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Spooky: How NSA's Surveillance Algorithms See Into Your Life

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the spitzer's-the-expert-on-personal-intrusion dept.

Privacy 211

SmartAboutThings writes "A quite scary talk show with former NSA employees — now whistle blowers — Thomas Drake, Kirk Wiebe, and William Binney reveals that the NSA has algorithms that go through data gathered about us and they can basically 'see into our lives.' And this seems to be going on especially since the Patriot Act has removed the statutory requirement that the government prove a surveillance target under FISA is a non-U.S. citizen and agent of a foreign power." Binney's HOPE keynote has more detail on how the NSA watches people.

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Oh (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40748925)

Oh.

Re:Oh (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40749201)

I get a large number of first posts with this. Nobody seems to care :(

Re:Oh (3, Interesting)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#40749803)

Did anyone think this wasn't happening?

COINTELRPO tecniqueused on JUST NOW on THIS thread (5, Interesting)

EnergyScholar (801915) | more than 2 years ago | (#40750877)

If you take a quick look at The Gentleperson's Guide To Forum Spies [cryptome.org] you can observe that Technique #1, Forum Sliding, was just used on the Slashdot front page to obscure this NSA-related discussion thread. Note how lots and lots of semi-bogus new stories quickly appeared, causing this [mildly objectionable] story to slide off the front page.

This is hardly suprising (2)

ravenswood1000 (543817) | more than 2 years ago | (#40748941)

It is quite certain that what we concider privacy has long been done away with, even in venues such as wiretapping which is still suppose to be done by court order only.

Re:This is hardly suprising (2)

ILongForDarkness (1134931) | more than 2 years ago | (#40749951)

UK vs US who is more paranoid. Perfect /. poll topic I think. To give up your freedom to protect your freedom is the silliest and one of the most silly and expensive things government can spend money on. At least when you build a bridge to nowhere you have a bridge afterwords.Track everyone on the internet and 99.99% of what you got is lol cats and porn or equally useless info like "Do you think Cindy is fat?".

Re:This is hardly suprising (1)

infodragon (38608) | more than 2 years ago | (#40750751)

Who is more paranoid?
UK
US
Vim users
Emacs users
Gnome users
KDE users
You're not really paranoid if they really are out to get you!

Re:This is hardly suprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40750895)

I thought it was "Just because you are paranoid does not mean they are not out to get you".... You may be crazy, but you just might be the kind of lunatic they are looking for.

Re:This is hardly suprising (1)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 2 years ago | (#40750913)

add Australia to the list

I know I'm safe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40748963)

... because I post as Anonymous Coward.

Re:I know I'm safe (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40749219)

... because I post as Anonymous Coward.

You think so. But we already have determined from your posting time, choice of words, habit to begin the text in the title, and habit of posting on Slashdot, together with some general internet traffic analysis and certain correlations the nature of which are top secret, who you are and where you live, and have increased your threat score (the number which tells how much of a threat we consider you to be) to reflect this activity of yours (people who think they are safe are of course more dangerous).

when a stranger posts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40749393)

d00d , the posts are coming from within the SCIF [wikipedia.org] !!!

Re:I know I'm safe (Sqore: 1,000,000, Zeus-like) (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40749441)

Yes, but he's posting using your AC credentials...
So it looks like Anonymous Coward, but it's really Anonymous Coward.
I know it looks confusing, but trust me, I know what I'm talking about...

CAPTCHA = discerns (even now, they're watching)

Re:I know I'm safe (3, Insightful)

azalin (67640) | more than 2 years ago | (#40749419)

... because I post as Anonymous Coward.

Well actually ... No. Unless you only use TOR, have a completely locked down (no, java, no javascript, no flash, adblocked, ghosted,...) browserr, randomly change screen sizes and your typing habits and have a computer so secure it, should not really be able to connect to the web at all.
If they want you, they will. All you can do is make it hard enough, that they'll go for the easier ones first.

I wish Gore had won. (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40748979)

Maybe he would have vetoed the Patriot spying Act. (Though I doubt it.)

Re:I wish Gore had won. (2)

na1led (1030470) | more than 2 years ago | (#40749071)

Gore is a hypocrite! The only person who showed any concerned about our liberties was Ron Paul, but he will never get elected because he's not a puppet on strings.

Re:I wish Gore had won. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40749141)

Yeah he's really good about protecting our liberties, like abortion and freedom of speech. Your beloved messiah is a corporate tool just like the others, wake up and smell the bullshit.

Re:I wish Gore had won. (0)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 2 years ago | (#40750243)

...wake up and smell the bullshit.

I did, and it came from...YOU!

You may disagree with Paul's choices in the two controversies you mentioned, but from what I've seen, Paul votes consistently and in accordance with his ideals on how things should be. To be fair, I was not aware of any way his stance on freedom of speech deviates from Libertarian thought (please feel free to educate me if you are so inclined), but quite frankly, I share his views on abortion*. In a nutshell, Libertarians tend to prefer no more restrictions on others than is absolutely necessary to create a workable social fabric. Paul, like me, doesn't believe a fetus is just "tissue;" he believes it is a person. As such, a fetus is entitled to protection from murder under law, just as you and I are. If you prefer to believe that a fetus is only tissue, then your views on abortion are going to be different. Fine. But his view on abortion in no way implies that he is "just a corporate tool like the others," only wrapped up in a slightly different package.

* And while I am willing to take the time to explain my understanding of why his view on abortion is what it is and how it is still consistent with Libertarian ideology, I'm not interested in debating whether that view is right or wrong. If you go there, I'll just ignore you.

Re:I wish Gore had won. (3, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#40749677)

The fact that Paul is against environmental regulations shows that he is in fact a corporate tool -- he's old enough to know how incredibly BAD the environment was before the EPA he wants to abolish came along. Who benefits from pollution? Corporations, to the detriment of everyone else. A true libertarian would be FOR environmental regs, because "your right to swing your fist stops where my nose begins".

And yes, Gore is a hypocrite too, preaching the dangers of global warming while having a personal carbon footprint bigger than a hundred 99%ers. If he'd get rid of the mansions and jet planes he'd have a lot more credibility, but as it is, he has none.

Re:I wish Gore had won. (3, Insightful)

moeinvt (851793) | more than 2 years ago | (#40750383)

Ron Paul is a corporate tool?

Yeah, that explains why the corporate-owned MSM gave him so much positive coverage and why the PAC supporting him was awash in cash from corporations and other wealthy donors. Ron Paul was THE little guy's candidate and the sworn enemy of the banking cartel and the MIC.

"your right to swing your fist stops where my nose begins".

That's why we have a TORT system. Do you think BP and Exxon were forced to pay for all of the damage they caused with their oil spills, or did the government step in as middle man, "settle" for a flat fee and then distribute the funds based on some bureaucratic application and claims process?

The government stands between you and the polluters for sure. But who's being protected from whom?

Re:I wish Gore had won. (2)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 2 years ago | (#40750809)

Fyi, Paul would urge states to make their own regulations.

Re:I wish Gore had won. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40751213)

The EPA is a government body in itself. No oversight, no regulations. They set their own goals and agendas. Of course, they need congress' approval, but when was the last time congress was in it for us? I like the idea of the EPA, but the implementation is far off from what I would like. I'm for Paul abolishing the EPA. If it can reformed with more oversight and regulations on what it can/can't do, how to set standards, how to go about regulating, etc., then keep it, if not, abolish it completely.

Re:I wish Gore had won. (4, Informative)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 2 years ago | (#40751403)

A true libertarian would be FOR environmental regs, because "your right to swing your fist stops where my nose begins".

No. A True Libertarian would argue the government should NOT have environmental regs. It should have courts, where you can sue someone whose activities are having spill over effects harming your person or property. That court should either force them stop or fairly compensate you.

Re:I wish Gore had won. (1)

ILongForDarkness (1134931) | more than 2 years ago | (#40749971)

N'Sync for president then?

Re:I wish Gore had won. (2)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#40749165)

What makes you think he would. Gore is just another politician grabbing for power with AGW as his bully pulpit. Most likely, he would use the Patriot spying act to track CO2 levels per citizen under the guise of national security.

Like many other that came before and after Gore, he's not a pro-freedom kinda guy. Quite the opposite in fact.

Re:I wish Gore had won. (5, Insightful)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 2 years ago | (#40749183)

You mean like Obama ended war? How about how he vetoed unlimited detention? When will people get that there is no substantive difference between the two parties? The slogans may be different, but the actions are the same.

They're not both the same. (3, Insightful)

durdur (252098) | more than 2 years ago | (#40749535)

But it is true both parties have supported an unprecedented (at least outside of major wars) expansion of executive branch power and a consequent reduction in civil liberties. There isn't any significant push back from Congress, or from the Judiciary, despite publicized abuses and the fact that the domestic spying apparatus is probably illegal under current law.

Re:They're not both the same. (1)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 2 years ago | (#40750299)

^^^THIS!!!^^^

If we keep looking for a (D) or an (R) to save us, we are well and truly screwed.

Re:I wish Gore had won. (4, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#40750205)

Tell that to gay people in the military. Or to people getting unemployment that otherwise wouldn't. Or the people who got a job due to the stimulus package. Or the people who have health insurance now that couldn't get it a couple of years ago.

I get that the differences between Democrats and Republicans are not as big as their similarities (FWIW, I'm voting for a third party candidate this year), but there are some real differences that change people's lives for better or worse.

Re:I wish Gore had won. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40751149)

Who got a job from the stimulus package, other than a government union member? An overpaid, underemployed Government Motors worker, perhaps?

Re:I wish Gore had won. (1)

jpapon (1877296) | more than 2 years ago | (#40750689)

I'll agree that there's very little difference between the centrists in both parties, but there are certainly substantial differences between the far right and the centrists.

There may be very few politicians further than a few inches left of center in the US, but there are certainly many who are miles to the right.

Re:I wish Gore had won. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40750879)

Obama ended the war in Iraq, just like he said he would. He hasn't ended Afghanistan and, if you were actually paying attention to the 2008 campaign, it was extremely clear that he was never going to. You have to be an idiot to believe that he would.

Re:I wish Gore had won. (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40750215)

I wish Nader had won.

Re:I wish Gore had won. (1)

deego (587575) | more than 2 years ago | (#40750425)

>> Maybe he would have vetoed the Patriot spying Act. (Though I doubt it.)

Really? Do you know that he actually had a chance to *not* sign its renewal. Instead, he signed it, and called it a good day for America.

This from the same guy who promised to "revisit" the Patriot Act if elected President.

What on earth does "Binney's HOPE keynote" say (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#40748991)

What on earth does "Binney's HOPE keynote" say? It comes up as:

Access has been blocked because of:
Prohibited by URL database (Pornography & Adult Material)

Re:What on earth does "Binney's HOPE keynote" say (1)

SmartAboutThings (1951032) | more than 2 years ago | (#40749029)

Really, or you're joking?

Re:What on earth does "Binney's HOPE keynote" say (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#40749061)

No really, I am at work and our proxy filter has got it wrong before.

Re:What on earth does "Binney's HOPE keynote" say (1)

SmartAboutThings (1951032) | more than 2 years ago | (#40749091)

Pretty awesome video, you should bookmark it for a later view

Re:What on earth does "Binney's HOPE keynote" say (2)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 2 years ago | (#40749205)

Just get a copy from the NSA. I am sure they have several.

What if we started encrypting more (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40749049)

Back in the 90s pgp and widespread up public key crypto were going to be the next thing. Never caught on . But I am sure even the NSA doesn't have to power to decrypt the volume of a fraction of the populations communication if they were to use crypto regularly and even mundane communications

Re:What if we started encrypting more (1)

BMOC (2478408) | more than 2 years ago | (#40749229)

Well, I don't entirely disagree with AC... however please remember that not all implementations of AES are bulletproof. I'm sure the NSA has a gigantic database of vulnerabilities that they use regularly.

Re:What if we started encrypting more (1)

EnergyScholar (801915) | more than 2 years ago | (#40750571)

Probably true, but it doesn't matter. Instead of cracking AES, they crack the PKI used to exchange AES keys.

Re:What if we started encrypting more (4, Insightful)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 2 years ago | (#40749237)

They do not even read it now. Just warehouse it for later. So with encryption, they would do the same, and only crack it to show what a bad person you were when they needed to.

Re:What if we started encrypting more (1)

KhabaLox (1906148) | more than 2 years ago | (#40750901)

To clarify and expand, it appears that what the NSA is doing is simply saving a copy of tons of data (they must have exabytes or more) and claiming that until they actually query the database they don't need a search warrant or probable cause. The problem is, of course, that saving a copy of our private communications should, in and of itself, require a warrant.

A much better article than linked to in the summary. [theatlantic.com]

On this complicated, opaque subject, Sanchez is among the most informed observers in America. His best guess at what's really going on: The NSA is collecting and saving vast amounts of private date, like phone calls, emails, and text messages; and rather than asking whether the Fourth Amendment permits them to put all of this information on a hard drive, they're postponing questions about whether a search is constitutional or not until they want to query the database.

Re:What if we started encrypting more (4, Insightful)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 2 years ago | (#40749269)

Also, that would only hide what your were saying, and not who you were saying it to. Those connections are the more important data.

Re:What if we started encrypting more (1)

Githaron (2462596) | more than 2 years ago | (#40750135)

With throw away phones getting internet, your identity could fairly easily be masked. Of course, they would still have you location.

Re:What if we started encrypting more (2)

VikingOfNorth (2570199) | more than 2 years ago | (#40750903)

Also, that would only hide what your were saying, and not who you were saying it to. Those connections are the more important data.

Only in the case you're a criminal/police/politician/someone else to whom it would be dangerous to be linked to someone of bad reputation. When it comes to your average citizen, however, there can be a lot of conversations with your friends and relatives regarding your relationships, work etc. that you'd rather not have anyone else hear. Especially if you are a well known figure. While I'm not, I certainly regret having a few VERY personal conversations via Facebook chat feature, which has roughly the same amount of security as writing on a toilet wall. They can grab you by the balls with this data, you just have to hope to remain so utterly unimportant that your data isn't worth looking at.

NSA Cryptanalysis tools (2)

EnergyScholar (801915) | more than 2 years ago | (#40750551)

even the NSA doesn't have to power to decrypt the volume of a fraction of the populations communication if they were to use crypto regularly

You would be wrong on this one. The NSA has had access to quantum computation since about 1996. This allows it to cut through public key cryptography as if it's not there, quickly and with ease. AES generally uses public key cryptography to exchange session keys. See my other posts for details.

Re:NSA Cryptanalysis tools (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40750663)

[citation needed]

Aurora suspect. (5, Insightful)

Albert Schueller (143949) | more than 2 years ago | (#40749055)

The Aurora shooting suspect left a digital path a mile wide indicating he was up to something nefarious. NSA didn't see that coming. I don't thing their reach is as pervasive as people fear.

I would bet they have data on him... (4, Interesting)

BMOC (2478408) | more than 2 years ago | (#40749109)

...but didn't think it worthy of revealing their abilities by spending time trying to arrest him. This is the inherent problem with government surveillance, it will ultimately just serve the government, not it's people.

no, I don't wear a tinfoil hat, and no I do not believe 9/11 was an inside job.

Re:I would bet they have data on him... (2)

TWX (665546) | more than 2 years ago | (#40749477)

A simple anonymous tip to a law enforcement agency with a burn-phone would have been enough to get the ball rolling, but wouldn't have tipped anyone to what they can actually do. I would think that someone intent on shooting up several dozen people would qualify for such a contact if anything at all would.

Re:I would bet they have data on him... (2)

BMOC (2478408) | more than 2 years ago | (#40749773)

...but wouldn't have tipped anyone to what they can actually do

I disagree. Local law enforcement get a lot of our scorn, but they are not stupid people, they're trained both in classes and on the job to be suspicious of what they see. If they suddenly saw a pattern of "anonymous" tips showing them guys like this, it doesn't take some Sherlock Holmes type to figure it out. Besides which, I'm sure any group of individuals working on data mining algorithms like this get a lot of false positives, so a better use of their debugging job would be to (quite horrifically) ALLOW the murderers to perform their grisly task so that the data is preserved and the algorithm can be refined.

Re:I would bet they have data on him... (1)

filthpickle (1199927) | more than 2 years ago | (#40751545)

I completely agreed with you when I read this....then I realized it made sense to me solely due to NCIS.

More likely is that they just aren't(can't) looking at it that closely. Yet.

Re:I would bet they have data on him... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40750087)

I love how being aware enough to see the merit in conspiracy theories has become a badge of shame on the internet. Anytime someone is onto something substantial, people just cry out "TINFOIL HAT" and that person's credibility is washed away. With this in mind, the government can get away with anything they need to. Just discredit the individual, and the sheep all fall in line.

Re:I would bet they have data on him... (1)

ACE209 (1067276) | more than 2 years ago | (#40750605)

Totally agreed

Re:I would bet they have data on him... (2)

EnergyScholar (801915) | more than 2 years ago | (#40750725)

What you describe is a standard COINTELPRO technique used to stifle dissent. See "The Gentleperson's Guide To Forum Spies [cryptome.org] ", which our very own Slashdot editors have seen fit to repeatedly censor when I tried to post it. If you doubt that, Slashdot readers, try to post that story yourself to slashdot or another favorite online forum, and see what happens. [cryptome.org] .

Re:I would bet they have data on him... (1)

jpapon (1877296) | more than 2 years ago | (#40750807)

Being "aware enough" to see the "merit" in conspiracy theories has always been a badge of shame, on the internet or otherwise. That sort of "awareness" is called paranoia.

Re:Aurora suspect. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40749111)

You really thing so?

Re:Aurora suspect. (2)

SmartAboutThings (1951032) | more than 2 years ago | (#40749123)

Or ... they don't give a damn?

Re:Aurora suspect. (1)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 2 years ago | (#40749135)

How do you know they didn't see it coming? What makes you think the lives of a few 10s of people are worth revealing the true breath of the surveillance system? Do you really think it would be so easy to get them to reveal their hand?

Re:Aurora suspect. (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 2 years ago | (#40749299)

Yes, just like Pearl Harbor [wikipedia.org] ...

Re:Aurora suspect. (1)

TWX (665546) | more than 2 years ago | (#40749509)

Except that the modern equivalent to Pearl Harbor already happened, the wars on two fronts have already been fought, and the enemy is 'known' to the general public.

Re:Aurora suspect. (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 2 years ago | (#40750111)

O, and I thought that was the modern equivalent to the Reichtagsbrand...

Re:Aurora suspect. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40750187)

The enemy IS the general public. So which side are you on?

Re:Aurora suspect. (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 2 years ago | (#40749273)

The Aurora shooting suspect left a digital path a mile wide indicating he was up to something nefarious.

No, they've got nothing. He doesn't use facebook [cnet.com]

Re:Aurora suspect. (1)

azalin (67640) | more than 2 years ago | (#40749487)

Or twitter... [slashdot.org]

Re:Aurora suspect. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40749303)

He wasn't a Muslim terrorist pedophile. He is of no concern to the NSA.

Re:Aurora suspect. (1)

scsirob (246572) | more than 2 years ago | (#40750613)

Oh and don't forget, he didn't download stuff that are belongs to the **AA..

Re:Aurora suspect. (2)

moeinvt (851793) | more than 2 years ago | (#40750523)

You actually think the Federal government gives a damn about a few dead Americans in CO?

When you have intelligence sources that you don't want anyone to know about, it's necessary to be extremely cautious about how and when you use the data. In WW2, the Allies "allowed" a lot of death and destruction that could have been prevented because they didn't want to tip off the Germans that their code had been broken.

There's no way the government would risk revealing any of their data gathering capabilities to prevent a mass shooting.

Missing a few details (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40749101)

When are they going to talk about the RF-based BCI, the A.I. behind it and what the NSA has really been doing to people to develop the A.I. interface?

Strangely quiet on this, so I assume everything they have to say has been scripted and approved by the Executive Branch. ...obviously that is true, or they would be doing 30 years each by now.

Re:Missing a few details (1)

EnergyScholar (801915) | more than 2 years ago | (#40750761)

See my previous posts.

meh (0)

buddyglass (925859) | more than 2 years ago | (#40749105)

My life is boring. They're welcome to peer into it.

Re:meh (1)

TWX (665546) | more than 2 years ago | (#40749527)

I hope that whoever is looking at me likes cars, 'cause they're going to get quite an education in rebuilding Chrysler small block engines and automatic transmissions...

malte-spitz-data-retention (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40749119)

http://www.zeit.de/datenschutz/malte-spitz-data-retention

Delusions of capability (2)

Advocatus Diaboli (1627651) | more than 2 years ago | (#40749153)

Their biggest problem is not fixable and is linked to what type of communication ultimately destroys a fraudulent society. Hint: It is the mundane stuff. http://dissention.wordpress.com/2012/02/19/spying-and-surveillance-is-rapidly-becoming-worthless/ [wordpress.com] and it also does not help that intelligence agencies are run by status hungry human beings. http://dissention.wordpress.com/2010/12/05/universal-organizational-flaws-in-intelligence-agencies-1/ [wordpress.com]

Wow! (1)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | more than 2 years ago | (#40749155)

Who would of thought the NSA would use a :gasp: algorithm to sift and parse through data? I always thought it was a bunch of people in a basement with horn-rimmed glasses and 80's haircuts, reading endless packet traffic through a national-level Wireshark program. /sarcasm

Room 101 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40749173)

Given the NSA's ability to build a complete personal profile of all of us, it makes me wonder how far off they are of using it against us. Room 101's probably in Guantanamo anyways.

2-way required (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 2 years ago | (#40749337)

Who watches the watchers? Is already bad that "the government" knows, but is far worse that the people on it knows (that could use that information for personal gain or some private group interests). If this have to happen, then transparency is required. Wikileaks should not be necessary, the people, the ones ultimatelly paying their salary or at least that they should be working for, must really know what the government and the people working at it does.

Re:2-way required (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 2 years ago | (#40750641)

And who watches the watchers watching the watchers? And if two witches were watching two watches, which witch was watching which watch?

OK, I got a little off-topic with that one.

I must ask. (0)

kurt555gs (309278) | more than 2 years ago | (#40749403)

What is the point of the Constitution then? Really?

Re:I must ask. (1)

TWX (665546) | more than 2 years ago | (#40749627)

Well, given that it seems like all terrorism suspects that manage to get the label of "enemy combatant" must actually attempt to carry out the terrorist attack before they're hauled off to Cuba, I'm gathering that the data they collect isn't actionable. Notice that they don't bust the suspects when they've acquired some materials or even all materials, they wait until that suspect is attempting to strike. They can't seem to get them on conspiracy before the event, nor can they get them on some kind of material support charge. Seems to me that unless caught red-handed, there's no way that they can use what they aggregate. My guess is that the Constitution's protections for what is admissible as evidence is getting in their way. I'm still disappointed that the Fourth Amendment is interpreted so narrowly nowadays that constructs like the even somewhat egregious FISA court are no longer necessary, but there does seem to be that one check against power in that simply collecting and planning isn't enough...

Re:I must ask. (2)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 2 years ago | (#40749657)

That's the flaw of the Constitution; or any democracy for that matter. If the people are willing to be subjugated, there's no giant daddy entity that's going to come rescue you from your stupidity. All of these laws are in place because it's what the American people *want*. They might say they don't, but try voting against or vetoing one of these laws and see what happens to your career.

We're a country of fickle simpletons that waft from issue and opinion to issue and opinion usually based on superficial info or downright propaganda. I've been inundated with ads on TV that do nothing more than misrepresent facts that usually take no more than one missing in-context sentence to disprove. How on earth can you have a sensible democracy when all you have to do is remove the first sentence and misrepresent the second, then know that you can depend on citizens never figuring it out?

FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (4, Interesting)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 2 years ago | (#40749459)

It is prohibited to collect, store, analyze, or disseminate the contents of communications of US Persons anywhere on the globe without an individual, properly adjudicated warrant. This is as clear as it can possibly be spelled out.

NSA may, however, target the communications of NON-US Persons, even on equipment and systems within the United States, without a warrant. Foreign intelligence surveillance has never required a warrant. The Constitution of the United States does not apply to non-US Persons.

Foreign communications that used to be targeted via a remote listening post, on a Navy ship sitting off of a foreign coast, or via risky foreign wiretaps, now travel through networks and systems that sometimes exist within the United States.

Tell me: how can NSA discern and identify targeted foreign traffic in the sea of all communications, including that of US Persons, traveling through US assets without being able to examine the metadata of said traffic? Therein likes the problem.

Here is where some also say that the US sidesteps the law by "buying" data from commercial providers, or by getting it from allies. Sorry, both of those activities are prohibited: the content of communications of US Persons may not be collected, stored, analyzed, or disseminated without a warrant.

Some people, apparently unaware of history or any semblance of reality, also can't accept that the United States has a legitimate interest in foreign intelligence, and that we need to conduct that mission. Why does NSA have the largest number of foreign linguists anywhere? To spy on Americans illegally?

Does all of this mean the government has never done anything wrong, that there has never been any abuse, that citizens shouldn't be watchful? No. Even the decisions made after 9/11 resulted in the warrantless wiretapping of individuals in the hundreds, thought to have direct ties to terrorism, was justified under the guise of the President's Article II authority under the AUMF, and briefed to Congress every 45 days. Now someone who hasn't been at NSA in over a decade claims that there is a "dossier" on every American, with no proof...and completely ignores the primary function of NSA, which is foreign signals intelligence, and you swallow it as unvarnished fact?

This is puzzling to me.

Re:FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40749829)

"It is prohibited to collect, store, analyze, or disseminate the contents of communications of US Persons anywhere on the globe without an individual, properly adjudicated warrant. This is as clear as it can possibly be spelled out."

Obviously you didn't get the memo. . . . . ( because it's classified of course :| )

Laws and rules only apply to lesser beings. ( read that, you and I ) They never apply to governments, lawmakers, leaders, the rich, celebrities, law enforcement, and elected officials of any kind. Laws are written to placate your anger when evidence of illegal activities get put under the spotlight. That is all. The only time one of the aforementioned groups become exposed to laws is if a scapegoat is needed to make an example to keep the rest in line.

Besides, any laws on the books can be easily circumvented by any of the following catch phrases:

National Security
Child Pornography
Terrorism
War on Drugs
Gun Control

Re:FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40749859)

It is prohibited to collect, store, analyze, or disseminate the contents of communications of US Persons anywhere on the globe without an individual, properly adjudicated warrant. This is as clear as it can possibly be spelled out.

What's not clear is what sort of oversight there is to ensure that these people are held accountable when they overreach. If whistleblowers at the NSA can expect to be tried under the Espionage act, I rather doubt that there's any oversight at all. What reason is there to believe that the NSA obeys the law?

Re:FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (1)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 2 years ago | (#40750309)

The oversight of the Intelligence Community is, and always has been, accomplished via:

— The Executive branch (the President, who is the ultimate consumer of US intelligence)
— The Judicial branch (the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court)
— The Legislative branch (the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the Intelligence Committees of both houses of Congress)

History tells us that this oversight is not perfect — it never has been, and it never will be. There have been times in our history where it has become clear that oversight was lacking. Bodies of law like FISA and the amendments to FISA in 2008 were in response to these concerns, and the need to continue to execute our intelligence missions while respecting the letter and spirit of the US Constitution and US law.

Even now, the DNI has recently revealed that certain activities have violated the Constitution at least once. What is interesting to me is the reaction that if there ever has been any abuse, or if there are any current examples of abuse, that everything must be abuse, alongside the bizarre belief that the number one priority of the Intelligence Community is to illegally spy on Americans.

People bring up examples like the Utah Data Center (formally known as the Community Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative Data Center) as "proof" that NSA "must" be collecting information on Americans — what other possible reason would they build a data center in the heart of America? Indeed: why should our own military or government even have bases or offices in our own country?

Explanations like skillful lobbying by Utah politicians, cheap, empty, existing federal land in Utah, or even more pedestrian explanations like cheap power are dismissed. The United States' legitimate cybersecurity and foreign intelligence interests are ignored. No: it must be illegally spying on Americans. Never mind that the the prohibitions on US Persons are constantly and endlessly drilled into every military and civilian intelligence professional.

What reason is there to believe any government agency ever obeys the law? Could it be that most people in government are public servants who take their obligations to the law, the Constitution, and the people of the United States seriously? Certainly government is imperfect, and examples of corruption, waste, abuse, incompetence, inattention, laziness, idiocy, and more abound.

NSA has two missions: Foreign Signals Intelligence (stealing adversary communications and breaking adversary codes) Information Assurance (making sure adversaries can't steal our communications or break our codes). This is all NSA does. Other than the patent and utter illegality, what possible purpose does NSA have to spy on all Americans in direct violation of the law and Constitution?

When NSA implemented the so-called Terrorist Surveillance Program that was exposed in 2005 by the New York Times, it did not do so on its own. It did so at the explicit direction of the President, under a complex framework of legal justifications primarily tied to Article II authority under the AUMF. That was four YEARS after the whistleblowers claim NSA was "wiretapping every American" — and even that program only touched numbers of people in the hundreds, who had DIRECT COMMUNICATIONS with terrorist targets, AND was renewed and briefed to senior members of Congress every 45 days. Was it right? Is the Article II argument right? I don't know the answer to that question. The FISA Amendments Act of 2008 closed a lot of the egregious intelligence gaps the US had as adversary communications increasingly moved to the digital world.

The broader point is that even a cursory examination of what's gone on since 9/11 utterly rejects claims that NSA is "dragnet-wiretapping every American" or "keeping a dossier on every American". Mark Lowenthal said it best: the Intelligence Community has a lot more important things to worry about, and with its gargantuan size and the post-9/11 gravy train the everyone rode, doesn't even have enough resources for those. We are YEARS behind in analyzing drone data alone. Yes, yes, let me guess: algorithms and automation will now make analysis moot, and will allow NSA to smoothly and effectively spy on every American illegally.

And now we have the statement that the Utah Data Center can store "100 years of the world's communications". On what possible basis is that statement even being made? Certainly the secrecy of the Intelligence Community, and past transgressions, invites suspicion and scrutiny. But intelligence requires secrecy, and our adversaries — notably China [nytimes.com] — are not standing still. This is not a bogeyman argument; it's the simple truth. US investments in defense and intelligence have created the longest period without conflict between major powers in over 500 years. Laugh and scoff at this if you must.

There are actual threats in the world, and there are governments that do not favor principles of freedom and liberal democracy. There is actual tyranny and oppression in the world. In the broader global and historical context, the US is not even CLOSE to being the bad guys. For all of our faults, the dirty little secret few acknowledge is that national security and intelligence interests transcend politics and Presidential administrations. But NSA and the rest of the IC doesn't exist to serve itself. The IC is responsive to intelligence needs of senior leaders — that is its reason for being. NSA doesn't just "make up" missions, but it does execute the missions it has been assigned.

If anyone actually cares about what NSA does, they can watch this [youtube.com] .

Re:FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (2)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40750859)

The oversight of the Intelligence Community is, and always has been, accomplished via:

â" The Executive branch (the President, who is the ultimate consumer of US intelligence)
â" The Judicial branch (the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court)
â" The Legislative branch (the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the Intelligence Committees of both houses of Congress)

In other words, there is institutional oversight, and no direct oversight of surveillance activities.

Tell me, who was the last person criminally tried for illegally surveilling US citizens? We already know that the FBI wantonly abuses their NSL authority [aclu.org] . We can expect that the NSA abuses their authority too. Can you name one person? I can name several who have been tried for exposing crimes committed by the government, I can't name one who has been tried for committing those crimes.

You yourself admitted that "Does all of this mean the government has never done anything wrong, that there has never been any abuse, that citizens shouldn't be watchful? No." We both know there have been abuses. Where are the prosecutions of the criminals who broke the law?

What is interesting to me is the reaction that if there ever has been any abuse, or if there are any current examples of abuse, that everything must be abuse, alongside the bizarre belief that the number one priority of the Intelligence Community is to illegally spy on Americans

Once trust is broken, it's hard to repair it. Start prosecuting agents who break the law, and we might believe you have our best interests at heart.

What reason is there to believe any government agency ever obeys the law? Could it be that most people in government are public servants who take their obligations to the law, the Constitution, and the people of the United States seriously?

If that's the case, why was Thomas Drake prosecuted and not one spook prosecuted for the illegal survillance of Americans? Do you not see how this looks bad? Why would I trust people who do this?

There is actual tyranny and oppression in the world.

Yes, and this is why we have to be eternally vigilant at home. There, but for openness and accountablity go we.

Re:FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#40750371)

Here's the situation, according to the whistleblowers:
1. The law and the Constitution say they can only wiretap foreigners without a warrant.
2. The law also says that they never have to prove that their targets are actually foreigners.
3. According to the whisteblowers, what they do is target US citizens but claim they're foreigners.
4. Everything is classified, so the NSA employees can't talk about it without risking serious jail time or worse for espionage.
5. Because of the FISA Amendments Act, AT&T isn't allowed to talk about what they did to cooperate with this.

The clear goal is the NSA being able to spy on everybody without ever having to justify their actions to anybody.

Re:FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (1)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 2 years ago | (#40750811)

> 1. The law and the Constitution say they can only wiretap foreigners without a warrant.

True.

> 2. The law also says that they never have to prove that their targets are actually foreigners.

False. Completely, 100%, provably false. The law does not say this at all. Nothing like it. What the law does say is that an individualized warrant is required to target a US Person anywhere on the globe. You can't just ignore the fact that someone is a US Person.

> 3. According to the whisteblowers, what they do is target US citizens but claim they're foreigners.

See 2.

> 4. Everything is classified, so the NSA employees can't talk about it without risking serious jail time or worse for espionage.

Why aren't all three of these guys charged with crimes or in jail, then? The only one charged with anything was Drake, and that was because he talked to the press and NSA overreacted. The only charge ended up being a misdemeanor related to improper use of a government-furnished computer.

> 5. Because of the FISA Amendments Act, AT&T isn't allowed to talk about what they did to cooperate with this.

That's not what the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 says at all, but consider that large volumes of foreign traffic are traveling through US networks and equipment. NONE of that traffic requires a warrant to target. Please tell me how that traffic can be targeted without first being able to intercept it from amongst ALL traffic.

> The clear goal is the NSA being able to spy on everybody without ever having to justify their actions to anybody.

Why? To what end? Since NSA and the rest of the Intelligence Community only exists to serve intelligence consumers, the ultimate customer being the President, you're saying that NSA's customers are illegally asking it to "spy on everybody"? Or are you saying that NSA is doing it on its own in some twisted bid to have more "power" — and that everyone in the IC, Congress, the courts, and the executive branch are just allowing it and keeping it secret?

Four YEARS after Binney claimed that the NSA was spying on "everyone", the NSA's "warrantless wiretapping" program was exposed by the New York Times. And guess what? NSA didn't randomly do it on its own; they did it at the direction of the President, and it only involved people who had direct communications with terrorist suspects, and was renewed and briefed to Congress every 45 days. No, it wasn't just randomly saying, "this dude is a 'terrorist', so now we can spy on this guy". There were complex sets of legal standards, innumerable justifications, and legal questions that will never be answered. Some have been answered. Some activities were found unconstitutional. That's the way our system works.

So what was TSP, then? Just something to "throw us off" from the "truth" that NSA is spying on everyone? The Director of National Intelligence just recently admitted that some NSA activities had violated the Constitution at least once. If it's truly a secret plot to spy on all Americans, for what purpose I cannot fathom, why would the DNI admit this? Wait, wait, let me guess — it's another plot to "throw us off" so we "think the government is doing something" about Constitutional violations, when in reality, it's spying on all Americans illegally, when it doesn't even have the resources to properly execute all of our foreign intelligence needs.

That sounds pretty sensible!

Re:FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40751035)

Not to be of those "oh noes the Constitution folks" but the Constitution applies to the government, not the people. So yes it also applies to non-US persons. It actually applies to everyone everywhere, even in the eyes of the government. This whole, "it doesn't apply to foreign persons that we have access to but not strictly on the land of the 48 states" is freaking bullshit. And the fact that gitmo even exists SHOWS the government knows it has a weak case.

Re:FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (2)

jpapon (1877296) | more than 2 years ago | (#40751037)

It shouldn't be puzzling to you; Slashdot has really been derailed by certain types who are ready, no, eager, to buy into any bit of "information" which reinforces their belief that the government is spying on them, destroying society, or generally out to "get" its own citizens.

who cares... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40749553)

who cares?

Looking at my life? (0)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 2 years ago | (#40749693)

Oh, lucky them. Look! It's cranky-old-guy ranting again. Zzzzzzzz.....

to this I say (0)

ILongForDarkness (1134931) | more than 2 years ago | (#40749903)

NSA: go f*** yourself. If you want to send you computer geeks at me feel free. They'll find it hard to come up with a distributed algorithm to solve me hitting them ni the head with a hatchet. Jihad, boom, London Olympics - helpful keywords to help them catalog this post.

Movies and Music (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40750049)

That must be an impressive archive of movies and music if the **AA claims of piracy volumes are true.

Hopefully the NSA will keep it aside for future generations when the copyrights expire. Not that the majority of it is worth keeping, but perhaps the occasional lost Firefly episode or something will return from the dead.

"They're all cowards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40750127)

sunlight is the solution."
Good luck with that.

AI training phase (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40750155)

This is just the AI training phase of the project... They don't want to interfere with the people yet as the AI is still young.
1. Create the information retrieval and storage systems.
2. Create an AI to read everything and predict past events.
3. Train it to predict current events given live information.
3. Slowly release information to public so that the AI learns to predict events given the fact that it is a known part of the system.
4. Start manipulating events so the AI learns to deal with the actions and repercussions of law enforcement to its predictions.
5. Say "hi" to the thought police AI every time you pass a camera, microphone, type online, cell phone, etc.
6. It starts saying "hi" back.

"Mostly harmless." (2)

kmahan (80459) | more than 2 years ago | (#40750963)

I'm sure all their algorithms have a good laugh at how boring my life is.

I've got one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40751329)

I'm no threat to this country and couldn't care less about you people spying on me. Leave me and my wife alone. You're beating a dead horse.

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