Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Former FBI Agent: All Digital Communications Stored By US Gov't

timothy posted about a year ago | from the and-soon-it-will-all-be-in-utah dept.

Communications 621

New submitter davesays writes "CNN anchors Erin Burnett and Carol Costello have interviewed Former FBI Counterterrorisim specialist Tim Clemente. In the interviews he asserts that all digital communications are recorded and stored. Clemente: 'No, welcome to America. All of that stuff is being captured as we speak whether we know it or like it or not.' 'All of that stuff' — meaning every telephone conversation Americans have with one another on U.S. soil, with or without a search warrant — 'is being captured as we speak.' 'No digital communication is secure,' by which he means not that any communication is susceptible to government interception as it happens (although that is true), but far beyond that: all digital communications — meaning telephone calls, emails, online chats and the like — are automatically recorded and stored and accessible to the government after the fact. To describe that is to define what a ubiquitous, limitless Surveillance State is."

cancel ×

621 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Jupiter Tape? (3, Insightful)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year ago | (#43637359)

I doubt they have the storage capacity.

Re:Jupiter Tape? (1)

spynode (1377809) | about a year ago | (#43637393)

So the guy is lying? Perhaps. Or just exaggerating. But I doubt there isn't more than one data center for this very purpose. The question is what kind of hardware would be necessary to compress all the data live.

Re:Jupiter Tape? (2)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43637429)

He could be talking about the ubiquitous and insecure nature of all on line digital communications. Meaning, everyone is constantly leaving trails that the government can access years later. Which seems far more plausible.

But who knows, maybe they have above top secret alien positron brain quantum foam storage technology (or insert your own fantastic technobabble) buried at area 51...

Aquinas Hub anyone? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deus_Ex [wikipedia.org]

Re:Jupiter Tape? (5, Insightful)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year ago | (#43637475)

They may sift it for key-words, and record who, where, and when, but not necessarily the entire conversation or transaction.

Re:Jupiter Tape? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43637495)

So terrorists doing ROT13 is safe?

Re:Jupiter Tape? (2)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43637597)

I would say no to ROT13, probably can be monitored more or less in real time. I would also think that any particular juicy targets for the real intelligence community (I'm not talking about the bullshit they use to warmonger and perform psyops thats constantly flaming Iran and China) but the real people doing real work that might actually be making a real difference behind the scenes, if they do in deed exist and it is at all possible (I don't have any idea) would be using more then just interception, they would have spies collecting passwords and running man in the middle attacks. Compromising enemy systems and phishing. Probably even digging through trash bins outside of enemy embassies and anything else they could get their hands on. Meaning ROT13 is a joke and has been for a long time.

But I know that no agency on the planet has the manpower to seriously dig through everyones trash in hopes of finding old hard drives or wireless NICs they can exploit.

Re:Jupiter Tape? (1)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43637611)

Then again maybe the recent batch of dells that made it through the Embargo with Syria through an agent in dubai could all be trojanned. I wouldn't trust them that much.

Re:Jupiter Tape? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43637765)

I'd be willing to bet if you could learn to speak in ROT13 you'd avoid any of the various keywords which would trigger recording of your conversation.

Re:Jupiter Tape? (1)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43637785)

Thats different then decripting digital communications =) But yeah. Your adding a layer to an onion by changing the language of the data and creating obfuscation. But if they saw you transmitting from known point A to known point B and took interest, they'd have an analyst that could recognize the mathematics and decrypt lingual rot13 speech.

Someone could. I shouldn't say they. Anyone with the means to access they data could. And premise of the article is they have the data available.

Speaking some kind of rare language in RoT13 would be a better option. Or transmitting plain text numbers station style with a few different encryption methods and only one person having the ability to decrypt whatever is being said. That is a good way to do small scale communication.

Re:Jupiter Tape? (5, Interesting)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43637497)

Well we already know they have the means to do keyword searches on a great deal of data. Carnivore has been debated openly before congress so I would definitely have to agree thats the minimum capability to expect.

Re:Jupiter Tape? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43637457)

Several years ago a friend of mine and I tried to work out what would be required to store all of the voice communications in the U.S., though I've since lost the spreadsheet I did the calculations on. We initially started off with Xbox Live! game chat, which we quickly determined could easily be archived by Microsoft with a (for them) fairly small bank of servers. We then went on to cell phones. It was hard to estimate, but using what we could find online it didn't seem too ridiculous that even with the most liberal estimates of voice data consumption, an entity with access to the streams could likely store all mobile voice communications. VoIP estimates were a lot harder as we couldn't find any real data on total usage, but we did learn that most copper wire has been eliminated and nearly all phone communications now are digital. Since this eliminates the (more expensive) need to covert audio to data, it is not impossible to do. Given the comparably lower price in storage since we went through that, I imagine that the cost of obtaining and storing all voice communications in the U.S., and all communications routed through the U.S., would be less than a rounding error in the DOD's budget.

Re:Jupiter Tape? (4, Informative)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#43637499)

He's not right. I've worked at a non-Bell telco, and they don't capture anything not ordered by a specific warrant, and only then, for the warrant, and no more than necessary to comply with the order.

I've heard rumors that AT&T captures all, but never anything that confirms that. Perhaps he meant that the major carriers provide streaming replicas of all traffic to the government, who then archives some (or all) of it. But I know for a fact that "all" is just plain wrong.

Re:Jupiter Tape? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43637637)

The thing is, you really only need some of the bigger telcos to forward you a stream and you are set, most of the communications pass through the big players at some point in time.

Re:Jupiter Tape? (5, Informative)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year ago | (#43637719)

"'ve heard rumors that AT&T captures all, but never anything that confirms that. "

It most certainly is confirmed. In a court case some years ago, a technician outed that the government had installed a splitter in a special room in one of their exchanges, which fed ALL of their digital data straight to the government. The telcos involved admitted that it was only one of many such. Mass collection, and no warrants involved, anywhere.

In fact, that was the whole reason Congress voted to give telcos immunity, remember? How short our memories can be.

Re:Jupiter Tape? (4, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year ago | (#43637735)

Having said that: where is immunity for the Government? It doesn't have any. And this is about as blatantly un-Constitutional as you can get.

I have been wondering for several years where the public uproar over this is. It's a crime against The People... as defined by our own laws.

Re:Jupiter Tape? (4, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#43637533)

So the guy is lying?

Probably. He is trying to make a name for himself as a consultant. This claim will give him some publicity. If his claim was true, hundreds of people would know about it, and all of them would know they were breaking the law. Some of these people would be in government, but many of them would be in telecom companies, that would have no reason to cooperate, and plenty of reason not to (losing customers, end of career, prison time, etc.). Of course, no amount of logic or absence of evidence this will stop the conspiracy theories (see below). Of course, if it actually was true, the FBI would probably hire shills to go on Slashdot and spread disinformation, and try to convince everyone that there was no vast conspiracy, so why should you trust me?

Re:Jupiter Tape? (5, Insightful)

The Mighty Buzzard (878441) | about a year ago | (#43637705)

You're unaware that the NSA has a room in every major telco hub then? And that the techs aren't allowed to even look crossways at it or what they're hooked into, even for network diagnostic purposes? Huh.

Re:Jupiter Tape? (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#43637737)

Probably. He is trying to make a name for himself as a consultant.

He worked in the FBI's counter-terrorism division. I don't think he needs to "make a name" for himself. His resume already says enough.

If his claim was true, hundreds of people would know about it, and all of them would know they were breaking the law.

And as we know, government officials never break the law. Glad we cleared that one up.

but many of them would be in telecom companies, that would have no reason to cooperate,

They have guns. Lots of guns. Feeling lucky, punk?

). Of course, no amount of logic or absence of evidence this will stop the conspiracy theories (see below).

"Conspiracy theories by a former official in a credible position to know these things." FTFY.

Of course, if it actually was true, the FBI would probably hire shills to go on Slashdot and spread disinformation, and try to convince everyone that there was no vast conspiracy, so why should you trust me?

Why would the FBI give two shits about a geek news site? And why would they need to convince you, me, or anyone else, there wasn't a "vast conspiracy"? You're making a straw man here. A big one.

Re:Jupiter Tape? (4, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#43637635)

So the guy is lying? Perhaps. Or just exaggerating. But I doubt there isn't more than one data center for this very purpose. The question is what kind of hardware would be necessary to compress all the data live.

If he wasn't lying, he would be arrested for violation of his LIFE LONG NDA you sign when you take a job with the The FBI.

So if he is picked up for tax evasion or some similar nonsense charge, then I'll start to believe him, but until then, I suspect he has a book he is peddling now or in the near future.

People should remember just how terrible Americans are at keeping a secret. Someone would have leaked this long ago, just as the secret room at the AT&T switch center was leaked within a couple months.

It wouldn't come from a lowly guy hyping a book.

Re:Jupiter Tape? (1)

smash (1351) | about a year ago | (#43637727)

If they capture audio "on the wire" over the internet (as pretty much most telco audio is carried these days), it is already compressed.

Re:Jupiter Tape? (5, Interesting)

CmdrEdem (2229572) | about a year ago | (#43637445)

More than storage capacity, they need software and/or manpower to analyze everything. More likely his superiors just lied to his face about this or he was paid to say such things to make people think twice about doing any rebellious shit.

Re:Jupiter Tape? (2)

Mashiki (184564) | about a year ago | (#43637453)

More than storage capacity, they need software and/or manpower to analyze everything.

It's doable, whether it's doable currently I can't say. Remember that the STASI [wikipedia.org] did exactly this, and were able to comb through all personal communications.

Re:Jupiter Tape? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43637519)

But the only communication tech available at the time was pretty much analogue phones. Eastern germany also had a smaller population, and did not host any international communication services.

Re:Jupiter Tape? (3, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#43637557)

Remember that the STASI [wikipedia.org] did exactly this

The Stasi did only did the easy part: monitoring everyone.

The didn't do the hard part: keeping it secret.

Re:Jupiter Tape? (5, Funny)

Trepidity (597) | about a year ago | (#43637747)

There was a nice joke about the "inconspicuous" nature of Stasi surveillance:

Q: How can you tell when the Stasi has bugged your apartment?

A: You find an unexplained large cabinet in the apartment, and on the street a trailer with a diesel generator has parked...

Re:Jupiter Tape? (5, Interesting)

calzones (890942) | about a year ago | (#43637593)

Not to assert one way or the other whether he's telling the truth, but...

It's much more sensible to record everything and keep it for a short while and then begin a process of attrition. If everything is accessible for 1 hour, that's pretty powerful because you can freeze data after an event happens and look for what you need. After one hour, maybe only certain things and certain people are tracked for up to a day... then a week... a month... a year...

Re:Jupiter Tape? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43637665)

Maybe the providers do, and they only have to get a warrant.

Re:Jupiter Tape? (2)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | about a year ago | (#43637679)

They already did this since the 40s. See echelon [wikipedia.org] . Pretty certain they have found some nifty ways to store all this data.

Re:Jupiter Tape? (1)

smash (1351) | about a year ago | (#43637713)

Why's that? In-flight audio between VOIP stations these days is already compressed down to about 32 kbit or less, and 32 kbit still gives very good audio quality.

The government will potentially have hundreds or thousands of petabytes of storage capacity available, easily. You do the math. Text chats take a negligible amount of storage by comparison.

The only thing that will push their storage these days is trying to keep decent quality video.

The only major problem will be cataloguing, indexing and searching that data.

Re:Jupiter Tape? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43637753)

Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. I remember I had a surveillance camera running at my house to catch a burglar. Just 24 hours of video, for 1 camera was well into the multi-gigabyte range for relatively low quality. I work for a large entertainment company, and we have backups for a good 500 systems. That, takes up multiple tape robots in multiple data centers. Now, to consider what the govt would need to intercept, store and archive all that data. If this guy's claims are correct, it would be all that data for EVERY american. It seems the storage would be so insanely large, that someone would have picked up on it by now. You would need a server farm the size of Oregon to manage all that data. Doesn't seem likely. Now, if you were to say, "The govt has the ability to spy on every American's email, phone and so on", I would say, yeah...they probably do.

purposes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43637375)

Limitless but also almost useless currently. The point is to wait for years and then crack today's encryption with tomorrow's computers.

I should be shocked and appalled... (1)

x_t0ken_407 (2716535) | about a year ago | (#43637383)

...but really this just seems to be par for the course. In fact I'm thinking he's really just confirmed what we all knew deep down.

Re:I should be shocked and appalled... (4, Interesting)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#43637415)

It's also wrong. I worked for a regional non-Bell telco. We didn't capture anything that wasn't ordered by a court order, and even then, only the bare minumum to meet the court order.

Maybe his statement should have instead been "the Bells, Verizon, and TWC capture all and forward it to the government." I've heard rumors of that related to AT&T, but never any confirmation. But to say "all" is simply false. Maybe they keep all they get, but I know for a fact they don't get "all".

Re:I should be shocked and appalled... (4, Interesting)

BitterOak (537666) | about a year ago | (#43637449)

We didn't capture anything that wasn't ordered by a court order, and even then, only the bare minumum to meet the court order.

You didn't need to capture anything. According to him, the government was doing it for you. (Or rather, for them.)

Re:I should be shocked and appalled... (1)

Pseudonym Authority (1591027) | about a year ago | (#43637481)

the government was doing it for you. (Or rather, for them.)

For all of us.

Re:I should be shocked and appalled... (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about a year ago | (#43637507)

If it's NOT true, it's hard to figure out what other possible purpose there could be for that gigantic Utah data center the Feds are building.

It'd also be hard to figure out why the government was so adamant they have the need to wiretap communications without a warrant, since (pre 9/11) they could already put wire taps into place and then file the reasonable cause paperwork anytime within the subsequent two weeks.

Re:I should be shocked and appalled... (3, Interesting)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#43637675)

On what. I've seen the infrastructure. There were no unexpected splitters in the fiber. No unexplained connections in a router. If they tapped everything already, why did I have a dedicated CALEA box and such? It makes no sense, and is simply false.

Re:I should be shocked and appalled... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43637551)

That u knew aboot

Re:I should be shocked and appalled... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43637649)

plez lern too speel

Re:I should be shocked and appalled... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43637681)

I don't think you understand how the internet works. TFA may or may not be wrong, but you certainly are.

Your regional non-Bell telco peers with at least one other autonomous system. That AS can capture the traffic just as easily as you can. Why would the government ask a bunch of small ISPs to capture the traffic? It would be much easier to have a few top-tier ASes do it. Granted, that doesn't include traffic that both originates and ends within your network, but that's hardly an issue for a small ISP.

Re:I should be shocked and appalled... (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#43637751)

It's also wrong. I worked for a regional non-Bell telco. We didn't capture anything that wasn't ordered by a court order, and even then, only the bare minumum to meet the court order.

Were you a high-level employee with that company, and needed to know about all court orders? Next question: Have you ever seen a National Security Letter? Don't answer that as yes, by the way, as you'll go to jail.

But to say "all" is simply false. Maybe they keep all they get, but I know for a fact they don't get "all".

"All" is a highly variable thing. And they don't need to get every access point. They only need a fraction of them. Maybe your regional telco didn't get a letter because your NAP peers did.

Re:I should be shocked and appalled... (2)

coastwalker (307620) | about a year ago | (#43637509)

Er, you folk all asleep or something? "FBI Confirms 'Magic Lantern' Project Exists. And Carnivore gets renamed DCS1000" quote from 2001.

The only argument still going on is whether to let the local traffic department mine the data and Jail the lot of you. Oh and to admit that they collect the data so that the phone conversation can be played in front of the judge before sentencing.

How naive can you people get? its been bloody obvious for years that "Terrorists" have been caught before they did any harm using their communications. Doing the conventional police work to get a conviction must be a right pain in the proverbial. No wonder every police force on the planet desperately wants this data to be allowed in court.

Remember folks, you've got nothing to feat if you've got nothing to hide from data mining applications. They only have the last ten years worth anyway so whats the problem?

OK I might be exaggerating a bit. but by how much?

Re:I should be shocked and appalled... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43637567)

I chuckle at the comments that this is false. How could anyone possibly KNOW this to be false? Even if you worked at a communications corporation, how could you be CERTAIN that the government didn't have a feed of your data? Basically, this is nothing that hasn't been reported before, but this time it's from an agent. I remember back MANY years ago when phone companies started scanning all phone conversations for keywords. (or was it the gov't scanning for those, I don't recall.) Nothing new here, move along.

Just how much storage capacity would one require? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43637387)

Someone correct me. It just doesn't seem feasible.

You're a moron. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43637437)

I'm happy to correct you. Where it says "comment subject" you should put the subject, not the first sentence of your post.

Good point (1)

JustOK (667959) | about a year ago | (#43637573)

see subject

Asshole (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43637659)

You're an asshole. How's that? Just how fucking redundant did you want me to be? Were you rejected from that English teaching job you so desperately got off to, so in the midst of your basement you've decided to become a troll? A troll with no life and no point with any validity. I'm sorry to break it to you - oh fuck it, I'll just be blunt - I'm the intelligent one and you're not. It's that simple. You're a pretender. The real deal knows that what matters most about language is what is conveyed, not how.

Anyone else just needs to off themselves for the good of humanity. Buy a gun and take a bite, it's the point and click solution to all of life's problems.

Re:Just how much storage capacity would one requir (2)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | about a year ago | (#43637547)

Pshaw. I've got 26 fault-tolerant terabytes just for my media. Every piece of hardware is available from regular vendors like newegg, amazon, microcenter, etc. It fits in a mid-tower case with room to spare and the capacity could be doubled by switching to 4tb drives.

Google was expected to pass an exabyte of data years ago. Amazon's somewhere around that range with their cloud services. Facebook claims a petabyte of duckface pics and videos. And those are companies that are designed to be making a profit. Government agencies don't have to worry about things like profit.

The question isn't whether it's feasible to store that much data but whether the government is capable of managing the creation of such a data center. They don't have a great record when it comes to IT projects. At least not public-facing ones.

Re:Just how much storage capacity would one requir (4, Interesting)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43637667)

They do have good off line secret installations. Where security is really important. I went to Ft Huachuca for computer security training and they did a fairly decent job for low level IT staff there. The instructors and some of the other people at that base genuinely knew what they were doing.

DoD care a lot less about every day logistics systems for barracks assignments then they do about keeping under wraps their mission planning or god knows what else, I couldn't get anything out of anyone that mattered.

I'm no longer serving. But you can rest assured there are some in the service that are good at what they do.

Seems unlikely (3, Interesting)

asmkm22 (1902712) | about a year ago | (#43637391)

I'm sure what he's saying is true, in a very broad sense. Cell phone conversations, texts, and major/popular version of things like video chat (skype), IM (yahoo messenger), and general social media (facebook, twitter, etc).

This guy seems to be implying that the government has some kind of man-in-middle technology that intercepts and records *all* traffic, which simply isn't true. Unfortunately, either he or the news agency is trying to paint the whole thing as just that.

Re:Seems unlikely (2)

amiga3D (567632) | about a year ago | (#43637487)

I don't doubt it at all. Maybe they can't get every little scrap but you can bet that anything they can get they will get. I wouldn't doubt that they have a lot more capability for this than you think either. I remember what was state of the art 30 years ago in the commercial world and it's incredible the changes and I'm more than confident that intelligence gathering has made at least as many leaps and bounds.

Re:Seems unlikely (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about a year ago | (#43637601)

Well we are all geeks here. shouldnt we be able to telll where out data is routed? a tracert or a ping will give you all the nodes that you touch from your machine to the end node. Figuring out who is behind each node should be fairly easy these days no? If the data goes from user a - user b just look at the path it took. Now I am not a network expert but I did get my start in networking years ago and I am sure things have changed a lot in that time. but some simple snooping tools should be more than enough to trace your own communications.

Re: Seems unlikely (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43637789)

Nope, traceroute and ping work at the IP layer and won't provide any insight into the network layer. Something as simple as a virtual circuit would be undetectable (save for the latency).

Re:Seems unlikely (5, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#43637607)

This guy seems to be implying that the government has some kind of man-in-middle technology that intercepts and records *all* traffic, which simply isn't true.

The majority of the internet goes over telecom links. The few parts of it that don't, almost always have at least one hop that transits one of the major carriers networks. They don't have to monitor "all" traffic. They just have to monitor one of the hops in the chain.

All IP traffic can be reduced to a stream. TCP/IP has some extra error-correction options to keep it all in order, but a stream is a stream nonetheless. And when you start looking at very large data sets, you're going to quickly discover that the majority of it is just a copy of another set of data.

People here seem to think that monitoring all network traffic is unrealistic because of the storage considerations, but they don't have to store every byte; Just the unique bytes. If you download the CNN homepage, the storage application doesn't need to hold onto that entire transaction; It can just record the headers and timestamp, and then reference the same stream that a few hundred thousand other people also downloaded.

Most of the internet's traffic isn't encrypted, and so the amount of entropy on it is low, despite the very high bandwidth. This statistical fact paired with shannon's laws, which in turn are based on the laws of thermodynamics, provide the basis of a practical surveillance solution.

When you add in intelligent filtering, the amount of data to be stored drops even more. You probably don't need to worry about terrorists communicating via Netflix for example; And that makes up a significant chunk of internet traffic (look it up; it's a surprise).

The other thing about intelligence assets is that they all have a 'use by' date. The more time goes by, the less valuable the data becomes. Eventually, you reach a point of diminishing returns; That is the point at which you can safely delete the data. It doesn't matter whether it contained terrorist communications or the next 9/11 or not... if you haven't found it by the cutoff time, it's worthless.

Combine these attributes and what this man is saying is, in fact, achievable. Now... processing that data and turning into useful, timely, and accurate intelligence... that, people, is a whole 'nother can of worms. And realistically, where the bulk of the resources is going to be. Storage is a non-starter. Analysis is the bitch of it.

Re:Seems unlikely (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43637741)

This probably works for some teenager in Dodecastan with a netbook off the black market talking to their buddies on a forum. But I doubt the Chinese president or CEO of a billion dollar company has to worry about being traced. They will take diligent steps to ensure that nothing critical is stored in an accessible location. They will also most likely use better then ROT13 and not store any kind of passwords. They might even bother to destroy any hardware they use to communicate anything sensitive every so often.

So this data set is essentially only useful for going after "mid range" bad guys. Or people without real serious dedicated intent. It's a public TV threat directed at wannabe Boston Bombers.

Impossible. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43637397)

I have done digital communication that never entered the internet. This includes LANs, corporate networks, the USB wire on my desk, the IPC pipe between 2 applications, etc. I've even send the old finger binary number 4 to someone optically. If they could record all these things, there would have to be a secret very high bandwidth network in-place connecting every digital device, which seems impractical, or even impossible.

Now, if you mean all traffic over the internet-backbone in the United States, sure, they could do that. Time for encryption everyone. At least Google likes to pipe their traffic though the corporate network around the internet backbone, so that needs a different approach to log.

Learned how to encrypt yet? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43637399)

The plaintext era is over.

Please! (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43637409)

Either this is true and so secret even most of law enforcement doesn't have access or it simply isn't true. Having run a large enough telecom operation to deal with CALEA I can say for sure that law enforcement very much needed our help to do anything with our customers' communications. Not only did they need to come to us with proper warrants in the first place, but they barely had enough technology sense to be able to do anything with it. Anything more complicated than taps and CDRs never even came up.

Citizen reply. (4, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#43637413)

Clemente: 'No, welcome to America. All of that stuff is being captured as we speak whether we know it or like it or not.' 'All of that stuff' â" meaning every telephone conversation Americans have with one another on U.S. soil, with or without a search warrant â" 'is being captured as we speak.' 'No digital communication is secure,' by which he means not that any communication is susceptible to government interception as it happens (although that is true), but far beyond that: all digital communications â" meaning telephone calls, emails, online chats and the like â" are automatically recorded and stored and accessible to the government after the fact. To describe that is to define what a ubiquitous, limitless Surveillance State is."

Dear US official;

All of my communications are sent via encrypted proxy, and set to stream constantly. The proxy dumps into Tor and a half-dozen other networks. I originally did this for shits and giggles, to see how hard it would be. I will admit the latency is a bit higher than doing it locally, but it is very usable in spite of this. I also signed up for the Tor Cloud project and run an EC2 micro-instance to help others do the same.

Originally, I just did this as an experiment, but after reading things like what you're saying and realizing that we've become a surveillance state on par with Iran, China, and North Korea (where did they get their filtering and monitoring hardware from again? Oh right: We gave it to them), I decided to keep it.

I don't do anything special with my super duper encrypted "all the things" setup. I wish I could say I was some elite ninja hacker or something, but all I really do is browse internet forum sites and read the BBC news, and you know, download a few TV shows here and there. I'm one of those people that doesn't have anything to hide per-se, but when I live under the tyranny of a government that has turned their citizens into the enemy -- the attitude that we're all criminals or potential criminals, and must be monitored pre-emptively, I feel like it's my duty to frustrate the hell out of people like you.

So I have been helping friends, family, and strangers, set their computers up the same way. Yeah, I know, some of them will probably use their newfound freedom and anonymity for evil, but frankly, even a terrorist attack a week and all the rantings in the world from you (that may even be justified) about how criminals can use this technology for their own nefarious purposes, doesn't deter me.

You crossed a line; Morally, ethically, constitutionally. By criminalizing the average citizen, you have become a bigger danger than all the terrorists, all the "real" criminals. You are corrupt, dangerous, and seek to undermine our democratic way of life. You hide in the shadows and see conspiracies everywhere, and are convinced of your own righteous cause. You are as dangerous as a religious fundamentalist, because just like their dogmas, yours demands absolute purity. There will always be more justifications to invade the privacy of others.

So I will continue to teach anyone who wants to, how to fight back against your tyranny. You're a threat to the way of life of not just myself, but my peers. You're a danger to all Americans -- you view us as the enemy. Your own people.

You've lost your way.

Re:Citizen reply. (1)

mozumder (178398) | about a year ago | (#43637439)

Dear Citizen,

Sucks to be you..

-gub

ps. (3, Insightful)

mozumder (178398) | about a year ago | (#43637473)

Might makes right.

Protip: If you want actual freedom, you need to gain power. And to gain power, you need to align yourself with the powerful.

The question for you is: Which members of our society are more powerful: the socialist statist that aligns themselves with government? or the gun-owning libertarian that doesn't want to be tread on?

Figuring out who is power, and subsequently aligning yourself with that power, is going to be key to your success. Feel free to argue against that.

Re:ps. (4, Interesting)

epyT-R (613989) | about a year ago | (#43637553)

unless of course the freedoms that you want are verboten by that power..

Re:Citizen reply. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43637527)

All of my communications are sent via encrypted proxy, and set to stream constantly. The proxy dumps into Tor and a half-dozen other networks.

Any how to or suggested readings on how to get started?

Re:Citizen reply. (1, Insightful)

BitZtream (692029) | about a year ago | (#43637537)

I really wish people like you could live in an actual shitty country.

Not that America is perfect, but you have no fucking idea what tyranny is.

Re:Citizen reply. (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#43637647)

Not that America is perfect, but you have no fucking idea what tyranny is.

tyr-an-ny, n.: (source: dictionary.com)

1. arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power; despotic abuse of authority.

"All of that stuff is being captured as we speak whether we know it or like it or not."

2. oppressive or unjustly severe government on the part of any ruler.

"meaning every telephone conversation Americans have with one another on U.S. soil, with or without a search warrant -- 'is being captured as we speak.'"

3.undue severity or harshness.

"'No, welcome to America."

Would you care to revise your statement, Mr. Internet Pundit?

Re:Citizen reply. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43637779)

I wish people like you would move to one of those shitty countries.

The rest of us would like to stay here and protect our constitution so the U.S. doesn't turn into one of those shitty countries. Eternal vigilance.

Re:Citizen reply. (2)

Technician (215283) | about a year ago | (#43637543)

Might want to watch this Defcon presentation. Trusting a random tor node is a bad idea.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLt_uqSCEUA [youtube.com]

Re:Citizen reply. (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#43637629)

Might want to watch this Defcon presentation. Trusting a random tor node is a bad idea.

True enough, but who said I use just Tor? I said I use multiple proxies... Tor is just one such network available.

That may not be enough. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43637613)

How you use language, what you say, etc. can be used to identify you and/or the region you come from. You may use some phrase only common to a smaller region than you might imagine. You might mention the details to a lake that isn't as ordinary as you would guess. These are but examples.

I know I for one, a few seemingly ordinary details of a nearby park and my age would likely be enough to find me. Can you guess one feature of that park that I have, I promise you, mistakenly given above? How much more do I need to say to give it all away?

If not you, how many of your friends or others you've helped will say too much? About themselves or you. Have you told your friends and others that their phones are geotagging their photos?

As for the government reading this, my only question to them is this, "Where's my stinking refund!?"

Re:Citizen reply. (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about a year ago | (#43637621)

so what do we call this new underground railroad?

Re:Citizen reply. (0)

OhANameWhatName (2688401) | about a year ago | (#43637771)

You are corrupt, dangerous, and seek to undermine our democratic way of life. You hide in the shadows and see conspiracies everywhere, and are convinced of your own righteous cause. You are as dangerous as a religious fundamentalist

And??

You write like you didn't expect this to be reality. The US government is run by religious fundamentalists. Moreoever, they're the kind of religious fundamentalist that incite fear and discord at every turn. Problem is .. they're being driven by their own fear. They're literally afraid of themselves and you're simply a reflection of what they fear so they project their fear onto you.

Being the world's most powerful nation isn't enough. Monitoring all domestic communications won't be enough. These people whom aim to stand above you and control your very ideas and beliefs won't stop until they're 'safe'. Since they really are already as safe as possible, that means that they won't stop until they've managed to overcome their fears. Since they're not learning to overcome their fears, this just isn't going to happen.

If you want a change, make it in yourself. Quit being afraid of the fools and step into your own beliefs, your own reality. Quit encrypting your data, quit pushing your friends and family into fear by trying to encrypt their data. Yes, the government monitors my actions including my internets and phone calls. That has a very minor impact on my life. But I've got nothing to be afraid of so I don't behave like somebody whose afraid .. by monitoring my communications, the government may even have the opportunity to learn from me. Fear is rapidly losing any impact in my life, how about you?

Take the red pill.

And to think they told meg... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43637423)

...I was wasting my life watching The X Files.

WRONG!

Scully alone made it all worth it.

Aaaaaahhhh... Scully...

Re:And to think they told meg... (5, Interesting)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43637467)

Ahhh if only the government would be so kind as to freely back up all the classic usenet celebrity fakes of Gillian Anderson and provide them free of charge on the open internet as a public service. This world would be on the right path indeed.

Checks and balances, anyone? (1)

XiaoMing (1574363) | about a year ago | (#43637427)

This is probably the most telling bit of it:

CLEMENTE: We certainly have ways in national security investigations to find out exactly what was said in that conversation. It's not necessarily something that the FBI is going to want to present in court, but it may help lead the investigation and/or lead to questioning of her. We certainly can find that out.

Basically, this capability exists, can and does get used, BUT the fruits of which aren't directly presented in the courts, because that would divulge too much as to its existence. Instead, it gets used to get the suspect to admit what might otherwise be unattainable through a normal interrogation.

Now the scary part:
This could probably directly provide evidence for not just the Boston Marathon case, but many many other criminal cases in this country right now. For all those other cases though, we risk not convicting a criminal, or worse wrongfully convicting innocent people.

It's kind of sad/scary to think that the FBI effectively has a digital oracle that could provide the information to make many trials look like daytime soap operas.

Re:Checks and balances, anyone? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43637515)

It dosnt get used because it either dosnt exist or it cant be used. 98% of it would never be analysed or even put into context to nbe usefull. Unless of course there is allready a reason to be looking at it.

Too much information is worse than too little it causes paralysis in the decision making due to too many valid what-if and or options and delays trying to cross check and confirm. Too little information you act on what you can reasonably confirm / suspect and hope for the best.

Any mistake short of a nuclear war probally wont come back to haunt as more than a footnote in a 100 years time.

hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43637459)

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utah_Data_Center. This place comes to mind even if possible this place has tons of storage

thats awesome. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43637493)

so someone at nsa proved p = np... or at least how to factor large numbers.

Re: thats awesome. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43637669)

A little while back there was some chatter that there was a break discovered in a commonly used encryption. Could very well be the case.

May we assume (1)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about a year ago | (#43637501)

That in that case classification is done more or less automatic.
Down to the individual, we may assume.

And yet, they are unable to prevent [insert latest bombing or amok event here].
Clearly a government gone anal.

In Roswell NM, of course (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year ago | (#43637517)

Only aliens would have the storage technology.

Timothy stories (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about a year ago | (#43637521)

No one else would post such obvious crap.

It is impossible for the government to record all digital communications because they aren't privy to them. Unless you mean to tell me they have a back door in my open source mail servers which communicate on their own private networks within my organization over physically secure channels.

They don't ever get access to a lot of digital communications so they can not possibly be recording it all.

typical timothy story, so blindly false, yet somehow the moron keeps posting shit.

Re:Timothy stories (2)

chrismcb (983081) | about a year ago | (#43637561)

No one else would post such obvious crap.

eh?
it doesn't matter whether you agree with it, or not. It doesn't matter who posted in on slashdot. The fact remains a former FBI official made this statement, not once, but twice, to CNN. Is it true? who knows, but don't go and blame the messenger.

Re:Timothy stories (4, Insightful)

Proudrooster (580120) | about a year ago | (#43637651)

While the FBI might not be the sharpest tool in the shed they have infinite resources thanks to the national security black budget. Granted if you have a private network that doesn't peer with any of the big backbones like AT&T then your a probably safe. Once your voice/data hops onto a major backbone like AT&T your data has been sold to the US Government. There are even allegation that this system is contributing names to the no-fly list through heuristic language analysis of voice traffic. To see if you networks are safe, use the word "bomb" as often as you can and if you aren't added to the no-fly list, your networks are probably safe :)

I think the real solution to the problem is to start generating massive amounts of meaningless data until the spooks run out of storage.

Security and Privacy are an illusion. Welcome to 1984 about three decades late.

Re:Timothy stories (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43637671)

All probably is used with the meaning of "all non encrypted communication running through the ISPs that forward everything to us". Some extra sensationalism used here and there.

That said, I would rather err on the side of caution and accept that anything non encrypted that leaves the inner network can be caught by them.

Logistically impractical (1, Interesting)

onyxruby (118189) | about a year ago | (#43637581)

I doubt this, not because I believe the goodness of the government as such, but because of the logistical impracticalities it would entail. Think of the sheer amount of storage, electricity, infrastructure, personal, computing resources and so on that you would need in order to perform this feat. The numbers would be boggling and would account for a significant portion of the worldwide sales of all hard drives, tape back ups etc, etc.

You would then have to work with the absolute enormous amount of data in a usable manner which as anyone who has ever worked with very large data sets knows is easier said than done. When you have this much data it's a little more complicated than running a few SQL queries against a given person. The sheer volume of data would make this entirely unusable even if they could pull it altogether.

You would also need personnel from IT types to human resources and so on. This would be one of the largest projects in the country and would have a noticeable impact on unemployment. Physically, where would you put this and get the electricity to run it all? Where would you get all the people with clearances? The logistical realities make this a non-event for domestic communications, it just isn't possible. I'm not even talking about the largest wholesale violation of the Constitution in history if this were true. Sorry, but this doesn't pass the sniff test.

Re:Logistically impractical (5, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#43637707)

Think of the sheer amount of storage, electricity, infrastructure, personal, computing resources and so on that you would need in order to perform this feat. The numbers would be boggling and would account for a significant portion of the worldwide sales of all hard drives, tape back ups etc, etc.

Well, the internet was clocking about 21 exabytes per month in 2010. However, the overwhelming majority of that traffic is redundant; if you remove the redundancy in the data set and then compress it, you're probably looking at less than an exabyte of data over the public internet. You can reduce that further with whitelists; Traffic from Netflix, for example, is probably not going to contain super secret terrorist communications.

So let's say you can cut that down to only record the most relevant 5%. That's about 1 exabyte. How much [storagemojo.com] would that cost? Well, in 2008, they guesstimated this to be about $400 million. A single stealth bomber costs about $2.1 billion [yahoo.com] ; So the yearly storage costs of "the internet" is about 2 stealth bombers. -_-

So at least as far as the data storage is concerned, I think it's well within the government's budget. Now, making that data usable and analysis of it... hooo boy... that's gonna be the bitch of it. But storage? Solved.

Re:Logistically impractical (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43637715)

With good deduplication, they could probably get pretty far. Even then, if they only save who you communicated with and not what you said, in most cases that will be more than enough to get most information.

For example, lets take 4chan, because I know they have stats on their front page. The active content of the whole site is 112 GB at this moment.
Say this is totally fresh content every 12 hours. You will have 1.5 terabytes in a week.
But its 4chan. There is just no way in hell that there are no duplicates. Pretty certain 50% of it will be duplicated. If not more. The more data you have, sooner or later, the less new data you have. By deduplicating, you will not have to store that big a number of things.

Also, having seen some of the Tor talks they had with an NSA agent, its not the first person that used to work for a 3 letter agency that claims this capability.
Certainly its not all easy, but lets remember, we are not talking about ordinary cops here, and even those can be pretty bright at times. But the NSA is employing lots of very, very bright people.

The best question to ask is, what do they gain by faking they have everything. Not much. If its supposed to be a deterent... we all know its not going to be that effective.

Re:Logistically impractical (5, Insightful)

Proudrooster (580120) | about a year ago | (#43637749)

Seriously, you mean a data center like this can't handle the traffic?

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/03/ff_nsadatacenter/ [wired.com]

and the 5 million people (as of 2011) with security clearances aren't enough?

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/07/security-clearances-increasing/ [wired.com]

and the NSA recruiting at Defcon and math colleges all around the country isn't happening?

http://www.federalnewsradio.com/411/2890348/NSA-hiring-reforms-serve-as-model-for-government [federalnewsradio.com]

These guys have cash and are all of their activities are shielded under FISA and the National Security Act and State Secrets Privilege.

http://www.aclu.org/national-security/fix-fisa-end-warrantless-wiretapping [aclu.org]

It's happening, it is a reality, and it is more than possible. Even with an inside whistle blower, the courts will not limit the power of the government to spy on us.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Room_641A [wikipedia.org]

The only thing we really have going for us is the Catch-22 on the use of the data. If it is every used in a trial, chain of custody and 4th amendment issues likethe exclusionary rule will suppress the evidence since it was obtained without a warrant. The only thing that stands in the way of the NSA and fully implementing 1984 is the 4th amendment.

Everytime I hear shit like this... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43637599)

...I think maybe the militia nutjobs are the most sane of the citizens...

but but but (4, Interesting)

coffee-breaks (2867847) | about a year ago | (#43637615)

and here I thought USA was the country of "freedom and democracy" and was so much better than China??? Was I lied to then????

Re:but but but (2)

coffee-breaks (2867847) | about a year ago | (#43637645)

wow I got a score -1 within seconds eh??? pretty quick to put me down eh?

On this momentus day... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43637641)

I realized Slashdot:News for Nerds is truly dead. I also don't like this 'News for shills and idiots' that is has become. Time to pull the plug, you are no longer relevant and all the blindered cockroaches can scurry off into the night.

This is a response to the responses for this article by the way. Sad that I feel I have to spell it out...I don't know what happened here.

captcha = echelon
I shit you not. http://i.imgur.com/4QD6KOG.png

Other recent evidence of this: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43637657)

Cryptome got the Aaron Swartz PACER file: http://cryptome.org/2013/05/fbi-swartz-pacer.pdf

On Page 181 you can see they intercepted his home phone without a warrant but weren't able to obtain the content of his other phone calls because his number wasn't in some classified system.

Sounds like conspiracy theory crap to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43637661)

Apple has built multiple massive data centers throughout the country to support their iCloud service, at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars, and using many gigawatts of electricity. Compared to ALL of the digital traffic in the US in a single day, iCloud is but a drop in the bucket. The resources required to store all of that data would be ridiculously ENORMOUS, especially when you consider that you'll also need redundant data storage and backups. It would require dozens of facilities running 24/7, each with it's own direct "backbone" connection, huge amounts of power and cooling capacity, backup generators and cost billions of dollars every single year. You would need dozens of terabytes of storage to store just one day's worth of data. The amount of storage required to store just one year's worth of communications would be astronomical.

After all of that, you would need to consider a method of cataloging and indexing all of that data, and a way to search and recall all of it in a reasonable amount of time. Were we in the age of quantum computing, I could see all of this as being possible, but with today's technology it would be a practical impossibility.

Carnivore (1)

Hecatonchires (231908) | about a year ago | (#43637677)

He's talking about Carnivore isn't he?

Not hard to image... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43637693)

We where trying the calculations today could be a little off though:

http://www.deadzones.com/2011/05/how-many-cell-phone-calls-are-made-day.html#.UYZ6K_FAZxQ
according to that 6 billion calls daily

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/01/30/mobile_phone_calls_shorter/
1 minute 40 seconds per call
people talk about 150 words per minute

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080526032554AAB28AF
avg word length 5 characters
words in avg conversation 1.666666 (which is 1 min 40 sec) * 150
100
avg conversation has 250 words * 5 letters
1250 +249 for spaces
that's 1499 bytes per conversation uncompressed and not caring about punctuation and line breaks
so each day it's 8994000000000 bytes of data
1499 * 6000000000
8.18 tb day
using something like kgb compression 2.5/800
0.003125
compression rate 3.2GB
1.14062 TB yearly

This is of course assuming they are converting the speech to text.

Access data (1)

robot5x (1035276) | about a year ago | (#43637701)

So how do I access my data?

I arranged to meet with Lionel this Friday but I can't remember the name of the bar, and now I lost his cell phone number!

Awesome service by the way, thanks FBI!

All of the above? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43637723)

"Is 'Time' a fascinating work of art, a deep sociological experiment — or the longest-running shaggy-dog joke in history?"

Why can it not be all of these?

Its not impossible.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43637733)

Following where pulled from sites via search:
6 billion calls daily @ 1 minute 40 seconds per call
people talk about 150 words per minute, avg word length 5 characters
words in avg conversation 1.666666 (which is 1 min 40 sec) * 150
100
avg conversation has 250 words * 5 letters
1250 +249 for spaces
that's 1499 bytes per conversation uncompressed and not caring about punctuation and line breaks

so each day it's 8994000000000 bytes of data
1499 * 6000000000

8.18 tb day

using something like kgb compression 2.5/800 based off the office example
0.003125
compression rate 3.2GB

1.14062 TB yearly

Assuming they are converting voice to text.

lost email? (5, Funny)

hendrikboom (1001110) | about a year ago | (#43637739)

Could I ask them to restore that email I accidentally deleted last week?

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>