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US Mining Data Directly From 9 Silicon Valley Companies

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the open-book dept.

Privacy 404

Rick Zeman writes "Hot on the heels of Verizon's massive data dump to NSA comes news of 'PRISM' where The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio, video, photographs, e-mails, documents and connection logs that enable analysts to track a person's movements and contacts over time. This program, established in 2007, includes major companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook...and more."

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land of the free... (5, Insightful)

versiondub (694793) | about a year ago | (#43931411)

is anyone really that surprised by this, though?

Re: land of the free... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43931419)

Nope

Re:land of the free... (4, Interesting)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#43931507)

There are some surprising aspects of it.

An internal presentation on the Silicon Valley operation, intended for senior analysts in the NSA’s Signals Intelligence Directorate, described the new tool as the most prolific contributor to the President’s Daily Brief, which cited PRISM data in 1,477 articles last year.

The PRISM program is not a dragnet, exactly. From inside a company’s data stream the NSA is capable of pulling out anything it likes, but under current rules the agency does not try to collect it all.

Analysts who use the system from a Web portal at Fort Meade key in “selectors,” or search terms, that are designed to produce at least 51 percent confidence in a target’s “foreignness.” That is not a very stringent test. Training materials obtained by the Post instruct new analysts to submit accidentally collected U.S. content for a quarterly report, “but it’s nothing to worry about.”

Re:land of the free... (4, Insightful)

buswolley (591500) | about a year ago | (#43931727)

I have been pretty sure for a while now that a good portion of cookie based data collection is sold as a product to the US government, but also other governments. Hell, some companies may just be fronts for surveillance activities.

Re:land of the free... (5, Insightful)

buswolley (591500) | about a year ago | (#43931737)

BTW, its not about being surprised. Its about taking the moment of outrage and national attention and trying to effect change.

Re:land of the free... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43931903)

typically results in shortsighted decision but occasionally otherwise.

Re:land of the free... (3, Funny)

Dahamma (304068) | about a year ago | (#43931785)

a good portion of cookie based data collection is sold as a product to the US government

Oh great, now they know about my secret snacking habits?

Re:land of the free... (4, Insightful)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#43931807)

Hell, some companies may just be fronts for surveillance activities.

Oh, that is a given.

China also has more than 3,000 front companies in the U.S. “for the sole purpose of acquiring ... technology [bloomberg.com]

It is probably not fair for the Chinese to get all the action.

Re:land of the free... (4, Insightful)

justthinkit (954982) | about a year ago | (#43931943)

Then this would be the real reason why "Do not track" is being universally ignored.

Re:land of the free... (3, Insightful)

White Flame (1074973) | about a year ago | (#43931787)

That's not all that surprising. The scope and size of data is simply too overwhelming even for the NSA, if they were to collect absolutely everything. These technical limitations are the only thing keeping some semblance of practical privacy... for now.

Re:land of the free... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43931509)

is anyone really that surprised by this, though?

Agreed,

Anyone who didn't see this coming 12 years ago had their head in the sand or hasn't read their history.

Re:land of the free... (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#43931569)

No, we haven't been surprised for a very long time. You can stop asking that question now

Re:land of the free... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43931639)

But... but *sniffel* Google wouldn't do evil! This must be an evil Republican plot to smear Google and Obama!

Re:land of the free... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43931723)

Excuse me Benedict Arnold, do you mind if we go back to being holier than thou about governments in Russia, China....trampling on human rights...if you don't mind?

The EU is going to be PISSED. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43931417)

Yep, they will be pissed at this news. (no not pissed in the drunk sense, idiot.)

Money quote... (5, Interesting)

Rick Zeman (15628) | about a year ago | (#43931425)

....from last paragraph:

Firsthand experience with these systems, and horror at their capabilities, is what drove a career intelligence officer to provide PowerPoint slides about PRISM and supporting materials to The Washington Post in order to expose what he believes to be a gross intrusion on privacy. “They quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type,” the officer said.

Re:Money quote... (0)

SolarCanine (892620) | about a year ago | (#43931453)

“They quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type,” the officer said.

I'm pretty sure I'd notice a keylogger on my network sending every keystroke out to elsewhere... As for the leap from idea to typing, that technology is the sole purview of the NSA it seems...

Re:Money quote... (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#43931505)

Your keystrokes don't go "elsewhere". It's just as easy to catch them at the other end, or in the middle, as the case may be.

Re:Money quote... (-1, Flamebait)

SolarCanine (892620) | about a year ago | (#43931567)

If they're watching an idea form as I type, they'd better damned well be getting it keystroke by keystroke. And he did say "quite literally"...

Re:Money quote... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43931697)

Well, they can do it if they are interested in you, for example it has been showen that you can reliably find the keys pressed by measuring peaks on the electric net from outside the house.

That said, you sound kinda as if a guy just had an accident and lost the ability to use his legs, yet you argue that he could move them with his hands, thus having not really lost the ability to use them. THATS NOT THE FUCKING POINT. The point here is they can and are watching everything. If they aren't watching a certain thing its probably because they either forgot about it or were too busy with watching all the more important stuff.

They got tons of stuff on you, pretty much everything, and sure, maybe they didn't get every single keystroke, but big fucking whoop, they have nearly everything.

Re:Money quote... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43931871)

Never heard of autocomplete?

"active" pages, not local keylogging (4, Informative)

Vainglorious Coward (267452) | about a year ago | (#43931527)

I'm pretty sure I'd notice a keylogger on my network sending every keystroke out to elsewhere

Do you believe that, for example, google search prediction-as-you-type is using a keylogger? It is keylogging, it's just that it's server-side.

Re:Money quote... (3, Interesting)

epyT-R (613989) | about a year ago | (#43931529)

not if the text box you're typing into is running an inserted javascript routine that tracks keystrokes..

Re:Money quote... (4, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#43931533)

“They quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type,” the officer said.

I'm pretty sure I'd notice a keylogger on my network sending every keystroke out to elsewhere...

As for the leap from idea to typing, that technology is the sole purview of the NSA it seems...

Oh, so you've turned off auto-complete predictions in Chrome's address bar, and never use any cloud based apps like Google Docs that send keystrokes to the cloud? Though you might not notice a good keylogger that could queue up data and send it periodically as innocent looking DNS queires, ajax queries, etc.

Regardless, one needn't watch keystrokes to watch ideas form as you type - that statement is just as true if they watch you type facebook posts, slashdot comments, IM's, etc in real time.

Re:Money quote... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43931683)

They can't quite watch ideas as you type, but the people smart about keylogging temporarily store the logs on your hard drive and then send them out as a compressed and encrypted bulk transfer when you're doing something that requires more bandwidth (Youtube, Netflix, Dropbox sync, music etc.). Even most system admins and security professionals won't notice a couple of extra megs being transferred this way.

Re:Money quote... (1)

buswolley (591500) | about a year ago | (#43931775)

Or as part of an antivirus update. Hell antivirus programs probably spy quite a bit.

Re:Money quote... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43931811)

Being idiotically literal about the comment doesn't make you look smart, you know.

Re:Money quote... (0)

SolarCanine (892620) | about a year ago | (#43931837)

That's kind of the point of pointing out the use of the phrase "quite literally" in the first place, you know.

Re:Money quote... (3)

hutsell (1228828) | about a year ago | (#43931919)

....from last paragraph:

Firsthand experience with these systems, and horror at their capabilities, is what drove a career intelligence officer to provide PowerPoint slides about PRISM and supporting materials to The Washington Post in order to expose what he believes to be a gross intrusion on privacy. “They quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type,” the officer said.

Temporarily putting aside any discussion about cynicism or idealism and how one feels about the effectiveness of petitions [aclu.org] , if you decide to sign into the preceding petition (and unconcerned about the negative aspects of possibly being added to a "watch list") you'll be given the ability to (/.ing it, in a sense) by resubmitting a formatted response in 3 different ways.

Via Twitter:

Using the Patriot Act, the govt has been secretly tracking the calls of every #Verizon Business customer.Act now: http://bit.ly/13IoqhD [bit.ly] #NSA

Facebook:

Using the Patriot Act, the government has been secretly tracking the calls of millions of Americans. Yes, really. Act now.

and your Email:

A leaked court document obtained by The Guardian, and since reported on by numerous news outlets, has exposed the government spying on Americans. Using the Patriot Act, the U.S. government has been secretly tracking the calls of every Verizon Business Network Services customer – whom they talked to, from where, and for how long – for the past 41 days.

It's time to get angry. Be part of a strong public outcry against this program by signing the petition immediately and letting your friends know what's happening in this country. https://www.aclu.org/secure/stop-massive-spying-program?Ms=taf_acluaction_NSA_130606 [aclu.org]

I'm Okay With It (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43931443)

The Internet needs to be policed. There are bad men and evildoers actively plotting to do us harm. These nefarious activities now are increasingly being planned and coordinated using the Internet. I don't think this is so bad that the authorities are mining and searching and seeking out these dastardly terrorists.

My life and my family's lives are more important than whatever privacy I had on these sites. I know Apple, Google, Facebook have the data anyway, so I see know harm on giving this up so that I feel safer. Just my two cents, I know its not the majority viewpoint in this current uproar.

Re:I'm Okay With It (5, Insightful)

SolarCanine (892620) | about a year ago | (#43931481)

My life and my family's lives are more important than whatever privacy I had on these sites.

...says the anonymous coward? Am I missing some Soviet Russia joke here?

Re:I'm Okay With It (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43931649)

That AC is severely lacking in foresight, this AC prefers the words of General John Stark that so well expressed the view of many: "Live free or die: Death is not the worst of evils."

Re:I'm Okay With It (4, Funny)

dyfet (154716) | about a year ago | (#43931779)

My life and my family's lives are more important than whatever privacy I had on these sites.

...says the anonymous coward? Am I missing some Soviet Russia joke here?

Just to please you... In NSA America social networks join you!

Re:I'm Okay With It (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43931491)

To be honest your life and your family's life are probably not important at all. There are plenty of drones. You are replaceable. You are not unique.

Re:I'm Okay With It (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#43931557)

You are replaceable. You are not unique.

You are a fluke of the universe. You have no right to be here.....

Re:I'm Okay With It (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43931635)

You are replaceable. You are not unique.

You are a fluke of the universe. You have no right to be here.....

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore STFU. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a nightmare broken sham of a world. Strive to be happy. But don't expect that to work.

Re:I'm Okay With It (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43931543)

Please let me be the first to say, GO FUCK YOURSELF, PUSSY!

Re:I'm Okay With It (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43931553)

Maybe we British colonists should have just paid the tea tax then.

Re:I'm Okay With It (5, Insightful)

brucek2 (208676) | about a year ago | (#43931577)

Its a good thing your ancestors had a little more guts and a lot more principal. They were willing to die, if necessary, first to free America from being ruled by Kings and then to fight other countries who wished to force their ideologies onto the rest of the world.

Meanwhile, all that most of us from this generation had to do was not screw it up. Which it looks like we are. Hopefully these disclosures will remind everyone that the reason we have a national security apparatus is to protect our liberty.

Re:I'm Okay With It (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43931899)

That said, most of "this generation" isn't in places of power yet. The people in power are mostly 50-70 years old. They got theirs, and they're screwing it up on the way out.

Re:I'm Okay With It (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43931615)

I would like to install a webcam in your house then so we can all watch what you do 24/7.

Along with your social security number, bank account numbers, and credit card numbers and address.

Oh, what's that? You don't want that? That's what privacy is. Keeping info from going where you don't want.

http://pastebin.com/irj4Fyd5 [pastebin.com]

You went anon for a good reason, and if you want to know why read that.

Re:I'm Okay With It (4, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#43931647)

The Internet needs to be policed. There are bad men and evildoers actively plotting to do us harm. These nefarious activities now are increasingly being planned and coordinated using the Internet. I don't think this is so bad that the authorities are mining and searching and seeking out these dastardly terrorists.

Are you sure you're ok with the US Government scrutinizing your private life?

Right now there are so many laws and regulations in the USA that not even the US Government can tell you how many there are (criminal law alone is 23,000 pages across 50 volumes, and that doesn't include thousands of federal regulations that you're expected to abide by). Every day you probably break dozens of laws without knowing it.

How will you feel if the government starts mining your data and issuing violations automatically: "Citizen: on June 3, 2013 you told your aunt that you fixed your backyard fence. We found no record of a proper building permit, therefore you must tear down your fence and build it again" "Citizen: On September 9, 2013 your daughter said she planted a dandelion in front of your house. That plant has been determined to be a noxious weed, we will be sending a drone to eradicate your front yard". "Citizen: In Jan 10th, 2003 you had lunch with a Tea Party leader. The Tea Party has been determined to be a terrorist organization. Come quietly and we'll go easy on your family".

Even if you trust the current administration with the data, do you trust all future administrations since the data will likely be retained beyond your lifetime? How would you feel if they selling profiles about yourself to private corporations? (first to the credit rating agencies, then maybe to insurance companies, then to anyone that wants to buy a profile on you).

My life and my family's lives are more important than whatever privacy I had on these sites. I know Apple, Google, Facebook have the data anyway, so I see know harm on giving this up so that I feel safer. Just my two cents, I know its not the majority viewpoint in this current uproar.

Why do you assume that you have to give up all privacy to ensure the safety of your family? Do you think terrorism is something new that can only be stopped by scrutinizing the personal lives of everyone?

If you're so open with your privacy, why post as Anonymous Coward? Why not post your Facebook Profile, LinkedIn Profile, Twitter name, etc here for us all to see? What are you trying to hide?

Re:I'm Okay With It (4, Insightful)

buswolley (591500) | about a year ago | (#43931809)

There are so many laws, one breaks one or two everyday without realization. With so many laws there can be no equality before the law, because law enforcement can arbitrarily select whether it will enforce a law or not on whomever it pleases.

Re:I'm Okay With It (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43931825)

AC mission accomplished, since you just wasted several minutes replying to an obvious troll...

Re:I'm Okay With It (0)

Pulzar (81031) | about a year ago | (#43931877)

Every day you probably break dozens of laws without knowing it.

I call BS on that. Give us some examples of dozens of laws that a normal person might break every day.

Re:I'm Okay With It (4, Insightful)

White Flame (1074973) | about a year ago | (#43931853)

Forget the "bad guys" for a second. Your entire life and those of your family and friends is being monitored in detail regarding daily activities to attempt to incriminate you for being a child pornographer or terrorist. Any little off-color humor, flippant statements, random private discussions, outbursts, travel plans, purchasing decisions, etc, all can contribute to increasing that terrorist/child porn indicator for your personal life, regardless of your actual innocence, with no human judgment involved.

This is complete insanity, and it is the implicit condemnation of every single US citizen as being a terrorism suspect. You are complicit in subjecting yourself as a suspected terrorist, instead of demanding to live your life as a regular, upstanding citizen with no charges held against you.

I know Apple, Google, Facebook have the data anyway, so I see know harm on giving this up so that I feel safer.

Sure, you "feel" safer. But you are not safer. You are a suspect now, and are more at risk of having your life destroyed by the authorities, regardless of innocence, than before.

Re:I'm Okay With It (1, Flamebait)

shiftless (410350) | about a year ago | (#43931901)

My life and my family's lives are more important than whatever privacy I had on these sites.

I hope you and your family starve in the streets. You fucking WORM.

MODS : -1, Funny please (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43931947)

Mods : can we arrange a -1, Funny on the parent. Thx

Hum... (1)

komus59 (2943873) | about a year ago | (#43931445)

i'm not very surprised !

and tap into the biggest tech company.... Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43931455)

Right? Who's with me.... *crickets*

Ya don't call them (1)

houbou (1097327) | about a year ago | (#43931465)

Big Brother for nothing.

Tinfoil hat brigade (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43931469)

Tinfoil hat brigade says "we did tell you so"

Bye bye Dropbox? (4, Insightful)

scottbomb (1290580) | about a year ago | (#43931479)

From TFA:

Dropbox, the cloud storage and synchronization service, is described as “coming soon.”

I'm very dependent on Dropbox but I just might have to cancel it. As I type this, I'm already cancelling GoogleDrive, and MS SkyDrive.

Re:Bye bye Dropbox? (1)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | about a year ago | (#43931573)

I've heard good things about SpiderOak [arstechnica.com] . Can't say that I've ever used it myself, though.

Re:Bye bye Dropbox? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43931631)

Just remember, there's some pesky things around using the web interface - as soon as you do, admins at their end could technically decrypt your content. But you trust them too right?

FLAG: Suspicious Activity (4, Funny)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | about a year ago | (#43931597)

tag: "bomb" in user name.

tag: threatening antisocial activities.

ELEVATE WATCH STATUS

Re:Bye bye Dropbox? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43931863)

Anything valuable on Dropbox (or any server you don't own) ought to be encrypted. I'm not saying spying is okay, mind you, but even if the NSA weren't poking around in your files, someone else might be.

Any chance this will cause real outrage? (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#43931493)

Is there any chance that this and the Verizon metadata will cause real outrage, by which I mean by enough citizens to have some political effect? I honestly don't know, but at least some part of me hopes it will. Please discuss. I know much of the "discussion" will be the usual rants, but some folks might add real thought or insight.

Re:Any chance this will cause real outrage? (1)

Rick Zeman (15628) | about a year ago | (#43931583)

Is there any chance that this and the Verizon metadata will cause real outrage, by which I mean by enough citizens to have some political effect?

No. Well, yes, it'll cause outrage, but to no avail. While these were both started by Bush, they're perpetuated and strengthened under 0bama ("meet the new boss...same as the old boss."). This is Yet Another Argument for a third political party, one that's not (yet) owned by the special interests and the other maintainers of the status quo.

Re:Any chance this will cause real outrage? (4, Insightful)

MrEricSir (398214) | about a year ago | (#43931629)

Is there any chance that this and the Verizon metadata will cause real outrage, by which I mean by enough citizens to have some political effect?

If you remember aaaalll the way back to 2005, a whistleblower at AT&T in San Francisco made public the NSA's secret wiretapping program. Despite ongoing lawsuits brought on by the EFF, it doesn't seem like the majority of the public really cared at all.

Seems like most people simply don't give a shit about their rights. The government could announce a plan to cut every man's dick off, and few would complain. Well, some cranky newspaper columnists might complain about the "hippie protesters," but that's it.

Re:Any chance this will cause real outrage? (1)

cosm (1072588) | about a year ago | (#43931681)

No.

Re:Any chance this will cause real outrage? (1)

artor3 (1344997) | about a year ago | (#43931927)

I doubt it. We get so make fake controversies drummed up for political benefit these days (Benghazi comes to mind) that the real ones just fade into the background noise.

The paranoid contingent of Slashdot will insist that this is working as intended -- that there's some grand conspiracy of tens of thousands of people all working, without a single leak, to blind the American populace. The more sane answer is that the two big political parties are so focused on the next election (two years is far too little, imo) that they have no choice but to pounce on every little thing hoping to gain an advantage. Getting elected through good policy doesn't work, because by the time your policy starts to show benefits, someone else is in office to take the credit.

Is I also said on Ars... (5, Informative)

GrahamCox (741991) | about a year ago | (#43931513)

If this doesn't make you angry, upset and outraged, what will? Most of you will have relatives that fought and died to fight the evil of fascism in the Second World War. What was that all about, if you are just allowing the same thing on your own doorstep by stealth? Don't tell me about Godwin's Law, that's just a way to stifle debate. Call out this fascism for what it is. This is beyond the wildest dreams of the STASI or Stalin, because they didn't have the technology. The NSA and the CIA are rogue states within the state, they are beyond control and are not acting for you, or in your best interests. This should upset you. If there are not huge, mass protests on the streets of your state capitols all over the nation in the coming weeks, you should be ashamed of yourselves. The Orwellian state is not inevitable, but it takes actual action to stop this. Cynical tut-tutting will not do. This has to be shut down now, and proper protest is what it's going to take. Over to you.

Re:Is I also said on Ars... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43931601)

Before you get too outraged, keep in mind this is all based on some random PowerPoint presentation. I wouldn't exactly call that confirmation, especially since the companies supposedly involved, many of whom have gone to court repeatedly to protect their users from unreasonable government data access, all deny knowledge of it.

Re:Is I also said on Ars... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43931643)

And what would you expect them to say? IT WAS A SECRET SPYING PROGRAM! Of course, if they were complicit in wholesale spying on Americans domestically, they are going to officially deny knowledge of it. Hell, the PR drones issuing the statements ACTUALLY BELIEVE their respective companies weren't spying on people for the government. You act like their denial actually proves something. If any company actually admitted to it, I'd have more respect for them.

Re:Is I also said on Ars... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43931777)

I'm sure Google, who shares hundreds of employees with the NSA, practically shares several data centers with them, and keeps most of their employees under some of the strictest NDAs known to man is totally innocent! It's not like they have a history of systematically destroying as much privacy as they possibly can...

Most of the higher ups at Google also contributed and campaigned for Obama - surely they would do no wrong!

Re:Is I also said on Ars... (4, Interesting)

GrahamCox (741991) | about a year ago | (#43931887)

So, there are two explanations. Either it's real, in which case, your police state is already here. Or it's fake, and the question is, why would anyone fake it? Is it to test public opinion to see just how far they could push it? If the reaction is "meh" then the NSA et. al. will KNOW that they can implement such a thing and no-one's going to care a damn.

So fake or not, it is vital that people protest en masse about this. That sends the message that such erosion of democracy cannot and will not be tolerated. And if it turns out to be a fake, then you can all breathe a small sign of relief. After all, protesting really doesn't take that much effort.

Re:Is I also said on Ars... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43931953)

No, they deny no access via a 'back door' and that they 'comply with all legal requests', as otherwise indicated in the article the 'requests' for the access detailed is all legal and therefore would also not be considered a 'back door', a 'back door' generally meaning access not normally allowed to anyone but the 'owner', in this case the owner being the internet companies there can be no definition of 'back door' that fits.

In other words the government has given the companies a legal means to have 'plausible deniability'...

Re:Is I also said on Ars... (2)

dmbasso (1052166) | about a year ago | (#43931653)

This is beyond the wildest dreams of the STASI [...]

Indeed. And for those who don't have a clear image of what their lives already look like (in terms of privacy) when they post their private stuff in "the cloud", I highly recommend the movie Das Leben der Anderen [imdb.com] .

Re:Is I also said on Ars... (4, Insightful)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#43931691)

If this doesn't make you angry, upset and outraged, what will? Most of you will have relatives that fought and died to fight the evil of fascism in the Second World War.

An excellent point. It almost struck me as wrapping yourself in the flag at first, but really it's not. "Fought and died for our freedoms" is something I heard often, starting in grade school. I hope it's not complete bull. We could really use some WWII and other vets saying "this is not what I fought for".

The most effective thing I read back when an anti-flag burning amendment was the hot topic, was a letter in a local paper from a WWII vet. He had serious creds - airborne and did 3 major jumps, including D-Day. If he didn't risk his neck for this country I don't know who did. His statement was very simple. "I didn't fight for the flag, I fought for what it stands for".

Re:Is I also said on Ars... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43931709)

The NSA and the CIA are rogue states within the state, they are beyond control and are not acting for you, or in your best interests.

Please provide evidence to support this statement. I'm not saying I disagree, I'm asking to provide some links showing evidence the acquisition of power is not in the best interests in the American public.

Re:Is I also said on Ars... (2)

kheldan (1460303) | about a year ago | (#43931739)

This has to be shut down now, and proper protest is what it's going to take.

Good luck getting enough people to listen. They're mostly fat, lazy sheep now, which is just what the NSA, CIA, and who knows who else wanted them to be: easily controlled, and mollified by bread a circuses.

Re:Is I also said on Ars... (2)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#43931829)

The NSA and the CIA are rogue states within the state

What reason is there to believe that? Absent evidence to the contrary, I believe this is under the control of our elected officials. Put the blame where it belongs.

Re:Is I also said on Ars... (1)

rsmith-mac (639075) | about a year ago | (#43931875)

The NSA and the CIA are rogue states within the state, they are beyond control and are not acting for you, or in your best interests

Respectfully, I disagree.

I enjoy living in the most prosperous, most powerful nation in the world. And despite the fact that we have numerous foreign enemies and more than a few domestics, our security services have managed to keep attacks against the civilian population to an incredibly low number. Not being maimed, killed, or otherwise having my life ruined is absolutely in my best interest.

And despite the fact that the less trustful members of this site consider this Orwellian, the fact remains that I'm free to go anywhere I want, profess my beliefs, and vote for those candidates I believe in. And all the while I'm not being harassed by any kind of government organization, unlike the STASI and other organizations you mention.

So why am I not angry or outraged? Because quite frankly life is good right now. Other than telling TSA to take a hike - and I consider the TSA's mission to be well meaning but misguided - the security services that protect me have been able to improve their ability to protect me without impacting the quality of my life. My interest is to continue living a good life, and our security services are part of what it takes to uphold that. So I'd say they're very much acting in my interests.

Re:Is I also said on Ars... (2, Insightful)

WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) | about a year ago | (#43931911)

Give me some evidence the CIA or the NSA are attempting to control anything about internal American politics, control people's lives, the outcomes of political processes or even innocent individuals lives or even anything like business outcomes. Because without that you have no case that they are a nefarious force in our lives. They are not breaking any law-. If you don't like it, repeal the Patriot Act.

An ability to hypothetically do evil thing X is NOT NOT NOT the same as the desire to. They COULD nuke us! All move to a safe place and then push the button! Are you worried about that too?

Civil society runs on the fact that people do not WANT to do evil things and if you're the NSA or the CIA evil things include any form of taking over the country politically or financially or personally.

People do not want to do the Worst Case Scenario Evil things you are imagining. If that changes, then that's something to deal with. History is FILLED with people who have all kinds of power to do evil that they never avail themselves of. In fact, that's the normative case. I COULD shoot my dog. I don't want to. I COULD rob a bank. All of civilization goes forward on two legs. One is the basic decent impulses of people who are not anti-social but rather civic minded . The other is the law which forms a structural barrier against people who are bad and also guidance and directives for morally ambiguous or ethically complex situations.

Without BOTH of those, we're fucked. People can be individually good, but still create chaos , war and anarchy if there is no law. OTOH even if the law is very clear, if no one WANTS to obey it, we're all fucked.

We have law, we have decent people applying that law. We're not the Reichstag. We're not Nazi Germany or Stalin's Russia . We're not Pol Pots' Cambodia.

To tell you the truth, those were nations who came under the control of MORAL ABSOLUTISTS like yourself who were in a perpetual internal RED ALERT , who saw no shades of gray, admitted of no degrees, could not process ambiguity,and harkened back in each case to a mythical yesteryear which had been corrupted by a cabal of evil men - a situation which required the collective violence of The People against the Oppressors to rectify.

Want to read something? Read Animal Farm.

Re:Is I also said on Ars... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43931973)

I wonder if the last WW2 vet in the Senate dying this week has anything to do with these releases?

Or not (2, Interesting)

ToastedRhino (2015614) | about a year ago | (#43931539)

Apple, Google, and Facebook [allthingsd.com] have all denied involvement in this. While this does not entirely preclude their involvement, these three companies, much like the government, tend to keep their mouths shut when they're caught with their pants down. Their denial, therefore, should carry at least some weight.

Re:Or not (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43931747)

Parse their words. They are denying a very pointed question that wasn't asked. They are all saying, "We don't allow the government direct access to our servers"

This isn't the denial you think it is.

Sounds familiar (4, Insightful)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | about a year ago | (#43931555)

Suddenly, I don't feel like the FBI agent from this slashdot article [slashdot.org] was just exaggerating claims to drum up interest for in a book he wanted to release....

also relevant (4, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#43931565)

Now reports that it's not just Verizon, [wsj.com] AT&T, Sprint, ISPs, and credit card companies are involved as well. Harry Reid said, "Everyone should just calm down and understand this isn't anything that is brand new,'' which I'm sure makes everyone feel better.

Diane Feinstein is ok with the program because she personally gets to approve it, as part of her committee position. Remember Obama voted for this before he ever got elected president, so if any of this surprises anyone, they are naive.

Keep me safe (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43931589)

NSA place a spycam in me bum, for a terrorist might poke there

Slashleft (0, Offtopic)

footNipple (541325) | about a year ago | (#43931593)

I hope most US slashdotters are not too rankled by this reality because this is what they voted for. Bush and Nixon, two presidents modern leftists love to vilify, HAVE NOTHING on the monster currently in office...NOTHING.

Re:Slashleft (4, Insightful)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#43931783)

You are a fool for trying to turn this into a partisan argument. Both parties are happily wiping their asses with the Constitution, and it's hard to find anyone here who doesn't understand that. Your partisan nonsense is exactly the sort of diversion that these politicians find useful.

Re:Slashleft (4, Informative)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#43931843)

I hope most US slashdotters are not too rankled by this reality because this is what they voted for. Bush and Nixon, two presidents modern leftists love to vilify, HAVE NOTHING on the monster currently in office...NOTHING.

Before you try to pin this on the left, take a look at who voted for the Patriot Act:

2001:
        Senate: 98 voted for the act, a single democrat voted against
        House: 357 voted for the act, 66 voted against (62 democrats, 3 republicans)
2006: Patriot act renewal
        Senate: 89 voted for the act, 10 against (9 democrats, 0 republicans)
        House: 280 voted for the act, 138 against (124 democrat, 13 republican)
2011: Patriot act renewal
        Senate: 72 Yes, 23 against (18 democrat, 4 republican)
        House: 275 Yes, 144 no (117 democrat, 27 republican)

If the leftist monster in the whitehouse is solely responsible for this, then why didn't our republican saviors in Congress do anything to stop it, not even back before Obama was even in office?

Sources:

http://educate-yourself.org/cn/patriotact20012006senatevote.shtml [educate-yourself.org]
http://politics.nytimes.com/congress/votes/112/senate/1/84 [nytimes.com]
http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2011/roll036.xml [house.gov]

Free Market Risk (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43931605)

This data poses a significant risk to a free market economy reliant on technology. Business is no longer demarcated from personal life, so spying on people means spying on business.

Would you start a new business if the government had access to all it's communications? Would you trust them not to share that information with others, or exploit it for their own benefit?

Unless there's checks and balances, like the recently neutered STOCK Act, there will be temptation to exploit this data for unimaginable gain.

The usual justification (5, Interesting)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#43931625)

From the presentation cited in FTA:

NSA reporting increasingly relies on PRISM” as its leading source of raw material, accounting for nearly 1 in 7 intelligence reports.

But are those reports anything useful? Data is cheap, especially these days. Finding useful information is as difficult as ever, perhaps more so because of the flood of data. It wasn't a lack of data that kept 9/11 from being prevented, it was the failure of FBI headquarters to listen to their own field offices.

My prediction is that, even though these programs are now being widely reported on, there will be crickets chirping after it's asked what useful information they have obtained. I won't believe it's because that information is sensitive, as government never fails to crow about the wonderful things they've done.

Just to make my position clear, I don't think these programs are justifiable no matter what useful information is collected. However, a failure to collect useful information adds insult to injury, and renders moot any debate about whether this is an acceptable tradeoff.

How to stop it. (1)

xpatch (1188047) | about a year ago | (#43931633)

Don't use these services I guess...

Re:How to stop it. (4, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#43931715)

Don't use these services I guess...

Those are the services you know of.

Will you also stop using your bank, email, IM, your credit card, etc? The government can (and probably is) monitoring everything you do that has an electronic trail.

I've been thinking about going 80s (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43931637)

I've been thinking about returning my lifestyle to the 80s. The only thing I really need the Internet for is finance--it's just too expensive and klutzy to trade stock over the phone. Actually though, by choosing to invest mostly in "widow and orphan" utility stocks, the frequency with which I need to trade or monitor my accounts declines too. I'd have to give up Slashdot; but it's kind of a time killer anyway.

The 80s were actually pretty nice. OK... I'd hate not being able to make phone calls from anywhere, or having to dial in to my answering machine and check messages... The NSA would still have my call records and probably my conversations but... anyway...

The 80s were actually pretty fun... except for the whole threat of a nuclear exchange.

So much for CISPA (1)

Daniel_Stuckey (2647775) | about a year ago | (#43931651)

With PRISM / BLARNEY, this battle is pointless, amirite?

Re:So much for CISPA (1)

NeveRBorN (86123) | about a year ago | (#43931711)

With PRISM / BLARNEY, this battle is pointless, amirite?

My bet is that CISPA was an attempt to legitimize this after the fact.

Someone should write a book (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43931687)

It seems that there used to be a book about a society that watched everything you did and had a Party that kept close tabs on all Citizens. However, I checked with the Ministry of Truth and no such book exists. Perhaps it went down the MemoryHole. It would be a Thoughtcrime to suggest that such a book existed, so forget I said anything.

Silicon Valley? (0)

Gavagai80 (1275204) | about a year ago | (#43931693)

When did Microsoft become a Silicon Valley company? Always thought they were in Washington.

Re:Silicon Valley? (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#43931755)

When did Microsoft become a Silicon Valley company?

The fancy name for it is a metonym [wikipedia.org] . BTW, do you have any thoughts on the US being a surveillance state, or is your concern limited to geography?

Overwhelming (4, Interesting)

RyoShin (610051) | about a year ago | (#43931701)

You know, I (and everyone else) should be outraged at what is not only an invasion of privacy (citizens or not), but also a use of taxpayer money.

And, yet, all I can do is sigh. PRISM, Verizon, NSA, TSA, IRS, HLS, I just find it all overwhelming and disheartening. Sure, I could e-mail/call/mail my congressman or representative, but the cynicism I've gained over this past decade of political bullshit just tells me that my Congressman is already well aware of whatever is happening and is quite happy with the situation, no matter their party. (I see lots of scrutiny from the GOP, but not a single bill from the "we've voted to repeal Obamacare 37 times" House trying to rein in the President's actions or the actions of the various 3-letter organizations.) I'll do research every time I go to vote but I know that I'm in the minority that does so, while the voting population at large will blindly follow that D or R regardless of the candidates' viability, platforms, or intelligence, so it all seems for naught. I encourage my relatives to vote third party, but none of them heed my pleas to actually research who they vote for. (I have no circle of friends in which to do the same.) For all the abuse and impropriety of this, I just can't see a way to affect change.

I'm not even mad about this, though I should be. I'm just depressed. Circus and bread, indeed.

(Actually, if I adjust my tin-foil hat slightly, I wonder if all of this isn't coming out at the same time to be just that: overwhelming, numbing the average American, so that they just give up and don't raise hell about it.)

I don't mind them reading my stuff (2)

kawabago (551139) | about a year ago | (#43931799)

as long as they click on my ads!

We knew it (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about a year ago | (#43931831)

We knew the patriot act made that possible. We knew the US government could not resist using such a possibility.

Now we have the proof. Next question: are there other governments involved?

Not just about the intrernet (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43931881)

This is not just about catching an enemy actor dumb enough to use the internet to communicate--it also forces the more skill-endowed operators to use conventional methods, such as letters in code, secret meetings, and dead drops, all of which have proven, conventional countermeasures. Or they might use encryption in their communications, which stands out like a sore thumb.

Coup D'etat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43931935)

Can we have a coup d'etat yet?

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