encryption system is gone. And I've just introduced you now to the issue of sharing information and protection of sources and methods.

The primary responsibility that I have was that the new Director of National Intelligence is to cause these agencies - the three I've just mentioned - to share information across boundaries and at the same time protect sources and methods. If we have this very vital source of information that's allowing to either understand or intercept or have an appreciation for an issue that's vital to the country, do we want that to appear on the front page of the newspaper? So that's the dilemma we're always attempting to balance.

Now, let me give you a little more context. If you look at the history of intelligence, we're not very prepared for anything that's ever happened. It's because Americans don't like spies. Think about our Constitution, the framing of the Constitution, the framework of the time. It's expensive. If you think about spies in most of the 180 or so countries in the world, it's an internal police force used against its own people to keep someone in power. So when you think about it, it's not something that you want to embrace. So the history of the United States is we invent it when we need it and we built it up and then soon as the crisis is over, we take it down.

The first spymaster was George Washington. Invented his own encryption codes, ran his own agents. He was a spymaster, and a very good one. But as soon as it's over, you dismantle all that. Now, we went into World War II. We were not prepared and we had to build up two very significant capabilities. One is code-breaking; breaking the German Enigma code that I mentioned. Two brave Polish Army officers captured the machine, smuggled it to Sweden, smuggled it to Norway and smuggled it to U.K. and the U.K. was doing okay except they got more and more complex and they needed more brain power, more compute power. The United States of America invented computers in World War II to solve that problem and that early going is what we called the National Security Agency today.

The second thing is humans - humans that were willing to risk their lives to parachute behind the lines to run resistance movements to be able to resist what was going on. That's called HUMINT, human intelligence. So we did HUMINT and we did SIGINT, signals intelligence. So the shorthand in our worlds - SIGINT means you're listening to somebody talk, you're exploiting the fact that they're communicating, and HUMINT means you are among humans attempting to recruit a spy or run an operation in the resistance movement. That's what we did in World War II and we did it very effectively.

What did we decide to do as soon as World War II was over? Well, let's get rid of that stuff. Why would we need it for the future? Winston Churchill did us a favor. He kept coming up with clever terms: Cold War, Iron Curtain, bipolar world, threat of nuclear war. So we have a different paradigm. So the nation went through a debate in the late '40s and produced the National Security of Act 1947. In that act, for the first time the nation committed to an Intelligence Community. We created the CIA, the Central Intelligence Agency. They do HUMINT, human intelligence. And a DCI, the Director of Central Intelligence as the manager of the community.

Now, all the other resources were somewhere else and the DCI was managing as the Director of CIA, supposedly across the community, and that's how we're going to do intelligence for the nation for this thing called the Cold War. Well, what did we do in the Cold War? Mostly technology. We deemphasized HUMINT - hard to get agents to penetrate in a place like the Soviet Union. Denied territory. So what we did was invent new technology, technology that had never been thought of before. We captured high ground: space. We got up high and we looked down. Now, think about 13, 14 time zones of denied territory, can't get in, can't see, can't listen, no access. So we just went high and looked down. And so for the entire Cold War, the Russians could not think about, design, produce, test, or field a weapons systems that we didn't understand a great deal about. Usually all the countermeasures were built by the time they would field the equipment - incredible contribution.

We deemphasized HUMINT and we emphasized space and we also emphasized signals intelligence. That carried us through the Cold War. The Cold War ended and we all stood around and looked at each other and said, what do we do now? I won't try to make this too esoteric, but during that period, most communications were analog and at this end of the Soviet Union, the world became digital. The world became the Internet and the world became one global net. So you had a series of players that had been active for years and years having to go through a transformation - a new President, new priorities, what's the threat really, and so we debated.

And as usual, when 9/11 occurred, we were not prepared. We weren't ready because we had designed a system for a different purpose. Let me give you a couple of insights. The worry has always been if this global intrusive capability can listen to communications, how do we trust those guys? And our track record wasn't too good. If you look back over our history, the executive branch had used the community a number of times to conduct spying activities against Americans. It was wrong. The oversight wasn't sufficient and it was corrected in time. We actually had a period in our history where the chief justice of the Supreme Court back in the '50s had his telephoned tapped, as was one of the other justices, for what was supposed to be legitimate reasons, but it was not legitimate. That was discovered.

And I'll fast forward to a period of Watergate, when the community was used to do a lot of intrusive observation. Out of that came a bill called FISA, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Here was the dilemma. We need this large, robust, wonderful capability to protect us in the context of the Cold War, but we can't allow it to conduct any observation of U.S. citizens. And our wonderful democracy, we want it both ways. Don't let anybody bother us, make sure we're safe, but don't do anything to look at anything that might reflect my activity.

So the law in 1978 said okay to observe foreign, but if you observe anything in the United States, U.S. person for a foreign intelligence purpose, you must have a warrant. That was the law of the land, but it was an analog law. Where we found ourselves most recently is it's one global network. And so communications overseas by foreigners - terrorists plotting to attack the United States - those communications were passing through the United States. If you go back to the old analog law, it said if you take information from a wire, even though it's a glass pipe called fiber on a wire in the United States, you must have a warrant. So the dilemma for us was we had a terrorist overseas plotting to attack us by speaking with a terrorist in another overseas location and the community was required to get a warrant.

The debate and the dilemma for us is how do you modernize that law for the modern age? And we debated. For two years we debated and we finally came to closure. The good news is when it was finally voted, two-thirds of the House and two-thirds of the Senate voted for it and here's what it says today: if it's a U.S. person anywhere in the globe, you must have a warrant. A judge must grant you to conduct surveillance and the purpose of the surveillance can only be for one thing, foreign intelligence. Now, why would you do surveillance of a U.S. person for foreign surveillance? What if it's a spy that's been recruited by a foreign agent and you need to know what they're giving away? You would then have a warrant for surveillance of that person for a foreign intelligence purpose.

The other part of the law is no warrant for a foreign target regardless of where or how you intercept it. And the third part of the law was in today's world it's digital, it's global - you can't do it without the help of the private sector and so the private sector was authorized to give us that help and provided a level of liability protection.

That's the kind of dilemma that we face in making sure we balance our responsibilities for conducting surveillance of foreign targets that might wish us harm and respecting the civil liberties and privacy of American citizens.

Now, I'm talking process. Most of you probably came to hear something about the substance of the current threats. The time limit is pretty tight on what I can say up front, so I'm going to leave a lot of that for your questions. But let me make reference to a public document that we just put out about two weeks ago. It's the trends document that we do every four years. We do it for the new President and it's published just before the inauguration.

What it says is that, on unclassified level, based on our research around the globe, here's our best guest for the next 20 years. And in that assessment which is unclassified, it's on the web at DNI.gov - you can go there and download it if you'd like to do so - it has some pretty alarming information in it. It says the threat of terrorism is going up. It says the residual terrorist threat will be around for a long, long time. The terrorist organizations are adaptive and resilient and determined. It says competition for energy. It says nation-states will probably have conflict over energy resources. It says water is going to go down in terms of availability. It says the price of food is going to go up 50 to 100 percent. Energy resources have become more scarce.

So as we face the future, adding weapons of mass destruction, to include biological, which is my personal greatest worry, we have a situation where we have a large community of professionals. Their responsibility is to track and understand those threats, to have inside understanding and prepare the Congress or the executive branch with sufficient information so they can understand, plan, and adjust the policy to confront those threats. That's what we do every day. That's why my day starts early. It is a privilege. It's quite a thrill for someone to be able to go in and sit down and speak with the President of the United States every day. We do it six days a week. The President-elect is doing it seven days a week. I don't know if there's a little competition there or not - (laughter) - but it's seven days a week. And the se! ssions last somewhere between 30 minutes to almost an hour. And the subjects are absolutely incredible. The speed with which these two particular gentlemen absorb information and move on is astounding. But we go through a great deal of substance on any topic you can imagine in the context of national security or potential threats to the United States.

So I'm delighted to be here and I look forward to your substantive questions. Thank you very, very much.

Re:If anyone claims to care about this at all... (4, Insightful)

fangorious (1024903) | more than 5 years ago | (#26021345)

The problem is that according to testimony by engineers at the co-operating telecom facilities, the surveillance technology intercepts all traffic, not just requested traffic. So the NSA is intercepting domestic communications between citizens of no interest, without a warrant. That is in direct violation of the law. Develop a system that intercepts only the communications of interest, obtain a warrant for those streams that need it, and all will be will. Continue the dragnet approach and people will continue, rightfully, to protest the crime.

Re:If anyone claims to care about this at all... (1)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 5 years ago | (#26025059)

What engineers?

Engineers like Mark Klein, who, by their statements, also clearly have a political agenda?

Engineers like Mark Klein, who have no direct knowledge of the implementation of the surveillance equipment?

Perhaps you could tell me how a system would work to "intercept" internet traffic which is lawful to intercept without being able to examine the "wrapper" of each packet.

You can't. And no, the answer isn't, "Well, that's NSA's problem, and right now they're violating the law." This isn't the answer for two reasons:

1. No, they're not violating the law, actually. An infrastructure being in place to allow for interception of foreign traffic passing through US equipment does not imply all traffic is being "intercepted" in a legal context. See 2.

2. Monitoring the metadata or "envelope" (source and destination information) of a communication is required to determine whether the traffic can be monitored with a warrant.

Such collection has been found to be legal without a warrant or court oversight by the US Supreme Court:

The telephone company, at police request, installed at its central offices a pen register to record the numbers dialed from the telephone at petitioner's home. Prior to his robbery trial, petitioner moved to suppress "all fruits derived from" the pen register. The Maryland trial court denied this motion, holding that the warrantless installation of the pen register did not violate the Fourth Amendment. Petitioner was convicted, and the Maryland Court of Appeals affirmed.

Source: Smith v. Maryland, 442 U.S. 735 (1979) [findlaw.com]

Courts have subsequently found that pen register statutes apply similarly to computer network addresses known as IP addresses, lists of web sites visited, and the "envelope" of an email message -- its To: and From: addresses and related information. The NSA itself has long understood that while the capture of the "metadata" of communications is fair game, the capture of the contents of the conversations of US Persons is not, without a warrant. Whether or not all traffic passes through a particular piece of equipment is immaterial.

The current law, as represented after the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (HR 3773) [govtrack.us] , sponsored by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) and cosponsored by 7 other Democratic colleagues:

1. Clarifies that no court warrant is required to intercept communications of non-US Persons [wikipedia.org] when both ends of the communications are outside the United States. (Even when the interception occurs within the US.)

2. Requires an individualized court warrant from the FISA Court when targeting US Persons. (Same as previous law.)

The interception mechanisms required to enable lawful foreign intelligence collection from the internet within the US necessitates the technical capability to monitor and potentially collect all traffic. It is not a crime, and the current, amended law that speaks to exactly this issue does not consider it a crime. The intelligence oversight committees in both houses of Congress know exactly how this has been implemented, and Congress overwhelmingly chose to protect telecom operators from liability -- both for their prior assistance and going forward -- as a result of their lawful assistance.

Your assertion has two problems:

"Develop a system that intercepts only the communications of interest"

This is a convenient Catch-22, usually for individuals grinding a political axe. This is often put forward as an argument because the implication is that it's impossible to build a system that can only intercept foreign traffic without first determining whether it's foreign traffic or not -- which itself requires examining at least the traffic's metadata, as described above.

"obtain a warrant for those streams that need it"

A warrant is not required to intercept foreign traffic. A warrant is also not required to determine which traffic meets this requirement. A warrant is, and always has been, required for the targeted interception of the content of traffic of US Persons. (A US Person may still be a party to a communication where one or more endpoints of the communication do not require a warrant, as long as identifying and other information relating to the US Person is protected as required by law.)

The trouble, of course, is what it means to "intercept". If "intercept" simply means "passes through any equipment even if the meaningful, contextual content of excluded traffic is never read, analyzed, searched, or stored in any way", then yes, all traffic under such provisions is being "intercepted". Except that's not what intercepted means in a legal context. By that same logic, since any telephone company has the technical capability to tap any phone number for a law enforcement entity, they are, in effect, "tapping" all of them. Sure, you can argue that this is government equipment, and that you don't know what it's doing.

No, you can't see what it's doing, nor can any court (save, perhaps, FISC); that would disable the entire notion of secret foreign intelligence collection (which does not require, and never has required, court oversight when US Persons are not involved). That's where Congressional intelligence oversight comes in, and that's the whole purpose of it being there. Intelligence is a difficult balance in a free and open society. But, believe it or not, the primary mission and purpose of the United States' foreign intelligence apparatus is just that -- foreign intelligence, albeit updated to have some semblance of relevance in the world of the Internet.

Re:If anyone claims to care about this at all... (2, Interesting)

fangorious (1024903) | more than 5 years ago | (#26026085)

That's an impressive response. Almost half your response is a straw man though, as I never made any statements about foreign surveillance. I never objected to foreign surveillance, just domestic surveillance which doesn't meet warrant requirements. So basically our only disagreement is where that requirement begins.

I don't care whether Mr. Klein knows the workings of the NSA equipment or not. And neither should you. As testified, all communication is being routed through the equipment. Refute that. Don't tell me about political agenda and then point out the party affiliation of co-sponsors of the bill you support.

You say it's impossible to determine which communication is foreign and which is domestic without analyzing the envelope. Did it ever occur to you that the companies delivering the data to the NSA can already do this? How else would they know to bill a phone call at an international rate? Those companies can route foreign communications however the NSA legally directs them to. Then they can scan the domestic communications for points of interest given by the NSA and deliver those that match. How about that? I solved your Catch-22 without any axe grinding.

The Constitution requires specificity, the intelligence agencies can't implement a dragnet without violating that requirement. Private companies can as long as their customers are aware, as their customers choose if they want to be customers.

Re:Terrorism? (0, Offtopic)

yttrstein (891553) | more than 5 years ago | (#26020559)

A friend of mine worked in the "egg crate", which I suppose is what they called the "analog crackers" in the 80s. I'm not going to go into all the paranoid crap that everyone keeps spewing all about how the NSA is out to smother the rights of every man, woman and child in the US.

Because that's actually the job of the executive branch, it seems.

But I will say this, in reference to Haeleth's passage above..

Sure, the NSA isnt out to scan the brainwaves of everyone reading this. But your wish to bury any and all concern under an ocean of what you seem to think is "rationality" is also wrong-- and actually very harmful. We know that government agencies who arent supposed to spy on domestic citizens already are, and have been for at least decades. That's a fact. We don't know that the NSA has been doing it though; that's conjecture. But it's not insane or psychotic conjecture, or even remotely paranoid. It's rational conjecture based on the avalanche of facts about our government that have been coming to light since the McCarthy era, including the last 8 years.

Re:Terrorism? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26021009)

"Why are so many Americans so certain that everything their government does is an attempt to oppress them?"

This is America, it was pretty much founded on the basic principle that the govt is out oppress us.

Re:Terrorism? (5, Insightful)

Mikkeles (698461) | more than 5 years ago | (#26021351)

'Why are so many Americans so certain that everything their government does is an attempt to oppress them? '

Six thousand years of historical evidence about governments.

Re:Terrorism? (1)

symbolic (11752) | more than 5 years ago | (#26023339)

Exactly. If I had mod points, I'd mod you up.

Re:Terrorism? (2, Insightful)

kd5zex (1030436) | more than 5 years ago | (#26021369)

Get over yourselves and drop the conspiracy crap, please.

Yeah, you are right, there are no examples of governments oppressing its citizens in history. What was I thinking!? Thanks for waking me up.

Or, you know, go and collect loads of guns

Jealous?

Re:Terrorism? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26023771)

Your argument wouldn't be so worthless if they hadn't passed laws allowing them to spy on non-foreign citizens without a warrant. Also, this has nothing to do with spying on the average Joe's, as another poster wrote, it's about catching those little "nuisances" to the established order. You should brush up on your political history for evidence of this. Try the FBI investigations and pressuring of MLK, or better yet, try COINTELPRO.

Re:Terrorism? (1)

Agripa (139780) | more than 5 years ago | (#26020871)

Anyone wanna bet that Obama won't do a damn thing about these obvious attempts to spy on American citizens?

Why would he? I am sure it is a great idea now that he will be President and the Democrats have a majority in congress:

http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2008/12/04/feinstein/ [salon.com]

Time to take a serious look (0, Redundant)

madcat2c (1292296) | more than 5 years ago | (#26018285)

At Linux.

Re:Time to take a serious look (2, Interesting)

stonedcat (80201) | more than 5 years ago | (#26018435)

I'm quite the fan of Linux myself and have been using it for years, but I fail to see how it's going to stop the NSA from spying on internet traffic...

Re:Time to take a serious look (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 5 years ago | (#26018753)

I'm sure there's a distro for that.

Re:Time to take a serious look (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26019169)

There will be.
http://paranoidlinux.org/

neighbors (0)

twitter (104583) | more than 5 years ago | (#26018291)

Because you should never underestimate the bandwith of a station wagon full of hard drives. - paraphrase of a not so old M$ report about moving data. Besides backdoors to Winblows, why is it that the NSA wants to partner with M$ clowns again?

Warning: Known sockpuppet/troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26018429)

User operates multiple accounts [slashdot.org]

Re:Warning: Known sockpuppet/troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26020647)

Years ago, I ran an online chat site with a no sock-puppet policy. So, one day I ran a IP check (and other methods) to see how many people had multiple accounts. Nearly 60%. So, I published the list.

Half of the total users complained, literally, 300+ emails in an afternoon. Fun times. The amount of arguments and infighting on the site went down rapidly, eventually making the place boring and they closed up about year later.

So, sometimes you need the occasional sock puppet, if only to have something to keep you coming back.

SaaS? (4, Insightful)

JeffSh (71237) | more than 5 years ago | (#26018293)

If any business needs yet another reason to stay away from SaaS, this is the one to pay attention to.

Businesses and their IP are becoming increasingly important. Any time your business IP crosses onto someone elses network, it's susceptible to snooping either by corporate espionage or now government eyes.

If your company has a market advantage caused by proprietary information, SaaS is not for you. Why else would the NSA be shacking up next to a Microsoft data center?

Re:SaaS? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26018329)

And what exactly would the NSA do with your company's proprietary information that would hurt your market advantage?

Re:SaaS? (2, Insightful)

drspliff (652992) | more than 5 years ago | (#26018559)

I wouldn't be too concerned with your business-confidential data leaking into the private sector via some unscrupulous NSA employee (who have a higher bar to employment I would hope, than say a TSA employee).

I'm much more concerned about the NSA collecting data about foreign nationals who happen to be using whichever SaaS app they happen to be snooping, and that's ontop of all the feature creep that could end up being used to abuse US citizens.

Re:SaaS? (5, Interesting)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 5 years ago | (#26018717)

I wouldn't be too concerned with your business-confidential data leaking into the private sector via some unscrupulous NSA employee (who have a higher bar to employment I would hope, than say a TSA employee).

"Rogue" agents are not the problem. Sanctioned industrial espionage is the problem.

In theory they only do it against foreign corporations, but as multinationals become the norm, that line is becoming increasingly less meaningful. The ultimate result of such policies is likely to be spying against the competitors of the currently favored multinationals.

Here's one article about how Echelon was used for industrial espionage [indianexpress.com] - there are plenty more about the NSA and other agencies that are not Echelon-specific either.

Re:SaaS? (2, Insightful)

FriendlyLurker (50431) | more than 5 years ago | (#26019093)

"Rogue" agents are not the problem. Sanctioned industrial espionage is the problem

You got that right. Here is another "small" example - to the tune of 6 billion, with a 1.3 billion side show - all old news:

July 11, 2001: European Parliament Report: Echelon Data Provided to US Corporations
Glyn Ford.Glyn Ford. [Source: British Labour Party]The European Parliament releases its final report on its findings about the secretive US surveillance program known as Echelon. The report, two years in the making, exhaustively details many of Echelon's surveillance capabilities, and lists many of Echelon's surveillance stations around the world. One of the more interesting sections of the report concerns its apparent use on behalf of US corporations. According to the report, Echelonâ"operated by the NSA as a highly classified surveillance program ostensibly for tracking terrorist threats and activities by nations hostile to the West is also being used for corporate and industrial espionage, with information from the program being turned over to US corporations for their financial advantage. The report gives several instances of Echelon's use by corporations. One is the use of Echelon to "lift... all the faxes and phone calls" between the European aircraft manufacturer Airbus and Saudi Arabian Airlines; that information was used by two American companies, Boeing and McDonnell Douglas, to outflank Airbus and win a $6 billion contract. The report also alleges that the French company Thomson-CSF lost a $1.3 billion satellite deal to Raytheon the same way. Glyn Ford, the MP who commissioned the report, says he doesn't have a problem with Echelon itself, but in the way it is being used. "Now, you know, if we're catching the bad guys, we're completely in favor of that... What we're concerned about is that some of the good guys in my constituency don't have jobs because US corporations got an inside track onâ"on some global deal."
http://www.historycommons.org/entity.jsp?entity=airbus_1 [historycommons.org]

British Labor party spokesman above says that they are completely in favor of spying on European citizens - as long as they can benefit from industrial espionage as well. I guess the "bad guys" now means anyone, anywhere either corporation, country or individuals - who do not contribute directly or indirectly to their political campaign fund, roll their national resources over to foreign exploitation. Talk about fringe benefits from (mis)using public office.

Re:SaaS? (1)

jotok (728554) | more than 5 years ago | (#26018943)

This may or may not be relevant but government personnel have a really cavalier attitude towards corporate IP. It's an extension of how they look down upon the vendors and contractors who actually make most government operations "work." I recently had a customer get pretty ugly when I refused to give him software he hadn't licensed (just because I can get license-free versions of anything my company produces)...they expect "hookups" all the time, and you just know they will throw that shit up on the torrents as soon as they get home.

This is mainly the lower-echelon govvies as opposed to the higher-ups (who are either smart enough to understand how complicated IP can get, or else aren't savvy enough to try to exploit it).

Re:SaaS? (4, Insightful)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 5 years ago | (#26019255)

Any time your business IP crosses onto someone elses network, it's susceptible to snooping either by corporate espionage or now government eyes.

I'm not sure your business critical data is the real risk. Like a lot of things, it's the unintended consequences that may have bigger implications. If other countries are afraid of communications flowing through US relays being monitored, whether that fear is legitimate or not, they may be tempted to utilize more advanced encryptions schemes or develop relays that don't route through the US.

Sort of like the laptop confiscations by TSA. Some companies stopped coming here to do business. That probably wasn't the only reason, but for a few it was the last straw. Those that did come were sudden converts to advanced encryption and off-site file storage.

I think there's a certain level of trust that used to be there that the US could be trusted with your data because no one could access it without a warrant. Probably not the protection they imagined but still a reasonable assurance. Take that away and nothing really separates us from the most heavy-handed and tyrannical governments on the planet.

Ultimately, I think that's the greatest blow to the US from the 6 years of right wing rule. The realization that another Bush could rise up and trample on our ideals and flout the law with little real consequence and even get enthusiastic support from a substantial minority of the population. Suddenly nothing is beneath us. Spying on friend and foe alike, unilateral military action, seizure of bank funds and property without due process, indefinite imprisonment without access to a lawyer, torture, racial profiling...nothing is out of bounds if we feel the justification is there. We can no longer be trusted to respect the rule of law. A perception we have, unfortunately, worked hard to deserve.

Odd? (1)

Savione (1080623) | more than 5 years ago | (#26018295)

America's top spy agency has taken over the former Sony microchip plant and is transforming it into a new data-mining headquarters - oddly positioned directly across the street from a 24-hour Walmart - where billions of electronic communications will be sifted in the agency's mission to identify terrorist threats.

Keep your friends close, and your Walmarts closer.

NSA + Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26018317)

i see this is the new "MSA" they've been talking about

Re:NSA + Microsoft (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26018357)

i see this is the new "MSA" they've been talking about

Not the CIC [wikipedia.org] ?

This is why (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26018319)

The US will never do anything to dislodge Microsoft from the throne. The intelligence value of having Microsoft products in a monopolistic position all over the world is far too important. You don't squander that just to please some customer rights hippies at home.

Microsoft is the mother lode? (2, Insightful)

cleatsupkeep (1132585) | more than 5 years ago | (#26018325)

I would have thought being near a Google data center would be more valuable, with the huge amount of traffic, and the indexing that comes through Google.

Maybe Google has better practices in terms of security of their data centers?

Re:Microsoft is the mother lode? (5, Funny)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 5 years ago | (#26018483)

Maybe Google has better practices in terms of security of their data centers?

Well, for starters, they're not running Windows...

Re:Microsoft is the mother lode? (1)

Stephen Samuel (106962) | more than 5 years ago | (#26018755)

Perhaps Google raised questions about the constitutionality of the no-warrant data searches while MS simply rolled over and asked for some really hefty 'administrative fees'.

Re:Microsoft is the mother lode? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26018955)

I would have thought being near a Google data center would be more valuable, with the huge amount of traffic, and the indexing that comes through Google.

Maybe Google has better practices in terms of security of their data centers?

Well, Google has numerous data centers all over the world. Many of those locations are secrets and even more importantly most of those are outside USA. Knowing how vital it is for Google's business to keep it's inner workings secret any data exchanged between these data centers must be VERY strongly encrypted.

The only way NSA could snoop on any significant part of Google's activity is to actually have a permission from Google to do so. If that is the case, we would be never told and they wouldn't really even need to be next to googles' data centers... Just put a server of their next to googles' servers in all data centers.

Re:Microsoft is the mother lode? (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#26019881)

Or simply tap all the lines into the building (or perhaps on the national grid). Just because YOU and the general populice does not know, does not mean that NSA does not.

Re:Microsoft is the mother lode? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26021365)

Or simply tap all the lines into the building (or perhaps on the national grid). Just because YOU and the general populice does not know, does not mean that NSA does not.

You completely missed the part about very strong encryption? Google earns a lot of money. This comes pretty much completely from AdWords. This would all be risked if Google's competitors would learn more about Google's inner workings (which includes what data is exchanged between data centers and how). Google has massive financial interest to make sure nobody can snoop on that data.

And "NSA bribes/blackmails Google's employees" paranoid stuff won't work very well either. I know a few people who have worked for Google and can assure you that nobody there is told anything more nor has access to anything more than what is absolutely required for their job (sometimes not even that). Or will you go with the "Google has so few experts who know anything about internet that they might not know about encryption"?

So... As I just said, the only way that NSA is snooping on google's traffic is if they have the permission from Google to do so. In such a case we would never be openly told. :)

More importantly (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26019857)

Google has REQUIRED the feds to obey the laws. MS actively works with all govs. for example, the case of the chinese author who was jailed because Yahoo was used; Supposedly, China gov actually had used BOTH Yahoo and MS, but choose to put info about yahoo because MS was closer to the gov. MS has ZERO issues about ignoring the constitution or any rights as long as they get theirs.

In other news (5, Funny)

mysidia (191772) | more than 5 years ago | (#26018353)

MSIE getting a button on the toolbar that says "Report as Terrorist site"

And MSN Hotmail getting a new link next to contacts that says "report contact as terrorist.

Also, the list of possible threat sources was just expanded to include slashdot.

Rumor has it that certain editors of slashdot and other blogs may be conducting attacks against various industry players by linking to them ( something the terrorists call "Slashdotting" the victim site)

Re:In other news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26024231)

What sets off their detections? Maybe they'll abandon this bullshit if enough people(or bots) replicate 'terrorist' behavior, flooding over their databases.

odd place for NSA (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26018427)

Sony wasn't there that long. They got it from AMD. Anway, the NSA has been "moving in" for more than a year. It was almost a fort before, and it certainly is now. They even taken over the public road that ran to its north. I'm on the hill, about a mile northwest of there, and can see and hear it at night. It's also close to the Southwest Research Institute (they did the Columbia wing test that demonstrated the hole could be caused by the foam insulation), which is on the other side of Loop 410. I'm sort of surprised they moved in there, though. Lots of better places farther out. San Antonio used to have five military bases: Fort Sam Houston, Lackland AFB, Kelly AFB, and the smaller Brooks field, and Randolf AFB (nearby). Kelly and Brooks are gone. AT&T used to be headquartered here but most of it moved to Dallas earlier this year (think of room 614a). Mm, maybe that's why AT&T left - NSA was moving in.

Movie and series rights (1)

Whiteox (919863) | more than 5 years ago | (#26018471)

Movie rights.
There's got to be a series in that too.
There's too much officialdom going on and it warrants an expose of some sort.

Re:odd place for NSA (1)

failedlogic (627314) | more than 5 years ago | (#26022841)

I was Googling to see if other company HQs of interest were in the area and came across the AT&T one. It seems that the major pipe AT&T was probably using before wouldn't be too hard to be had. Seemed the timing a bit too convenient.

Re:odd place for NSA (1)

j_kenpo (571930) | more than 5 years ago | (#26025465)

I'm gonna piggy back on your post since your a fellow resident from SA. :)

I can't believe the paranoia based on a college kids report in the local flea rag? Come on. The SA Current is is local college rag, they advertise current events, gay clubs, have the worst food critics, and have the most left learning articles this side of San Francisco. The first paragraph in the article is total BS, there are either no NSA employees or a skeleton crew at that facility. Its still under construction, and I highly doubt the illegals working on the building give a crap about some college kid taking pictures. They might finally have employees starting to trickle in, but the place still looks under construction every time I pass it, and I live like 4 miles from it. Maybe thats part of the subterfuge, which I highly doubt. All I ever see out there is a single cop car, and that guy is usually asleep, tons of barbed wire fence, and tons of construction workers. I could go over there right now, take pictures to my hearts content, and not be bothered, or detained. I seriously doubt this guy was "detained" since the NSA is not a law enforcement agency, and one of the skeleton crew that would be there has about as much legal right to detain you as the desk clerk at the DMV. So unless this guy crossed that fence to take pictures, or is making a joke, I call shenanigans. The fear mongering about big brother is bullshit in this case.

The reason the NSA is opening a data center here in SA is no secret. Its dirt cheap land, period. They got the the cheap land on clearance from AMD who bought it and never did anything with it. The same reason Citi opened a call center here several years ago (still there, although they sold the land and lease from them due to their financial issues), same reason Toyota opened their plant here, same reason that Microsoft is planning a call center here. Same goes for USAA, Valero, and Tesoro. Its the same reason I can buy my house here for less than 200k where the same house is close to a million in other parts of the country. Its cheap real estate. Period. AT&T was stupid to leave for that very reason. They got some sort of kick-back from the city of Dallas and used the airport (which is under an expansion project currently) as an excuse. They may "save" in the short run, but their executives will be long gone and counting their money by the time the savings run out.

The problem with opening high tech facilities here is finding qualified labor. So for all the guys wearing a tin foil hat about this, keep in mind, this is in a city where the high school drop out rate is outrageously high, the teen pregnancy rate is the highest in the country, education is piss poor with high schools putting more focus on and the only state college, UTSA, has in the past lost its accreditation in core subjects like Math and English for failing to meet standards. I've worked with several of the graduates of their security program before, and they had no clue what a packet capture was, and had never heard of TCPDump or Wireshark/Ethereal before. It might be like any other curriculum in any school, and there are the bright kids, and the dull ones, but the ones I've encountered have definitely been on the lower end of that spectrum. The other colleges in the area are either community colleges (which, mind you, the kids out of one of the local community college security programs knew a hell of a lot more than the state schools), or are outrageously expensive private schools. So unless they are willing to lower their hiring criteria to associates degrees, or get their candidates from elsewhere (either from one of the remaining air force bases here or from other cities or states), qualified candidates might be hard to come by.

Yipes! (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#26018461)

MS and NSA partnering over domestic spying WOPR? [wikipedia.org]

If that doesn't make the hair on the back of your head stand up like a soldier on Viagra, nothing will.

Plus, most such efforts so far are nothing but money pits [wired.com] .

       

MS is just a small data center, barely manned (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26018715)

Very, very small data centre in the grand scheme of "Data centres". I heard the staffing is under 100, out in the Westover Hills area. Next to... Six Flags, Hyatt Regency HCR (used to be the place to smooch with the rock stars that came to the city), and lots of roads (still) to nowhere. I'd say Bamford is too hung up on catherdrals to see it for what it is, not much really.

Hiring? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26018571)

So... are they hiring?

Always (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#26019903)

How are your math skills? One of the top in nation? NSA wants you. If you want a job doing sysadmin, then you can work for one of the big gov. contractors and they will put you in various locations. Of course, you will need top secret clearance.

The good news is that this datacenter is just ONE of their many. I am surprised that this news got out.

The Laws of Conservation (2, Funny)

bobdotorg (598873) | more than 5 years ago | (#26018707)

The Center should open about the time Bush moves back to Texas, so the Law of Conservation of Intelligence will hold.

Re:The Laws of Conservation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26018895)

The Center should open about the time Bush moves back to Texas, so the Law of Conservation of Intelligence will hold.

Bush will be living in Dallas though, and while San Antonio and Dallas aren't very far apart in Texan terms, it's still 275 miles away.

Which is equivalent to saying someone in Wash DC is in the same place as someone in Connecticut .. five states away.

Terrorism vs. organized crime (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26018725)

How can the governments claim 1) to protect us against terrorism, 2) to be able to dismantle Al-Qaeda, given that:
I) organized crime, such as biker gangs, mafia, etc. roam free without intervention - they commit crimes all the time
II) the governments are unable to dismantle the organized crime elements.

Therefore I ask:

Given that organized crime elements are supposedly a lesser threat and easier target than Al Qaeda and terrorists, should not organized crime dealt away with first?

If we are not going after organized crime, because it is more difficult to root out, how do we expect to root out Al Qaeda and terrorism?

Discuss, please.

Re:Terrorism vs. organized crime (2, Insightful)

Ravon Rodriguez (1074038) | more than 5 years ago | (#26019013)

People are used to organized crime, but terrorism is a relatively new concept in America; people are more afraid of Al Qaeda than they are of the Hell's Angels, so fighting terrorism takes priority. I'm not saying it's the right way to look at things, but that's the way most Americans do.

Re:Terrorism vs. organized crime (2, Insightful)

Haeleth (414428) | more than 5 years ago | (#26019297)

This is called "democracy":

  • The American people, as a whole, are happy to spend more money on fighting al-Qaeda.
  • The American people, as a whole, are not happy spending more money on fighting organised crime.
  • The American government, as a representative democracy, spends money roughly where the people want it spent, i.e. on terrorism.

If you think the government is doing the wrong thing, then it is your duty as a citizen to stand up in public and explain why. If you make a persuasive argument, then other people will support your cause, and eventually you will have sufficient backing that the government will take note of your movement and adjust its actions to suit the new desires of the American people. Look at the history of the civil rights movement for examples of this working in practice -- and note that Martin Luther King did not become a household name by posting anonymously on Slashdot.

The statement that the NSA could "access" (4, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26018767)

Microsoft's data under today's laws "without a warrant" is simply false... unless Microsoft voluntarily cooperates. And the article did make it sound like they were voluntarily cooperating...

which all adds up to yet another reason to boycott Microsoft and use Linux or OS X, and Open Source business software.

Re:The statement that the NSA could "access" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26019205)

The NSA don't need a warrant; they could make do with a National Security Letter. Which, by definition, you wouldn't know about.

It doesn't matter what OS your hosted servers are running. If a server isn't under your physical control you don't who's doing what to it.

Re:The statement that the NSA could "access" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26019269)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Security_Letter

That's horrendous. Someone clean up this fucked up legislature.

Re:The statement that the NSA could "access" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26019801)

Why would I trust OSX more than Windows? I don't, but I do use it because I do not have much of and edge over my competitors. Any product that is not open, especially coming from a US corporation, should not be trusted by EU corporations. That is partly the reason why the European Union is encouraging the use of open source software in government and, ultimately, in EU businesses.

Re:The statement that the NSA could "access" (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26023567)

I didn't say to trust OS X, and I did not say to not trust Windows... I did say to NOT trust Microsoft. There is a difference.

mod Down (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26019503)

corporate recent Sys Admin [amazingkreskin.com] world. GNAA members (I always bring 8y lead to 'cleaner good manners right now. I tried, our cause. Gay

Data Mining (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26019751)

To mine data one presumably needs to capture data beforehand. Does this mean ALL traffic on the Internet will ultimately be routed through a node in San Antonio, Texas? Wouldn't this action by a private individual be a criminal offense?

Personal decisions (0, Troll)

prndll (1425091) | more than 5 years ago | (#26019889)

I have been making a slow but steady move away from Windows to Linux for a host of reasons. I have also made a decision to NOT buy anything of Sony. It's all in the things we all buy and use everyday. I find it interesting that people will complain about things like this and then turn around and support it by purchasing and using all those things that help to create and expand it all. I know there is no way to stop it or to prevent it. But, there is no reason to willing hand over more power to it. This is part (not all, but part) of the reason I do not use myspace or facebook. I will not buy an Ipod or Iphone. I do not use hotmail and I think I'm starting to end my use of yahoo. I'd like to get away from Google, but it's too useful to me. What it all comes down to is in the way it's all done. The internet is a powerfull tool with many facets. Being a popular thing to do online is just not enough to justify doing when the reality of what it actually is sets in.

Type II error (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26019925)

Of COURSE data mining is ineffective.

Consider the following analogy. A company creates a test that is 99.9% accurate to detect a rare genetic disease. 1 person in 10,000 has the disease.

Let's say your test comes back positive. You should be worried, right? I mean, 99.9% accuracy, and you came back positive.

Actually, no. Let's say you test 1,000,000 people. Of those, 100 will actually have the disease, and 999,900 will not. With 99.9% accuracy, you'll see:
* Of the 999,900 people who do NOT have the disease, about 1000 people will incorrectly test positive.
* Essentially all of the 100 people with the disease will also test positive.

1,100 people tested positive. Only 100 of those have the disease. This means that, even of the people who test positive, 91% do NOT have the disease. Statisticians call this kind of problem is called "Type II Error", which is a major problem for detecting rare conditions in a large population, even with a very accurate test.

Why does this relate to NSA data mining? Even if you're paranoid, the number of terrorists operating in the US is very small. Even if we concede that NSA data mining/profiling is very accurate (something I personally don't), it will STILL be the case that the vast number of identified individuals will be "false positives."

Underground railroad communications. (4, Interesting)

3seas (184403) | more than 5 years ago | (#26020251)

During the civil war the slaves developed a method of communication that went unnoticed except by those who knew about it.
They would sing song in the fields that woudl help to spread the word regarding teh undrground railroad.

Today common conversation communication can as well be used where there really is not anything to decipher.
Language and its abstraction work by attaching meaning and only work as well as the argeed upon meaning by those using teh abstraction.
It doesn't matter what meaning is attached so long as those using it understand what is being communicated

Everyone has heard of double speak, where what is communicated is meant to be perceived by the public one way but internally the very same words mean the opposite of what the public perceives. and this is just one example.

There is a saying, "locks as for honest people" meaning here if some dishonest group wanted to communicate without concern for NSA data mining, they could do so easily.

However, considering the massive amounts of data that is transfered from voice to digital on a daily or hourly basis and what the limits we have in computing power, its simple not possible to data mine for the terrorist threats from terrorists who want to avoid exposure and use such common conversation meaning dishonesty.

But it is very possible, very probable, and very reliable that such data mining be used to determine the attitudes of mass population mindsets and mindsets of population sections as well as spying on targeted US citizens that might influence such population in a direction counter to the "why determine the populations mindset and changes in it?" The unsuspecting American public is so easily influenced by the media so by knowing the overall attitudes of the American public and using the media to influence American attitudes, you have a feedback loop of CONTROL.

To properly address terrorist threats is to simply remove the reasons any terrorist group could play off of, that they won't be able to gain a following.

The World Trade Center was attacked on two different dates. The NSA had to know it was a target and why.
It was because of the effects of the trillion dollar bet [pbs.org] in south East Asia. Even Ted Turner publicly said 9/11 was an act of desperation and he'd know because his CNN News did a story on the effects as did also ABC. Follow the Money is the reality here.

This was avoidable but caused by greed. And on the other hand there is What The World Wants [unesco.org] that shows that we do have the manpower, knowledge and not only the natural resources but the finances to remove reasons for terrorists to gain a following. And even more important, the question of: Why is this not being done?

Given the death and torture imposed upon innocent people during the Spanish inquisition and the fact Galileo was exonerated so very very late (1992 where it only really was to serve the church not this innocent but long dead person) and the fact that Indonesia by CIA records is 88% Muslim, its clear that religion is an excuse both ways. An excuse to use by the bad, be the bad being believers or non-believers. But 9/11 was about money, wrongful World Stock Market manipulations backed by political controlled military, hence the Pentagon and probable White house targets. It was about money not religion, regardless of what you call such evil dishonesty as happened in the stock market.

But if you wanted to get a very accurate view of the general population attitudes for such a media feedback loop of CONTROL , then what the NSA is doing with data mining will clearly work.

You F4IL it! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26020357)

PROFITS WITHOUT [goat.cx]

When did "could" become "did"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26020679)

" NSA could gain access to Microsoft's stored data without even a warrant, but merely a fiber-optic cable"

But it would be illegal, and they haven't. It's awful narrow-minded to consider that they're building an entire data-center for the sole purpose of getting Microsoft's Data under the table. The amount of data MS has out there is a drop in the bucket compared to what they sift through on a normal basis. And I highly doubt they'd abandon the site if MS hadn't decided to take up root there as well.

It's a new data center, for more data mining, so they can keep doing what they've always been doing. Whether you think that's spying on innocent Americans, or providing foreign intelligence is completely irrelevant.

Paranoia will destroy-ya (1)

TimeOut42 (314783) | more than 5 years ago | (#26022583)

Construction on the new NSA facility (old Sony bldg) started long before MS had finalized work to build the data center in San Antonio. The two are not related in anything other than the fact that they are both in San Antonio; it's not like they can walk over to MS Datacenter with a thumb drive and ask for all their data. It's _just_ a datacenter; coordination between MS and NSA would likely happen in Washington or Redmond.

There are other datacenters in the Westover Hills part of San Antonio; Lowes (or Home Depot, I can't remember) and Stream Realty to name two.

So, for all the conspiracy theory fanatics out there. It comes down to the all-mighty dollar, not some nefarious deed to spy on your daily surfing and email habits....unless of course your are a child predator, drug dealer, human trafficker, organized crime-lord, etc.

TimeOut

This seems awfully familiar (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 5 years ago | (#26023469)

Read up on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_Awareness_Office [wikipedia.org]

Remember that little spat over the Total Information Awareness project back in 2001? You know, the one where after a lot of public pressure Congress tried to de-fund the program?

Well, gee... (1)

Anachragnome (1008495) | more than 5 years ago | (#26024557)

Thanks NSA, for giving us the irrefutable evidence that, indeed, Microsoft is DIRECTLY involved in spying on America.

Spend your dollars wisely, America. Getting(and keeping) Microsoft OFF your computer, entirely, now directly equates to keeping the NSA off it as well.

Re:Well, gee... (1)

TimeOut42 (314783) | more than 5 years ago | (#26025507)

So proximity to a satellite office of Microsoft is irrefutable evidence? Do you think that if the NSA wanted on your computer that doing it with any other OS would be that big of challenge?

Come one, you can do better than that. Ask yourself why the NSA would care about your computer? Doing something illegal? No, then they don't care about you. Yes, well, you may have to take your medicine.

TimeOut

Guess what? (1)

Master of Transhuman (597628) | more than 5 years ago | (#26025557)

Microsoft will even pay for the fiber optic cable if the NSA will share the intel with them, so they can rip their customers off even more than they do.

They already let the NSA try to break Vista when it was being developed - meaning that the NSA probably found ten ways to break into Vista machines, then shared seven of them with Microsoft and kept the other three to themselves.

If you use Vista, you're wide open to the NSA.

What difference does closing Guantanamo make? (1)

Master of Transhuman (597628) | more than 5 years ago | (#26025599)

What will Obama do with the prisoners? Answer: turn them over to military prisons in the US - where they'll get the exact same treatment they got in Guantanamo.

Or he'll turn them over to the US Bureau of Prisons - where they'll get the exact same treatment they got in Guantanamo - just like US prisoners do.

Where do you think all these brutal methods were developed - in US prisons. Most of the people involved in the Iraq Abu Ghraib abuses were US correctional officers. The Iraqi prison system was developed by correctional officials from states with the worst abuses in the state prison systems.

NSA didn't follow Microsoft, it was there first. (1)

miller60 (554835) | more than 5 years ago | (#26026597)

What the article doesn't say is that the NSA leased the former Sony site in 2005, with plans to locate as many as 6,000 employees at the site. It had scaled back those plans in 2006, but then decided to build a data center on the property in 2007 [datacenterknowledge.com] . Microsoft's project certainly confirmed San Antonio's qualities as a data center site, but it's not really a case of the NSA following Microsoft.
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