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NSA Claims It Would Violate Americans' Privacy To Say How Many of Us It Spied On

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the you-can-trust-us dept.

Privacy 221

colinneagle writes "Would you believe the Inspector General from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said it would violate the privacy of Americans for the IG office to tell us how many people in the United States had their privacy violated via the NSA warrantless wiretap powers which were granted under the FISA Amendment Act of 2008? The Act is up for a five-year extension, but Senator Ron Wyden said he'd block FAA renewal until Congress received an answer from the NSA about how many 'people in the United States have their communications reviewed by the government' under FAA powers."

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221 comments

Obvious solution (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40374015)

Violate their privacy, leak their documents.

Re:Obvious solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40374735)

Violate their privacy, leak their documents.

Then go to jail. Everyone knows that only the Gov is allowed to break the law.

Re:Obvious solution (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 2 years ago | (#40375151)

Everyone knows that only the Gov is allowed to break the law.

Apparently you haven't read the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, or Business Week recently.

Re:Obvious solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40375281)

And who do you think runs the government? We the people? Haha! Why would the government prosecute its own ruling class? Dummkopfs.

Re:Obvious solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40375339)

Paging Daniel Ellsberg....

no need, I know ... (5, Funny)

Pirulo (621010) | about 2 years ago | (#40374031)

it's around 310 million

Re:no need, I know ... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40374329)

But there are only 187.24 million.
(3.1 million "actual citizens", and 184.14 million counted as 3/5th of a person.)
(Well, if only they were at least treated like 3/5th of a person. It’s more like 3/552.42th.)

Re:no need, I know ... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40374447)

there are not 184 million niggers, and there are also not just 3.1 mililon white people. Where did you get those numbers from?

Re:no need, I know ... (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40374671)

The 3.1 million would be the upper 1% (of 310 million) of the population that get treated as citizens with rights, etc. I didn't do the math, but I'm guessing the other number is (310 million - 3.1 million) * 3/5th because the other 99% of the population is treated as slaves.

Re:no need, I know ... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40374697)

The 3.1 million are the one percenters who have the real political sway. The rest of us are basically 'niggers' in their eyes.

Re:no need, I know ... (0)

Tmann72 (2473512) | about 2 years ago | (#40374577)

United states population is 311,591,917 as of July 2011 according to the United States Census Bureau. Big fail there buddy. A simple "population of the united states" google search would give the correct answer in 2 seconds. Thank you, please try again.

Re:no need, I know ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40374637)

Woosh!

Re:no need, I know ... (4, Interesting)

dan828 (753380) | about 2 years ago | (#40375209)

You do realize that the the 3/5s clause was to reign in the political power of the slave holders, don't you? Not a judgement on the worth of slaves as human beings? The slave states were attempting to have slaves classified as people, only under the census, so that they would benefit politically by having greater representation, while the free states argued that they shouldn't be counted at all because they weren't citizens and wouldn't be the ones to benefit from that representation in the government.

Conspiracy theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40374365)

... or, they don't know, because they filter out comms they know are with Americans. The do, however, know that this is nota 100% solution, and will have to actually do something to spy on Americans to figure out which comms are Americans. Yes, it makes sense, if you take off the tin foil and realize that the NSA is the *only* intelligence agency that, as a group, gives a damn about our rights.

Re:Conspiracy theory (1)

mjr167 (2477430) | about 2 years ago | (#40374503)

... or, they don't know, because they filter out comms they know are with Americans. The do, however, know that this is nota 100% solution, and will have to actually do something to spy on Americans to figure out which comms are Americans.

This. Oddly I think this is probably the real reason. It's probably like asking your ISP how many people have googled for cats doing funny things in the past 10 years. Some questions can't actually be reasonably answered and it's not malicious.

Re:Conspiracy theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40374679)

Not all of us use google and not all of us have cat fetish. I personally would never click on a link that leads to a video or picture of a cat.

Re:Conspiracy theory (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40375135)

I personally would never click on a link that leads to a video or picture of a cat.

I would never click on a link that leads to a picture of a mans gaping anus, but we all make mistakes sometimes.

Re:Conspiracy theory (5, Insightful)

HapSlappy_2222 (1089149) | about 2 years ago | (#40375205)

Then why not simply say "That's a question that cannot be reasonably answered due to [reasons A, B, C, D etc]." like my ISP would, instead of saying "We cannot tell you because we value your privacy."? Besides, it's a moot point; the fact remains they're collecting data on us, but they won't (or can't) tell us what it is. The end result is the same in either case; an agency is collecting data on us with no accountability.

As for TFA's quote: the contradiction seems super-obvious to us, but for a high level official to make that statement without seeing the same contradiction we do is pretty scary. What it means is this particular NSA leader has never even considered where his agency would fit in a privacy/no privacy Venn diagram. It has never occurred to him that their data collection could be a violation of privacy in the first place; they're orders of magnitude above such simple concerns.

To the NSA, data is like fruit on a vine they already own. They can pick this fruit whenever they choose, but that fruit is theirs whether they pick it or not.

I agree with you to a point; the NSA probably does not believe this is malicious, but if the NSA thinks the way they appear to, this is still wrong and completely out of touch with the privacy concerns we really have.

Nice doublethink and opposite day there. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40374093)

This is classical 1984 stuff here. Newspeak excellence.

War is peace,
freedom is slavery,
Violation of privacy is protection of privacy.

Re:Nice doublethink and opposite day there. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40374933)

I would really like to get more than 10 comments deep for once before someone making an Orwellian reference. It's like Godwin's law, but less funny.

Re:Nice doublethink and opposite day there. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40375167)

I would really like to get more than 10 comments deep for once before someone making an Orwellian reference. It's like Godwin's law, but less funny.

BB dayorder: Anoncow malquoted, unbellyfeel Amspeak. HomeSec rectify Anoncow fullwise anteposting.

Re:Nice doublethink and opposite day there. (3, Insightful)

Phrogman (80473) | about 2 years ago | (#40375201)

The problem with that is that while true Nazism is pretty rare in modern society, Orwellian actions by the governments of the world are in the least, quite common. Its not so funny when its actually happening I suppose.

Re:Nice doublethink and opposite day there. (5, Funny)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about 2 years ago | (#40375463)

I wonder how soon before NSA is renamed the Ministry of Transparency.

Come to think of it, it would be both doublethink-y, yet also very appropriate.

mistake? (1)

SeanBlader (1354199) | about 2 years ago | (#40374103)

This has got to be a mistake, I thought it sounded like a Senator was looking out for the American people?

Re:mistake? (4, Informative)

ZeroSumHappiness (1710320) | about 2 years ago | (#40374213)

Wyden often distinguishes himself as a human being first and a politician second.

Re:mistake? (2)

Transkaren (1925482) | about 2 years ago | (#40374673)

Indeed. He's made this constituent *very* happy. Really, we here in Eugene have it pretty good - Wyden and DeFazio both do a fabulous job of handling what we care about.

Re:mistake? (4, Funny)

scot4875 (542869) | about 2 years ago | (#40375501)

I notice that there's no mention of Wyden's party affiliation in the article. Must be that liberal media trying to hide the good deeds of the Republicans again.

--Jeremy

Wyden (5, Insightful)

roc97007 (608802) | about 2 years ago | (#40374113)

Ron Wyden is my senator, and although we agree on very little, today he is my hero.

Re:Wyden (2)

EnergyScholar (801915) | about 2 years ago | (#40374211)

He is also my Senator, and I agree with you.

Re:Wyden (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40374489)

He is also my Senator, and if you disagree with him it's most likly because you both are ASSHAT tea baggers.

Re:Wyden (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40374871)

That's not an unreasonable analysis. As a native Oregonian, my experience is that most people who don't agree with Ron most of the time are right-wing ideologues who don't care about results as long their guy is mean, loudmouthed, and dogmatic. Fortunately those people constitute a favorably small minority of the state, so we're blessed by Ron's very helpful presence in the Senate as a voice of reason on most matters, and as probably the most informed senator on matters of technology.

Re:Wyden (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40374657)

So, what's the TCO of a senator...?

Re:Wyden (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40374981)

For the people they serve in Oregon, $10 million in an election year and 1 million in an off year. http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/summary.php?cycle=2012&type=C&cid=N00007724&newMem=N or did you mean for the rest of us?

back of the envelope calc (1)

DynamoJoe (879038) | about 2 years ago | (#40374983)

(A (Campaign contributions) * B (number of years of service) ) + ( C (cost of jobs given to friends/relatives ) - D (their actual productivity) ) + E (speaking fees paid to the senator after the senator's retirement) = TCO Now subtract TCO from the gains from favorable legislation and you'll see that your average senator can be a real bargain. Collect them all!

Re:Wyden (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40375013)

I bet the NSA is intercepting his communications now.

Re:Wyden (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40375159)

Ron Wyden is my senator, too. We agree on very much, and today he's even more my hero than usual.

US Authorities Struggle With Reasoning Skills (1)

Teun (17872) | about 2 years ago | (#40374121)

To mention a logical extension to an other story of today...

Non the less pretty crass.

why does Ron Wyden even care... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40374135)

Private citizens aren't going to bankroll his campaign. Seems shady, what's he trying to do?

More likely... (1)

harvey the nerd (582806) | about 2 years ago | (#40374161)

more likely the number, perhaps too numerous to count if one includes automated total voice stream processing and email word checks, violates our sanity and patience. Carl Sagan - biillllions and bilions. Or is it trillions, NSA?

It will violate the CIA's privacy when we know (1)

Nadaka (224565) | about 2 years ago | (#40374205)

It will violate the CIA's privacy when we know that they spy on everyone.

Re:It will violate the CIA's privacy when we know (5, Funny)

magarity (164372) | about 2 years ago | (#40374451)

Get your agencies straight: the CIA spies on people outside the USA, the FBI spies on people inside the USA, the NSA spies on people anywhere on the planet, the NRO spies on everyone throughout the galaxy.

Re:It will violate the CIA's privacy when we know (4, Funny)

Nadaka (224565) | about 2 years ago | (#40375077)

That was the old way.

Now DHS spies on everyone and all agencies share the same intelligence channel.

Want to know how much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40374229)

All communication, of all the people, all the time - in real time.

Whoops, Sorry Senator Wyden. (1)

jaskelling (1927116) | about 2 years ago | (#40374261)

We obviously missed giving you your designated bribe...er, payoff...er, "contribution". We'll fix that right away. Or we'll disappear your family. Sincerely, Your friends at the NSA

It is funny, but.. (4, Insightful)

stanlyb (1839382) | about 2 years ago | (#40374265)

BUT, the most funny thing is that they are actually right. LOL, USA, a country of absurd and funny truths. And the reason they are right is that once they say how many Americans are spied upon, the uproar will be so big that everybody would try to know who is actually spied, which will cause disclosing their names, and thus violating their right to stay anonymous......LOL, better ignorant and fracked, than (you guess what).

How does aggregate data violate privacy? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40374275)

Seriously? If I say 200 or 2000 people had been investigated under warrantless wiretap powers, how exactly does that violate anybody's privacy?

Fine, if they can't give us an exact count, how about an order of magnitude? Or would that also violate privacy and/or security?

Come on. It's got to be between 1 person and 310 million or so. At least narrow it down a little.

Re:How does aggregate data violate privacy? (4, Insightful)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about 2 years ago | (#40374551)

Seriously? If I say 200 or 2000 people had been investigated under warrantless wiretap powers, how exactly does that violate anybody's privacy?

Fine, if they can't give us an exact count, how about an order of magnitude? Or would that also violate privacy and/or security?

Come on. It's got to be between 1 person and 310 million or so. At least narrow it down a little.

Questions are a burden to others; answers a prison for oneself.

Re:How does aggregate data violate privacy? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40374625)

Probably because the answer is "everybody" which would make many businesses, their cronies, and politicians very nervous. Possibly to the point of affecting the economy.

Re:How does aggregate data violate privacy? (3, Interesting)

Daetrin (576516) | about 2 years ago | (#40375101)

Come on. It's got to be between 1 person and 310 million or so. At least narrow it down a little.

Are you sure about that? I was just catching up with the Colbert Report on my DVR, and apparently in New York they've frisked more young black males under the "stop and frisk" policy than are actually living in the city. Maybe the NSA has multiple investigations/wire taps going on for each person, maybe they're investigating people who are just visiting the country (not sure if that's legal, but it's not like that would stop them anyways.)

NSA and Catholic Priests, a connection? (3, Funny)

Nyder (754090) | about 2 years ago | (#40374293)

Here at the NSA, we will NOT violate your privacy by telling you how many Americans privacy we have already violated.

Thank you, have a good day.

Here at the Catholic Church, we will NOT violate privacy by telling you which Priests violate children.

Thank you and god loves you, mainly little boys.

Re:NSA and Catholic Priests, a connection? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40374401)

Only relevant connection is the lack thereof between the left and right sides of your brain.

FAA? (1)

BobCollins (986220) | about 2 years ago | (#40374357)

Could the writer of posts like this NOT overload common acronyms? FAA, damn!

Re:FAA? (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | about 2 years ago | (#40374495)

s/FAA/FISA

Re:FAA? (2)

gstoddart (321705) | about 2 years ago | (#40375217)

s/FAA/FISA

Nope, it's FISA Amendments Act [aclu.org] .

The FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (FAA) rewrote our surveillance laws, which had generally required a warrant or court order for surveillance of people in the US. Under the FAA, the government can get a year-long programmatic court order for general bulk collection of Americans' international communications without specifying who will be tapped. It is up to the administration to decide that on its own after the fact, without any judicial review. The major requirement is that no particular person in the US should be targeted.

So, it's the warrant-less wiretapping stuff for domestic stuff. FISA [wikipedia.org] is for foreign intelligence.

everyone but.... (5, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | about 2 years ago | (#40374373)

I'm guessing that the answer is "everyone except the following....." and that list would immediately put those few dozen people under a spotlight, destroying their privacy.

Re:everyone but.... (2)

Phrogman (80473) | about 2 years ago | (#40375247)

But it would also give us a good list of the members of the 1% who own the world, at the same time.

That's because... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40374381)

That's because if the answer isn't zero then Americans' privacy has been violated.

How do we remove the Inspector General? (1)

Viewsonic (584922) | about 2 years ago | (#40374491)

Anyone know?

Re:How do we remove the Inspector General? (0)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#40374563)

Same way you oust any corrupt politician: With one of these [wikipedia.org]

Re:How do we remove the Inspector General? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40374857)

Same way you oust any corrupt politician: With one of these [wikipedia.org]

seems terribly out of date, perhaps we should invest in one of these new "drone" things I hear talk of on the inter-tubes.

This makes sense if they're recording *raw* data.. (5, Insightful)

harmless_mammal (543804) | about 2 years ago | (#40374509)

Okay, I remember reading (probably on Wired) that the NSA has an unusual definition of "intercept" when it came to domestic telephone calls...  An "intercept" for them was going back and analyzing their recordings, not the actual "making" of the recording.

If, for instance, I merely record raw packet data on the network and do not interpret it... then I've "captured the firehose", but I don't know what I've got until I analyze it.

If I have the budget to "capture the firehose" for the entire US telephone network, but I only need to analyze 10-20K "intercepts" per year, then I probably wouldn't have the equipment or staff to evaluate the details of all the data I have.

If that's the situation, then I'd probably respond similarly to Wyden's request.  In order to answer his questions I'd have to analyze ALL the data I have, which I don't have the resources or budget to do...  and even if I did, it'd expose the details of all comunications on the network... which would be an invasion of privacy.

Re:This makes sense if they're recording *raw* dat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40374749)

my guess is they record everything, run it through speech recognition to convert to text, scan that for certain key words, then queue the recordings around those words for someone to listen to.

Re:This makes sense if they're recording *raw* dat (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about 2 years ago | (#40375005)

i hope that there speech recognition engines is better than the one on Google voice that transcribes phone calls and messages. other wise you may be under the looking glass for its screw ups and it makes a lot of them

Re:This makes sense if they're recording *raw* dat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40375539)

are you sure it's not one and the same thing?

Re:This makes sense if they're recording *raw* dat (5, Insightful)

crazyjj (2598719) | about 2 years ago | (#40374821)

An "intercept" for them was going back and analyzing their recordings, not the actual "making" of the recording.

Combine that with a retroactive warrants and filtering software and it's basically a license to spy on everyone. I can make the recordings on everyone, filter them for keywords, and then read them--and, if I find something, I can get a retroactive warrant saying it was okay for me to listen to it.

Re:This makes sense if they're recording *raw* dat (4, Interesting)

harmless_mammal (543804) | about 2 years ago | (#40374825)

And, also, please realize that organizations like the NSA aren't free to discuss their techniques in a public forum... so they can't publicly tell Sen. Wyden why they don't have the capability to answer his questions.

Re:This makes sense if they're recording *raw* dat (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40374905)

You make me wish I had an account so I could mod you up. The privacy data the NSA has is a Schrödinger's cat. In order to know who's privacy they've "violated" they would actually have to analyze the data, thus actually violating it.

Re:This makes sense if they're recording *raw* dat (4, Insightful)

RogueLeaderX (845092) | about 2 years ago | (#40374951)

While this is a nice dodge there is one question they can still answer:

How many people have they "intercepted." No going back to analyze all captured data, just let us know how many people were "actively" voilated instead of just "passively" recorded.

Re:This makes sense if they're recording *raw* dat (5, Informative)

Memophage (88273) | about 2 years ago | (#40375313)

That sounds frighteningly accurate.
From a different Wired article: http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/03/nsa-whistleblower/ [wired.com]

NSA can intercept millions of domestic communications and store them in a data center like Bluffdale and still be able to say it has not “intercepted” any domestic communications. This is because of its definition of the word. “Intercept,” in NSA’s lexicon, only takes place when the communications are “processed” “into an intelligible form intended for human inspection,” not as they pass through NSA listening posts and transferred to data warehouses.

So, the short, accurate answer to Wyden's question would be "We're spying on everyone. Literally. It would take too much work to even calculate the number of people we're spying on. Go away."

Name Change (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40374525)

Just rename the spying as OPERATION INFINITE FREEDOM EAGLE PATRIOT SUNLIGHT. Who would object to such a noble venture?

Re:Name Change (1)

DroolTwist (1357725) | about 2 years ago | (#40375035)

Just rename the spying as OPERATION INFINITE FREEDOM EAGLE PATRIOT SUNLIGHT. Who would object to such a noble venture?

O.I.F.E.P.S. ? That would make a crappy t-shirt or jacket for them to wear. How about Sunlight Patriot Operation of Freedom? S.P.O.O.F.

Shut 'em down! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40374531)

Here's an idea: the NSA coughs up _exactly_ what Congress wants, or Congress shuts them down. Zero. Gone. All employees immediately lose their clearance and get to look for other work.

If I refused to tell my boss something, he'd fire me.

Re:Shut 'em down! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40374687)

Just exactly what gives you the impression that Congress is the NSA's boss? Congress likes to think they are the boss, but reality is hard for Congress to swallow sometimes.

Re:Shut 'em down! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40374935)

Just exactly what gives you the impression that Congress is the NSA's boss? Congress likes to think they are the boss, but reality is hard for Congress to swallow sometimes.

Congress sets the budget for the NSA.

Re:Shut 'em down! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40375111)

No Congress passes or does not pass a budget that is put before it. If the president refused to budge on the issue of NSA funding congress has two choices, pass the budget, or let the entire government shut down because the budget isn't passed.

Re:Shut 'em down! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40375569)

No Congress passes or does not pass a budget that is put before it. If the president refused to budge on the issue of NSA funding congress has two choices, pass the budget, or let the entire government shut down because the budget isn't passed.

Actually you are wrong.

All appropriations bills originate in the House of Representatives but must pass both the House and the Senate votes before the President must also sign them into law. Usually the President will put forth a budget which then CAN be taken up, amended and voted upon (or not if the leaders in each chambers choose not to bring the bill to the floor).

The President could veto the bills but this would have a negative impact of halting the entire appropriations bill which would withhold funds from other parts of the government which is pretty much unacceptable. Although the Congress could force through the bill with enough votes to override the Presidents veto.

One thing I am not certain of is if Congress sets the budget for the NSA or just DOD as a whole. If it is DOD as a whole then they would have to completely defund the DOD in order to get rid of the NSA. I think it is a little more granular though.

Re:Shut 'em down! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40374843)

You really are stupid, lol.

Re:Shut 'em down! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40375269)

Their boss? They're not even the same branch of government. Congress is concerned with laws and budgets, the NSA answers to the DoD, which answers to the President and his cabinet.

Is it because the answer is "MILLIONS"? (1)

dryriver (1010635) | about 2 years ago | (#40374629)

If they want to hide the number of people they have wiretapped/surveilled, that number, in all likelihood, is very large. Could be a few hundred thousand. Could be a few million. Could be a few tens of millions. It could also be "everybody living within the borders of the United States, every day", if they have the digital infrastructure to handle that kind of workload in realtime. ---------- Besides, precisely what would the number tell you? The number of people surveilled by human operators? Or the number of people who have had their phone conversations/emails/web browsing flagged, because they used a "suspicious keyword" or two while communicating with someone else? --------- In any case, the fact that they refuse to reveal the "number" of people who have been surveilled suggests that this number is large, or perhaps even very large. --------- As for privacy, how do a few simple statistics violate the privacy of anyone? Or are they afraid that the numbers in play are so LARGE, that virtually everyone in America will feel they have "lost their privacy". Maybe that is the correct translation of what they are trying to say: "If we reveal the number of people surveilled, the number is so large that EVERYONE who reads about it will start to feel surveilled. --------------

Re:Is it because the answer is "MILLIONS"? (1)

crazyjj (2598719) | about 2 years ago | (#40374733)

If the rumors of recent upgrades to NSA capability are true, the answer would be "everyone."

Wish companies had those kind of balls (4, Insightful)

crazyjj (2598719) | about 2 years ago | (#40374707)

Can you imagine Google having the balls to tell the FBI "Sorry, can't hand over anymore info. That would violate our customers' privacy."?

No, I can't either.

Re:Wish companies had those kind of balls (3, Interesting)

stox (131684) | about 2 years ago | (#40374769)

The Old AT&T, aka Ma Bell, did that on many occasions. The new AT&T, aka SBC, would sell it's mother for a nickel.

Re:Wish companies had those kind of balls (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40375583)

But that was one monopoly vs another.

Re:Wish companies had those kind of balls (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40374831)

google seems more intrinsically oriented towards their own interests than any kind of nationalism

the really interesting question is what kind of carrots and sticks did the US federal government use
to get such compliance?

Please Remove Me From Your ( Score: +5, PatRIOTic) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40374789)

Spied-On List.

Yours In Peace,
K. Trout, PatRIOT

Another misleading Slashdot headline (5, Interesting)

tomhath (637240) | about 2 years ago | (#40375093)

If you read the letter from the IG, all he says is that he can't answer the question in an *unclassified* letter. He then goes on to point the senators to classified reports that contain most of what they're looking for; basically that sometimes they collect information and learn afterwards that the person wasn't where they thought (inside the US, so the data shouldn't have been collected). Of course if you choose not to believe anything he says then there's no reason to RTFA anyway.

doubtless (0)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 2 years ago | (#40375121)

but Senator Ron Wyden said he'd block FAA renewal until Congress received an answer from the NSA about how many 'people in the United States have their communications reviewed by the government' under FAA powers.

Without looking him up, I'm going to go out on a limb and guess which party Senator Wyden belongs to.

Both parties seem to support the violation of the basic civil rights of American citizens, but the few individuals who occasionally stand up against this surveillance regime seem to have something in common. Just as the politicians who want to make it harder for the poor, elderly, students and minorities to cast a vote have something in common.

I won't be more specific in the name of civility. I do always try to be civil.

I think what it means is that they just don't know (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 2 years ago | (#40375413)

And to be able to get an even moderately accurate count (within an order of magnitude), I expect they would have to revisit much of the material that they have collected, not all of which may have led them to approach or convict a person who was actually guilty of anything. Revisiting all that material would be a violation of those people's privacy. Granted, these people's privacy was already violated, but that doesn't justify doing it over again just to answer a question about how many people they've done this to.

I would, to that end, assume that it numbers in the millions, perhaps even tens of millions.

310 Million +, encryption means naught (5, Funny)

EnergyScholar (801915) | about 2 years ago | (#40375589)

I agree with the poster above. NSA probably spies on all electronic traffic by everyone on Earth, which includes all residents of North America. I'd like to take this occasion to remind people about ECHELON [wikipedia.org] , the 'secret' signals intelligence gathering system whose existence was leaked to the public in 1996 by some very brave Aussies. This revelation included the detail that, since 'Five Eyes' (AUS CAN NZ UK US) [wikipedia.org] foreign intelligence agencies were forbidden by charter from spying on their own citizens, they had worked out an arrangement to spy on each others' citizens and then swap data!

I also wish to take this opportunity to suggest to security-minded readers that NSA et al have advanced cryptanalysis tools at their disposal. While your first reaction might be "Duh!", please bear with me. In this message I actually disclose new non-public, non-official, hard-but-not-impossible-to-verify information. Specifically, I'd like to blow the whistle on the fact that they have probably had a working Quantum Computer system capable of cracking Public Key Cryptography since about 1996. Thus, even your encrypted data has been seen by NSA computers although, of course, that decrypted data set must be partitioned separately and used with extreme care, so as not to reveal its existence.

Science-oriented readers might wonder just what sort of QC could have been built a full 18 years ago, when current technology is just nearing the point of developing a useful QC. The answer is that they generated a 'teleportation/entanglement-based winner-take-all style recurrent topological quantum neural network', then trained it to emulate a Quantum Turing Machine that could run Shor's Algorithm. It exists in the physical form of a complex system composed of 'anyons' [wikipedia.org] interacting with each other within a 'two dimensional electron gas' [wikipedia.org] . Anyons can be generated by moving precision arrays of powerful electromagnets very near the surface of the 2DEG, like creating whirlpools in the bathtub with your hand. I strongly suspect the scientists involved discovered a rule, analogous to Rule 110 [wikipedia.org] , that operates directly on the physical system of anyons within a 2DEG. For the detailed scientific underpinnings I suggest you study the collected works of Stuart Kauffman [wikipedia.org] , Steven Wolfram [wikipedia.org] , David Deutsch [wikipedia.org] , and Robert Laughlin [wikipedia.org] . You have no reason to trust what I'm saying, and disinformation is entirely too common, but I want readers to understand that it is possible for a sufficiently determined and intelligent person to verify that what I just said is probably true, although certainly NOT just by Googling for it :-)

Readers should note that the new technology I describe is not limited to running Shor's algorithm and,in fact, is a powerful new general technology with various other uses. None of which matter much until this whole thing is declassified, so that civilian scientists will be able to study and publish on the topic. The NSA et al is keeping it secret to prevent everyone from knowing that PKI is no longer secure. IMHO this is insufficient reason to keep secret important new scientific knowledge.

Finally, lest someone complain that I might be harming National Security by making the above disclosure, I'd like to point out that China and Russia already have working QCs of their own that function on similar principles. This is an open secret within the Intelligence Community. Thus, I am disclosing new information to Slashdot readers and to the general public whom they might tell about it, but I am NOT telling international spies anything they don't already know. As far as I can tell most everyone who has worked on one of these systems is bound by ironclad Non Disclosure Agreements of one sort or another, but I would not be shocked if leaks sometimes occurred. The NDA seems to come in several flavors. I began to suspect the existence and nature of this system about nine years ago, and have dedicated many years to learning just how the science works and fitting all the details into place. Readers should know that the only controversial part of this post is my claim that this system was ACTUALLY BUILT so long ago, and my choice to disclose it, not that it would probably work as described.

This would be a great message to stash away in an offline storage medium, then check back every six months to see if it has been scraped off slashdot and search engine archives. I'm hoping that last sentence keeps this message from being censored, so please do your part, save it offline, and check back every six months for as long as you remember. I have other such messages, some with far more detail, working their way through the internet and into the media, and would welcome contact from interested parties. I have not signed any NDA, although I have recently been invited to do so. I consider myself a journalist exercising my Constitutional right, as a US Citizen, to freedom of protected speech. Finding me is a sort of very simple intelligence test, since I'm not hiding my identity.

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