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Google Asks Government For More Transparency, Other Groups Push Back Against NSA

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the do-not-go-gentle dept.

Communications 323

Nerval's Lobster writes "In an open letter addressed to U.S. attorney general Eric Holder and FBI director Robert Mueller, Google chief legal officer David Drummond again insisted that reports of his company freely offering user data to the NSA and other agencies were untrue. 'However,' he wrote, 'government nondisclosure obligations regarding the number of FISA national security requests that Google receives, as well as the number of accounts covered by those requests, fuel that speculation.' In light of that, Drummond had a request of the two men: 'We therefore ask you to help make it possible for Google to publish in our Transparency Report aggregate numbers of national security requests, including FISA disclosures—in terms of both the number we receive and their scope.' Apparently Google's numbers would show 'that our compliance with these requests falls far short of the claims being made.' Google, Drummond added, 'has nothing to hide.'" Another open letter was sent to Congress from a variety of internet companies and civil liberties groups (headlined by Mozilla, the EFF, the ACLU, and the FSF), asking them to enact legislation to prohibit the kind of surveillance apparently going on at the NSA and to hold accountable the people who implemented it. (A bipartisan group of senators has just come forth with legislation that would end such surveillance.) In addition to the letter, the ACLU sent a lawsuit as well, directed at President Obama, Eric Holder, the NSA, Verizon and the Dept. of Justice (filing, PDF). They've also asked (PDF) for a release of court records relevant to the scandal. Mozilla has also launched Stopwatching.us, a campaign to "demand a full accounting of the extent to which our online data, communications and interactions are being monitored." Other reactions: Tim Berners-Lee is against it, Australia's Foreign Minister doesn't mind it, the European Parliament has denounced it, and John Oliver is hilarious about it (video). Meanwhile, Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who leaked the information about the NSA's surveillance program, is being praised widely as a hero and a patriot. There's already a petition on Whitehouse.gov to pardon him for his involvement, and it's already reached half the required number of signatures for a response from the Obama administration.

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Glad to see some real pushback (5, Insightful)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about a year ago | (#43978985)

Keep writing your Congressmen AND your local media outlets. Actually, write a letter, email it again, then call and leave a brief message about the same topic. And, make it clear that you will vote them out on that issue. They do cave in when they think their jobs are on the line.

Re:Glad to see some real pushback (4, Insightful)

dunng808 (448849) | about a year ago | (#43979183)

David Drummond got it just right. I do think wide scale monitoring should stop, but shedding some light on what really is happening is necessary to gain the voter's trust.

Big Government is more than just government. These are people, with agendas, who will abuse their power to achieve their personal objectives, wrapped in a shroud of doing what's right for the country. Then there is political party affiliation, where too often people are loyal to the point of treading on their opponents rights. Big Government puts power in the hands of individual people, and that is where it is abused.

Re:Glad to see some real pushback (5, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#43979633)

David Drummond got it just right.

David Drummond got it completely wrong. He's either openly lieing or an idiot. The NSA doesn't have to let Google know they are taking data from them. If the NSA thinks they have the legal authority, they'll just plant their own DBAs at google, give themselves API access and run whatever queries they want against their data anytime they want. It's not like Google could tell given the amount of transactions they're likely seeing in a day. Likely the only reason Google ever sees a FISA request is because the data needs to be used in court.

There is an active and concerted effort to play down what's actually happened here. Remember that the united states spends 80 BILLION dollars on intelligence a year. They have several data centers that dwarf even Google in size. They pull more power than most large cities to run them. Do you really think this is limited to a few thousand or even hundred thousand data requests per year? The feds have access to all the data... from every large company... they are storing it, querying it, and likely doing all of this without a court order. Our government is completely out of control, this has to stop, and it's up to them to prove they've limited their surveillance, it's not up to us to trust them.

Re:Glad to see some real pushback (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43979665)

Big Government is more than just government.

  “Collection directly from the servers of these U.S. Service Providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube [and] Apple.” (NSA Presentation)

In the US, your problem is that you have fascism, not big government.

Re:Glad to see some real pushback (4, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about a year ago | (#43979809)

Then there is political party affiliation, where too often people are loyal to the point of treading on their opponents rights.

I want to comment on this point specifically because what you wrote is a common misunderstanding of such events. Their political opponents are just collateral damage - they are treading on the right of the citizenry to have a fair and representative government. Such actions are a crime against all of us regardless of party affiliation because they are essentially an attack on the democratic process itself.

Re:Glad to see some real pushback (1)

flu1d (664635) | about a year ago | (#43979185)

So what do I do when my Congressmen already publicly appose these tactics yet I have the suspicion that they privately support them? The two party system is working out well for the US. Either vote someone in who publicly discards your privacy or vote someone in who will denounce the very thing they're doing.

Re:Glad to see some real pushback (1)

jdogalt (961241) | about a year ago | (#43979481)

So what do I do when my Congressmen already publicly appose these tactics yet I have the suspicion that they privately support them? The two party system is working out well for the US. Either vote someone in who publicly discards your privacy or vote someone in who will denounce the very thing they're doing.

I think the standard answer is- get a job, work hard, get trust (misplaced or not), power, and money, then get access to the systems that are ripe for abuse. Then you will face a moral dilemna. On the one hand you could abuse those systems to gain more power and money. On the other hand you could pretend that they don't exist. On the other other hand, you could become an NSA whistleblower, and wonder what they will do to your wife and kids at GITMO. It's a toughey.

Re:Glad to see some real pushback (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#43979337)

They do cave in when they think their jobs are on the line..

But they aren't. Everyone in every national-level election for the past twenty years has had their campaign paid for by the same people, often these same people (and groups) sponsored both candidates. And when they leave Congress, they'll have a job waiting for them with one of those groups... on one condition: They don't listen to you or your concerns.

The most we get anymore now from public outrage is this -- open letters that basically say "Nothing is wrong and we're working to fix it as quickly as possible!"

Re:Glad to see some real pushback (2)

meta-monkey (321000) | about a year ago | (#43979397)

And remember...they didn't do anything illegal, and it's only bad if it's illegal.

Re:Glad to see some real pushback (4, Interesting)

Frobnicator (565869) | about a year ago | (#43979979)

And remember...they didn't do anything illegal, and it's only bad if it's illegal.

That is where it gets tricky.

It is easy to jump to conclusions, but just like any other technical field, you need to pay attention to the legal details.

Technically what they did is legal. It is a loophole that has been in place for two centuries, ever since the Bill of Rights came into effect.

Police found early on that they cannot compel the person to give up their own records, so they went for business records on the people. For example, if you want to get evidence of tax evasion you don't audit the individual, you get their bank records and other business records. The individual's own records are of very little value to the government. Other examples are your credit report (it is not your data, it is the credit bureau's data), and medical history (it is not your data, it is the hospital's data). They followed the legal steps to compel businesses to give up information about you.

In that respect, they did follow the law. The spy organizations went to the courts, got a court order demanding business records, and executed the order. The codified law allows those requests, and the individual requests are legal. Congress knew about it, they made it legal. The courts knew about it, they have ruled on it many times. The spy agencies knew about it, they helped craft the laws. That is the law, and they followed it.

So leads to the difficulty.

Collecting some records is normally fine. That is how government has operated for two centuries now: Go to the courts, get a rubber stamp, get data from a business. For example, phone records may tie you (or your phone) to a crime. Police get a court's rubber stamp, get the record of an individual call from the phone company and proceed with their investigation. This is a long-established acceptable pattern.

The law allows for collection of all kinds of data. Collecting all records in aggregate CAN mean something different than individual records. Collecting every record means you CAN track associations and assembly (First Amendment) and your general security (Fourth Amendment). It is a little shaky because they didn't directly interfere with the rights of the individual. The aggregate data MAY be used that way. But just because something CAN happen and MAY be done, but so far nobody can PROVE they were used to actually violate either set of constitutional rights.

Without that proof, this is a very broad but still perfectly legal demand for data. Hence the difficulty under the law.

Although I can easily argue that mass collection of data violates the First and Fourth, I am unable to draw a line between where obtaining some records is legal (and it needs to be legal for the system to work) and where it is enough that it violates the constitution. That line needs to be figured out.

Re:Glad to see some real pushback (5, Insightful)

Greyfox (87712) | about a year ago | (#43979423)

It's just because they got caught. We were all screaming about Carnivore back in the 90's and no one listened. The histronics associated with the realization that various TLAs are listening to all communications are disingenuous at best or the result of really, really bad journalists at worst. This story is not a story. It was a story two decades ago.

Re:Glad to see some real pushback (3, Insightful)

houghi (78078) | about a year ago | (#43979483)

And YOU should write. Do not let companies defend your rights, because they are not interested in them.
Do not say later: we didn't know.

Oh the ironi... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43979005)

My ironi meter just exploted.

Re:Oh the ironi... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43979099)

So did my ESL meter. I think you mean "irony". That was a good post in theory.

stopwatching.us? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43979021)

Heh, I like to look up the lyrics for lily allen's fuck you, when I think my boss/coworkers lose out to the voyeurism fetish.

Facebook and Google and the NSA (4, Insightful)

bl968 (190792) | about a year ago | (#43979039)

I have been thinking about the claims by Facebook and Google that no government agencies have direct access to their servers, and that is likely quite correct.

What they do most likely have, is a tap point on Facebook's and Google's networks which can then snoop on all traffic between their servers and their users and visa versa then ship it off en masse to the NSA for processing and storage... So their statements while technically true, are still intentionally false and misleading.

It's been well known that the government has had these taps on the major phone company networks and the internet backbone for years.

Re:Facebook and Google and the NSA (2)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about a year ago | (#43979107)

I read about this somewhere... they use a web crawler to get the PUBLIC data, private data requires court order, which is liberally given at the slightest suspicion of anything (remember that case w the teen girl and judge ordering her to give up her facebook password randomly?).

Also, the Utah datacenter was in the news a year or two ago, people didn't make a big deal of it then, even though it was correctly (now known) guessed that it would be used for mass surveillance.

They can just intercept everything else by hijacking an IX.

Re:Facebook and Google and the NSA (4, Insightful)

bl968 (190792) | about a year ago | (#43979129)

If that was the case then the NSA slides would not have listed both Google and Facebook as being onboard and partners in their PRISM system.

Re:Facebook and Google and the NSA (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#43979181)

If that was the case then the NSA slides would not have listed both Google and Facebook as being onboard and partners in their PRISM system.

Unless that 'revelation' was intentional misdirection.

Re:Facebook and Google and the NSA (5, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about a year ago | (#43979883)

> Unless that 'revelation' was intentional misdirection.

Doubt it. This isn't cold war spy-vs-spy stuff with levels on levels and double and triple agents. The "enemy" is a bunch of random dudes with basically no espionage capability - the idea of al qaeda or even the muslim brotherhood infiltrating anything in the US is just patently absurd. There is no reason for internal NSA documents to contain misleading information because there is no one to mislead - they get to straight out lie in testimony to congress, that's more than enough misdirection to cover any plausible risk.

Re:Facebook and Google and the NSA (1)

Branciforte (2437662) | about a year ago | (#43979331)

Because, as we all know, it is impossible to use powerpoint to create a presentation that is not the complete truth. It is not possible that someone was describing a system that they would like to have. Since it is powerpoint, it must be the truth.

Re:Facebook and Google and the NSA (1)

The_Wilschon (782534) | about a year ago | (#43979473)

That's why we need to keep people from switching to LibreOffice. They've never quite managed to implement a TruthFilter(TM) like MS Powerpoint has.

Re:Facebook and Google and the NSA (1)

asmkm22 (1902712) | about a year ago | (#43979947)

Without knowing what the other 37 slides show, it's hard to say.

Re:Facebook and Google and the NSA (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43979201)

They will continue to say 'no direct access' or whatever other prepared 'legal' bullshit re-definition of common sense they've cooked up.

They bottom line is that they are blatantly violating the constitution and directly offending virtually every single American in this country. This is a clear and present a danger to personal freedom as there can be.

Everyone should take an hour this weekend and use to the internet to see what their sitting reps and senators voted on atrocities like the Patriot Act, etc.

Vote these people out. Then demand that whomever takes their place repeal all of this garbage. Then we can move on to the bankers...

Re:Facebook and Google and the NSA (1)

Jonah Hex (651948) | about a year ago | (#43979211)

They are probably directed as part of the Special Source Ops program to tell the NSA version of the truth. If you are legally obligated to lie, to tell only the truth the government wants out there, you'd have to talk around it in order to promote change. So they are being false and misleading because they legally can't do anything else. They need to work in allegory and talk about aspects of it that they can talk about it in public. - HEX

Re:Facebook and Google and the NSA (2)

jdogalt (961241) | about a year ago | (#43979591)

this

we are not crazy. They are misleading us, and it gets insane when they feel so guilty that have to resort to these tactics.

Re:Facebook and Google and the NSA (1)

negRo_slim (636783) | about a year ago | (#43979273)

I have been thinking about the claims by Facebook and Google that no government agencies have direct access to their servers, and that is likely quite correct.

What they do most likely have, is a tap point on Facebook's and Google's networks which can then snoop on all traffic between their servers and their users and visa versa then ship it off en masse to the NSA for processing and storage... So their statements while technically true, are still intentionally false and misleading.

It's been well known that the government has had these taps on the major phone company networks and the internet backbone for years.

I've been feeling that they are liking arguing semantics. Sure the government doesn't have direct access but a 3rd party does and via perhaps their data the government gets what it wants or something a long those lines.

Re:Facebook and Google and the NSA (2)

meta-monkey (321000) | about a year ago | (#43979409)

"Of course we don't have direct access! Internets go through routers."

Re:Facebook and Google and the NSA (3, Interesting)

vettemph (540399) | about a year ago | (#43979419)

And why does traceroute show that EVERYTHING I ever trace goes through Washington, Ashburn VA. or McLean VA.

  I usually use the 'mtr' command (linux). I've been seeing this for years and have always been suspicious about it.
  The FBI wants us to report suspicious activity in case of terrorists. Well, I find this suspicious.

Re:Facebook and Google and the NSA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43979825)

Could be a quirk of your ISP. Heck, back when I was a network technician (2000) I remember there being a case where a misconfigured route caused many of our customers to have all of their data routed through the Chicago datacenter of the large telco that bought us. We were located in the Bay Area. Funny little anecdote, we probably would never have noticed it if it weren't for a complaint we got from someone who threatened to cancel his service after players on his Unreal Tournament server started griping about higher ping times.

Re:Facebook and Google and the NSA (2)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | about a year ago | (#43979437)

Actually, they don't need access to Google and Facebook data, they have direct access to all communications at the connection points [zerohedge.com] .

https (3, Insightful)

jdogalt (961241) | about a year ago | (#43979611)

Actually, they don't need access to Google and Facebook data, they have direct access to all communications at the connection points [zerohedge.com].

umm... https dude

Re:Facebook and Google and the NSA (1)

BitterOak (537666) | about a year ago | (#43979575)

I have been thinking about the claims by Facebook and Google that no government agencies have direct access to their servers, and that is likely quite correct.

What they do most likely have, is a tap point on Facebook's and Google's networks which can then snoop on all traffic between their servers and their users and visa versa then ship it off en masse to the NSA for processing and storage...

But most traffic to and from Facebook and Google now is SSL encrypted. So the questions is, has Google and/or Facebook provided the government with the means to decrypt it?

Re:Facebook and Google and the NSA (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43979803)

But most traffic to and from Facebook and Google now is SSL encrypted. So the questions is, has Google and/or Facebook provided the government with the means to decrypt it?

Maybe, but it's not necessary for Google or Facebook to provide the means. If the government (or any other powerful entity) decided you were noteworthy, and therefore decided to MitM you, they could have any of a dozen .. a hundred? .. any of a great many CAs issue a fake Google or Facebook cert, and your web browser would likely treat the sudden change of keys as a complete non-event. This type of attack wouldn't work in general (e.g. vs ssh) but against popular web browsers? No problem.

A PGP user from around 1990 (approximately) with a rule of "need 3 moderately trusted introducers to count as trusted" had better tech than our browsers have today. Imagine opening a time tunnel to that 1990 user, and telling him to mark a hundred random strangers that he knows nothing about, has never met, as "fully trusted." He'd laugh in your face. He'd say, "Oh, you're with the government." He'd marvel at how our ciphers got better and our key exchange got worse, making all the crypo tech so meaningless and irrelevant.

Re:Facebook and Google and the NSA (4, Interesting)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#43979685)

What they do most likely have, is a tap point on Facebook's and Google's networks

You're way over-thinking this. The NSA just sends their DBA's over to google with fake credentials. They get hired based on their stellar work history. Then they create accounts with full access to Googles APIs and hand them over to the NSA. The NSA can run any query they want against googles data. They can even CHANGE it. It would be a trivial thing to do and would only be noticed if the traffic was excessive. I doubt there's any query that Google would even bat an eyelash at given their size.

Re:Facebook and Google and the NSA (2)

highvista63 (587404) | about a year ago | (#43979983)

There was an interview this morning on NPR with James Bamford where he claims the NSA has prisms installed on major fiber optic backbones to get their own duplicate direct feeds. So that's why they call the operation "Prism". See http://www.npr.org/2013/06/11/190601064/nsa-collects-massive-amounts-of-data-then-what [npr.org] .

Impeach Obama! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43979069)

And grab Bush Jr for a bit of justice while you're at it.
 
These guys need to see the inside of a cell for the rest of their lives.

Re:Impeach Obama! (-1)

jdogalt (961241) | about a year ago | (#43979631)

While it might be logical and judicial to impeach Obama for this, in a colorblind way, I think we need to remember that his is the first non-white male leader of a nation with a relatively recent history of slavery against a large portion of his racial heritage.

But your general point, that the justice system has become farcical due to the unpunished justice of the prior administration, is spot on.

I myself therapeutically grow cannabis in the Free State of Kansas.

It should be illegal but isn't, that's the problem (5, Interesting)

Faizdog (243703) | about a year ago | (#43979083)

One of the best comments was from John Oliver on the Daily Show. In response to Obama's defense that there is the FISA court overseeing this and that member's of congress are briefed, he said great, so it's not just one branch of government acting improperly, all 3 are! That's supposed to be better (me paraphrasing). It's not that these programs aren't illegal, it's the very fact that they aren't that's a problem! (Or aren't considered illegal by the government, many would argue they are illegal in sight of the Constitution).

I'm usually a big government, bleeding heart liberal, but not in the areas of governmental police powers (monitoring citizens, etc). Basically, if the government is helping it's citizens, I support that (healthcare, etc) but if it's looking at it's citizens to protect itself, I don't like that at all.

Here are 2 quotes that were on /. yesterday:
"The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government."
-Patrick Henry

"The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them."
Patrick Henry

Re:It should be illegal but isn't, that's the prob (5, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#43979195)

One you missed:

"Tyranny is defined as that which is legal for the government but illegal for the citizenry." -- Thomas Jefferson

Re:It should be illegal but isn't, that's the prob (0, Troll)

udachny (2454394) | about a year ago | (#43979375)

He didn't miss it, read his words carefully once more, he is all for it. He is all for it when it suits his purposes, he is just outraged that it can be also used against him.

He wants the governments to discriminate, he just doesn't like when it's HE who gets the short end of the stick.

Re:It should be illegal but isn't, that's the prob (2, Informative)

istartedi (132515) | about a year ago | (#43979567)

"If the citizens are not vigilant, I fear we shall be frequently misquoted [monticello.org] " --George Washington

Re:It should be illegal but isn't, that's the prob (3, Insightful)

udachny (2454394) | about a year ago | (#43979233)

I'm usually a big government, bleeding heart liberal, but not in the areas of governmental police powers (monitoring citizens, etc). Basically, if the government is helping it's citizens, I support that (healthcare, etc) but if it's looking at it's citizens to protect itself, I don't like that at all.

- you, and others like you are the problem.

You gave the government its power to abuse the law, the Constitution, you gave the government ability to go above and beyond what is authorized by the Constitution to the government when you stand for things like 'helping citizens'.

The only way a government can really help citizens is by providing EQUAL TREATMENT UNDER LAW, which is where equal opportunities come from, which is what allows for maximum individual freedom. It is individual freedom that grows the economy by giving people incentives and removing barriers that prevent them from trying to get rich by building a better, cheaper product.

People are served best not by any government with growing powers, people are served best by other people trying to figure out how to serve people in the most efficient way possible by doing what people are actually interested in.

You are the root cause that created this problem, never a solution to anything.

Re:It should be illegal but isn't, that's the prob (3, Insightful)

jdogalt (961241) | about a year ago | (#43979739)

you sound a little like the Ayn Randian Libertarian I was 20 years ago. I suggest you pay a little more attention to the intimacy that our relatively recent history with outright slavery, and subtler forms of exploiting those who in various large subsets of humanity, have had their freedom of speech severely curtailed with no recourse to any effective system of justice.

Not only do I think your final sentence borders on silly (that the person you are replying to is the 'root cause' of these woes), but I think you are generally wrong. Having social safety nets in place, amongst a system that is almost unavoidably quite leisse-fair predatory (predatory in the sense that some of the winners are completely content winning while directly profiting from some of the losers that they are clearly, directly, stifling the free speech or other rights of)- ... is a good idea.

Now, I do believe that charity should generally be voluntary. But giving a person shelter, food, and clothing, rather than watching them waste away in the elements, is not only a pleasant thing to do, but also overall net profitable to everyone who failed to see the better wisdom of putting forth the effort necessary to have those safety nets sufficiently in place that there is no demand for a governmental safety net.

Re:It should be illegal but isn't, that's the prob (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about a year ago | (#43979831)

people are served best by other people trying to figure out how to serve people in the most efficient way possible by doing what people are actually interested in.

Yes, and that is what is called forming a government, the problem is not government itself the problem getting them to keep their eye on that goal. The "profit" from a well run public sewer/water works is that WE don't die, the profit from a well run UHC (such as the one here in Oz) is that it cost much less (1.5% of taxable income) and nobody goes bankrupt due to illness.

You are the root cause that created this problem

If you're not interested in that then fine but other people are and it has nothing to do with them trampling your rights and everything to do with "serve[ing] people in the most efficient way possible"..

Re:It should be illegal but isn't, that's the prob (0, Troll)

udachny (2454394) | about a year ago | (#43979933)

Yes, and that is what is called forming a government, the problem is not government itself the problem getting them to keep their eye on that goal

- wrong, that's called building a successful business.

The "profit" from a well run public sewer/water works is that WE don't die,

- wrong, the profit is the reward that the investors get for providing the public with clean water and a working sewer systems.

the profit from a well run UHC

- USA used to have that before the mob broke it. It was cheap health care where people paid for most routine stuff out of pocket and 2 (two) dollars a month was one of the most popular health care insurance plans that provided catastrophic coverage. That's what provided cheap and sustainable health care without growing government in process, it actually was best in the world at the time before gov't cockroaches destroyed while the mob was cheering.

If you're not interested in that then fine but other people are and it has nothing to do with them trampling your rights and everything to do with "serve[ing] people in the most efficient way possible"..

- right, most efficient way possible has nothing to do with government. Fact: efficiency is no priority for governments, only growing power is priority and you don't grow power to reducing costs, you grow power by growing the apparatus around you.

Re:It should be illegal but isn't, that's the prob (3, Insightful)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | about a year ago | (#43979255)

One of the best comments was from John Oliver on the Daily Show.

His best line was something like "we're not accusing you of breaking any laws, we're just surprised you didn't."

He also pointed out how the FISA courts, which are there to oversee any surveillance requests, have literally never denied a request. That's some good rubber-stamping action there.

Re:It should be illegal but isn't, that's the prob (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43979377)

If the FISA courts have never denied a request, then that's proof nothing improper's going on!
Nobody's even asking for anything out of line. The system is working.

Re:It should be illegal but isn't, that's the prob (1)

meta-monkey (321000) | about a year ago | (#43979457)

What's truly scary? The one they didn't. [eff.org] So they rubber stamped thousands of orders that basically amounted to "everything anyone does anywhere," but on at least one occasion they ruled one thing "unconstitutional."

Get that? Recording your email, your search history, photos, videos, phone records, whatever, just fine. If that stuff was fine...what the hell did they want to do that WASN'T fine?

Re:It should be illegal but isn't, that's the prob (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43979415)

Why is "liberal" now associated with what is essentially a communist agenda? Forcibly taking wealth from one person to provide public services for others has nothing to do with liberty and everything to do with coercion.

Personally, I'm more worried about Google (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43979091)

Amazon, Facebook (if I was a member there), my bank, my credit card company, the phone company, etc. and what they're doing with gigabytes of data they've collected on me personally, more than the Federal government. What is the Fed. government going to do? They can't use it for commercial purposes.

Google is playing the well known game of passing the hot potato.

Re:Personally, I'm more worried about Google (2)

Trashcan Romeo (2675341) | about a year ago | (#43979173)

What is the federal government going to do? Probably nothing... unless you do something stupid like expose its war crimes. [See: Manning, Bradley] What might one employee in the federal government whom you pissed off do with a record of all your web searches? Use your imagination.

Tech Industry, Take Note from the Gun Industry (5, Insightful)

cervesaebraciator (2352888) | about a year ago | (#43979103)

If you're concerned about customer pushback from this surveillance, support the EFF like the gun industry supports the NRA. May the EFF be as effective in defending our first and fourth amendment rights as the NRA is at going after any opposition to the second.

Re:Tech Industry, Take Note from the Gun Industry (1)

meta-monkey (321000) | about a year ago | (#43979265)

I don't think you understand. The Internet has been militarized. The tech companies are now defense contractors.

Re:Tech Industry, Take Note from the Gun Industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43979905)

And that would be all fine and dandy, if the users were the customer, not the product.

In other words... (1)

Trashcan Romeo (2675341) | about a year ago | (#43979111)

"Please help us not look like your bitch."

So how aren't they spying on US citizens? (5, Insightful)

BUL2294 (1081735) | about a year ago | (#43979119)

Given everything that I've heard about PRISM over the past few days, I have one major question...

How do they know who is a US citizen and who isn't?

I don't remember being asked nor answering a "citizenship question" when signing up for GMail, Hotmail, Facebook, Skype, YouTube, etc. Is the NSA data matching names to (known) citizens and throwing out that data? Kinda tough to accurately do so for the "Bill Smiths" of the world, not all of which live in the US. Are they building a profile of everyone by address, thus assuming US residents are "citizens"? If I set up a fake Hotmail account as "Bubbles Sanchez" and say I live in Miami (and my ISP says I'm in Miami), does that make me and my data a "citizen" in the eyes of the NSA?

Or are they simply vacuuming up everything from these sites and TELLING US they're not looking at US citizens' data, simply because they don't have a decent way (let alone a fool-proof one) to tell who is a citizen or not?

And foreign resident US citizens? (1)

Bruce66423 (1678196) | about a year ago | (#43979161)

Who surely are being hoovered up?

Re:So how aren't they spying on US citizens? (4, Informative)

BUL2294 (1081735) | about a year ago | (#43979243)

Oh wait... According to John Oliver, if some NSA system gives me a 51% "foreignness" rating, I must be a foreigner and not a US citizen.

Well, I feel confident...

Re:So how aren't they spying on US citizens? (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about a year ago | (#43979251)

They have ways of knowing who is a US citizens . . . but those ways . . . are, like, secret . . . you know . . . ?

Re:So how aren't they spying on US citizens? (2)

BUL2294 (1081735) | about a year ago | (#43979441)

No, they don't. Sure, those born in the USA in a hospital and those who have passports are generally known. But there are people who don't know they even are American citizens, as they were born in a foreign country & had one parent who might dual-citizenship, yet have never set foot on American soil... I doubt the NSA knows those peoples' names & doubtful they're throwing out data associated with those people... I doubt the NSA knows unless the IRS comes knocking on those (unknown) citizens' doorsteps. (Happens to Canadians all the time...)

IIRC, one of the people who was supposed to be sent to Guantanamo a decade ago turned out to be a US citizen (by birth)--he even had no idea...

Re:So how aren't they spying on US citizens? (1)

cervesaebraciator (2352888) | about a year ago | (#43979671)

They'll all know when they start getting bills for back taxes from the IRS.

Re:So how aren't they spying on US citizens? (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | about a year ago | (#43979389)

Did they say they weren't looking at US citizens' data?

I understood that they said they were getting meta-data on everyone. Period.

And that it was legal because some BS rubber stamp court said so.

Re:So how aren't they spying on US citizens? (2)

cervesaebraciator (2352888) | about a year ago | (#43979749)

You're getting the surveillance efforts mixed up--perfectly understandable given how fast this stuff's been coming out. He's talking about PRISM [wikipedia.org] , a program whereby the NSA is able to obtain "email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, voice over IP conversations, file transfers, login notifications and social networking details." This is what the apologists would have you think does not cover everyone. You're thinking of the related FISA requests to Verizon [wikipedia.org] , which covers more or less everyone.

Re:So how aren't they spying on US citizens? (2)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | about a year ago | (#43979529)

How do they know who is a US citizen and who isn't?

Check out the Daily Show video and the clip they show from MS NBC, they're basically flipping a coin. 51% accuracy.

Re:So how aren't they spying on US citizens? (1)

quarterbuck (1268694) | about a year ago | (#43979691)

One thing that is known about Google is that it always keeps a record of the location an account was created in. If you created a Google account in Pakistan and moved to US for 10 years and then deleted all your emails at end of 10 years and then logged in to the account from UK, Google still will remember that this account was tied to a Pakistani user.
Maybe they use it to determine nationality ? Or maybe they assume you are an alien unless proved otherwise (credit cards, mobile numbers etc.?)

WTF is going on? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43979121)

I have just tried to add my signature from two different IP addresses and, in both cases, I am told that I have already signed this petition.

Your name has already been used! (3, Funny)

mha (1305) | about a year ago | (#43979341)

"Anonymous Coward" has already signed that petition. Maybe you should get a real name if you want to show support? ;-)

Untrue my ass (0, Troll)

udachny (2454394) | about a year ago | (#43979149)

Google chief legal officer David Drummond again insisted that reports of his company freely offering user data to the NSA and other agencies were untrue. 'However,'

- bullshit. Catch 22 in action.

They can't disclose this legally or they will face massive government attack from all fronts, be it IRS or OSHA or EPA or SEC or whatever agency, or however many agencies for however long a stretch of time, maybe even personal threats are used.

You just can't know because in a Police State these things are all catch 22 based. You can't ask and you can say, you just have to do what you are told and if you don't, then you are fucked. That's part of what I am talking about when I speak of individual freedoms being destroyed by the mob that votes for bigger and bigger government on the premise that bigger government is a way for the mob to steal from a minority (businesses) to subsidise themselves, and it doesn't matter to the mob, how these things are done.

Google, Drummond added, 'has nothing to hide.'

- sure sure, Google will not be hiding user information from government, but when it comes to their own money, it's well hidden from that very government.

headlined by Mozilla

- I was and am always suspicious of the way Mozilla handles self-signed certificates.

AFAIC CAs are the real threat when it comes to the man in the middle attacks. Can't CA provide NSA with another valid certificate, which will be placed into your machine silently because of CA, which creates a much simpler MITM attack than actually doing it the way all these people supposedly concerned about such attacks talk about, when it comes to self signed certs? I don't trust CAs at all, says who that NSA is not working with every one of them?

As a side note, Snowden's just may become what Mohamed Bouazizi was for Tunisia, but I wish him to stay alive. Whoever saying that he is a 'traitor' is a fucking snake tongued piece of shit. Giving away government secrets is not treason if it is government that is breaking the law.

Real treason is directed AT THE PEOPLE, not at any government. Government abusing its power to snoop on people is an illegal act of Treason against people and the Constitution, don't be fooled.

Sure, complain about it now. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43979155)

We've all known that this stuff has being going on for at least a decade. There were lively discussions about it here then.
Why is everyone so suddenly concerned about it now?

There's nothing special about this new revelation other than a bit of a media campaign. Please, continue to be outraged. Someone payed good money to make sure you feel that way.

Re:Sure, complain about it now. (0)

udachny (2454394) | about a year ago | (#43979267)

You are an NSA or whatever other government agency cockroach, not even a shill, just an dark corner dwelling insect.

The reason people are outraged now is because finally it is NOT ME who says things like that but a guy who actually came out with enough evidence that "MAIN STREAM MEDIA" finally cannot wiggle their way out of this.

Now the MSM cockroaches have the same exact attitude as you, government cockroach: why the outrage now, we 'knew' about it?

Because, government cockroach, they can't pretend it's not real and dismiss it.

Re:Sure, complain about it now. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43979461)

I'm not excusing the behavior. Those are your words. I'm nobody. You're paranoid.
This story is old, like I said, about a decade old.

The current media barrage includes the MSM. Lots of outrage is being manufactured. It's being spewed all over the social media landscape. All the earmarks of a social media manipulation campaign are here.

It's nice that you feel strongly about this issue, and it is a just cause. Just don't forget in your passion that you might be manipulated.

While it's nice that this is out in the open all of a sudden, people really should have being paying attention a decade ago. Instead they called me a terrorist lover and un-american. Today I shrug and say "Told you so".. And then you spit in my face when I tell you about the next way you're being conned. Oh well. I'm used to it.

If I were to guess at the real meaning of recent events.. I'd say it's an attempt to create a feeling of big govt paranoia and mistrust among conservatives. This, Benghazi (or however its spelled), the IRS non-story, are a planed sequence of events to attempt to rile up the teapartiers and company for the coming elections. Nothing more.

the next month (2)

hurfy (735314) | about a year ago | (#43979165)

Google recieves a record low number of nasty letters, only 50. One for Alabama, One for Alaska........

Not interested in more noninformative information.

meh, too lazy to write out the full rant

Stasi (2)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year ago | (#43979177)

Germans [reuters.com] aren't happy about it neither. Will demand explanations to Obama when he visits them next week.

Petition (2, Insightful)

DaMattster (977781) | about a year ago | (#43979197)

Just signed it. Took a set of brass balls for Snowden to do what he did and, yes, he is a real patriot for standing up for the civil rights and liberties of the American people.

Good! (2)

bogidu (300637) | about a year ago | (#43979199)

Tell them to get bent, Americans are citizens, not subjects!

How do you trust liars and criminals? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43979213)

The government will lie and cover things up same as Gulf of Tonkin, Liberty ship bombing, WMDs in Iraq.

Active support for dictatorships world wide, suppression of democracy here and abroad (fbi infiltration of activist groups and suggesting criminal behavior)...

Trashing the planet environmentally...

They have lost all credibility (for some time now). I would prefer the military take over temporarily until a democracy can be installed...yup! I trust them more than politicians.

Do we know if Verisign is involved with the NSA? (1)

Adult film producer (866485) | about a year ago | (#43979249)

I'm very curious about the security of my "cloud"

Re:Do we know if Verisign is involved with the NSA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43979879)

If they 'can', they 'will'. In this instance they most certain can.

Burn It (2, Insightful)

KeensMustard (655606) | about a year ago | (#43979253)

Burn it in the only way you can. Write letters, protest at every opportunity, and in every forum.

Be polite if you can, but recognise that social graces have their place, and if need be, you might need to be rude. Don't let quislings tell you "it's for the safety/the family/the children" without confronting them. Don't let quislings tell you "it's the fault of KODOS" they are just trying to make this a different discussion they can control.

We've all felt helpless for far too long. I say "we" I'm not an american, but every western country has seen this creeping up on them. I'm not stupid enough to imagine that the NSA doesn't keep data on me if that serves some commercial or political advantage for some client. So we stand with you. You aren't helpless. The pen is still mightier than the sword.

innocents will suffer the most (4, Insightful)

jpc1957 (1820122) | about a year ago | (#43979277)

Innocent individuals identified as suspects are the biggest issue to me. For all those people that say there isn't any issue with any level of snooping if you don't have anything to hide, you are exactly who should be worried. The more data available to analyze, the more false positives will be identified. And the attitude now is we can't risk any potential terrorist falling through the cracks. Combine that with gag orders, security letters instead of warrants, sting operations, indefinite determent.. It's guaranteed that some very unlucky and completely innocent people will be going through hell for a long time.

Re:innocents will suffer the most (5, Interesting)

meta-monkey (321000) | about a year ago | (#43979771)

Also, I'm sick of the word "snooping." This is not snooping.

Snooping is what you do when you're 8 and you look in your parents' closet for your Christmas presents.

Snooping is what you do when you ask around if the cute girl in school has a boyfriend and if she just "likes" you or if she "like likes" you.

This is spying. This is invading. This is tracking, watching, monitoring, recording everything you, your mom and your kid sister do and storing it forever.

And what's scarier than that revelation? CNN. I always knew the media in the US was "US centric." The reporters are Americans, so of course they're going to be more forgiving of stuff the government does to foreigners. But I rejected the "conspiracy theory" that what they report is dictated by the government, as they're for-profit companies. And they're lazy, so the horse race, talking heads reporting was just what lazy companies do.

But that's not the case here. If they're just lazy...fuck, this should be easy. Massive government scandal. McCarthy/Watergate/Pentagon Papers all rolled into one. A reporter and a news agency could make a career, an empire out of this! Don't journalism students want to be Bob Woodward?

And what's on the front page of CNN right now? I just looked. A picture of George W. Bush and a headline "Miss me yet?" about a poll. Another story "Second term blues for Obama." The same "hero or traitor?" op-ed everybody else has wherein "security experts" call him a traitor and then they find misspelled quotes from stoners about him, like, tellin' off the man and stuff, man.

"Hero or traitor? Who can say!" Ummmmm...you can, CNN. That's your fucking job. It is literally the divide and conquer bullshit from Goebbels. Confirmation that both parties are totally fine with spying on every American citizen, and that's "second term blues?" SECOND TERM BLUES?! Completely unconscionable, unconstitutional, straight-up evil actions at the highest levels of the land, and that's "the blues?" No, CNN, that's not the blues. "Aw, shucks, I missed the bus and spilled coffee on my shirt" is the blues. This shit...this shit is not the blues. And the cure for the blues is the poll on the other story about electing a Republican next time, because that'll fix it, right?

They're really complicit in feeding the red vs blue bullshit machine, when it would be easier, and more profitable to investigate the whole system.

My dad always told me, "never attribute to malice what's just as likely ignorance." I thought CNN and the MSM were just lazy and inept, but...this isn't lazy or inept. This is directed. There's no other explanation.

I want my mommy.

Suffer how? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43979997)

Suffer an even higher level of scrutiny that they will never know about because it is secret?

Or are you suggesting that there are or will be innocent people who, based on "false positives" are actually tried and convicted for crimes that they haven't committed.

A Response? (3)

OverlordQ (264228) | about a year ago | (#43979281)

it's already reached half the required number of signatures for a response from the Obama administration.

You're expecting more than "We cannot comment on an ongoing criminal investigation."?

Potential Suicide (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43979301)

As corrupt as this administration is, as a business do you really want to piss them off? They could make life really rough for you, or put you out of business.

Dear NSA, if you have done nothing wrong... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43979327)

.. then you have nothing to hide and nothing to worry about if we all look through your stuff.

Consider the source. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43979347)

The primary objective of Google and the like is to vacuum up data about people and their behaviors.

One (2)

asicsolutions (1481269) | about a year ago | (#43979381)

The government should be all over this since they are going to the "give me all your data" model.
Google should soon safely be able to say: We got one FISA request last year.

Someone forgot the rules to be an Evil Overlord (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43979383)

Rule 12: One of my advisors will be an average five-year-old child. Any flaws in my plan that he is able to spot will be corrected before implementation.

The administration needs someone to remind them what 'normal' is. This is getting just plain silly.

StopWatching.us (0)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | about a year ago | (#43979399)

Oh, yea, great idea there, Mozilla. Collect contact information for everyone opposed to government surveillance. That will be a nice database to use as a bargaining chip with the federal bureaucrats, won't it now?

Australia doesn't mind it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43979421)

Big fucking surprise. In the UK and its colony, Herr Majesty's Government would have us all under 24 hour CCTV in the name of fighting terror and crime, and in the case of Aussies, to protect them from the scourge of small breasts and harsh language.

Fucking spineless bastards, the lot of them, getting the governments they deserve.

Let the Internet fix this flaw (1)

Joe U (443617) | about a year ago | (#43979439)

I propose that we need to call on the brightest and best and put together a think tank for fixing the mess that passes for security these days.

It is well past time that we fix SMTP, DNS, HTTP and others to require strong point to point encryption and fail if that security is broken.

Re:Let the Internet fix this flaw (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | about a year ago | (#43979477)

Those are layers on top of TCP/IP. Fix it on the protocol underneath

Serious Question: spoofed caller ID and NSA (2)

asicsolutions (1481269) | about a year ago | (#43979547)

How well can the NSA determine the calls source?
I get telemarketer calls daily: "Pack your bags..."
Always spoofed caller ID from a VOIP indian call center.
The phone company can't seem to block these crap calls.
What's to stop someone from framing someone if they got a hold of a suspicious #.
Hate your spouse, spoof their # calling it. Hate your political opponent, do it to them.

Just curious.

Re:Serious Question: spoofed caller ID and NSA (1)

erroneus (253617) | about a year ago | (#43979961)

They apparently have a box in every telco office. They can completely trace any call back to its origin.

Google Read This!!!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43979695)

Your servers are exposed from a SIGINT perspective.

Seriously, Do Something Part II (4, Informative)

Goboxer (1821502) | about a year ago | (#43979717)

I actually made most of this comment in another post about the NSA but it bears repeating.

ACLU Petition to Stop Massive Government Spying Program [aclu.org]

Please sign that petition. Or go through the EFF action page [eff.org] . Or Write your Representative [house.gov] or Write your Senators [myrepresentatives.com] . They are easy enough to find [usa.gov] . Seriously. If you aren't telling the people that represent you how wrong, awful, and downright unacceptable the NSA actions are they have no reason to stick their neck out to change it.

Nobody is asking you to fight a war, like previous generations of Americans have. Just sign a petition. Write a letter. It is that easy to improve this country. Whether you think that is true or not, remember that an outcry from a small group of people have altered politics before and it can happen again. The only thing preventing this country from getting better is silence.

Someone forgot rules to being an Evil Overlord (1)

MoonKitty (2948787) | about a year ago | (#43979751)

Rule 12: One of my advisors will be an average five-year-old child. Any flaws in my plan that he is able to spot will be corrected before implementation.

Zuckerbergist apology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43979785)

Privacy is dead; get over it.

Begging to tell the truth? (2)

erroneus (253617) | about a year ago | (#43979953)

I'm sorry... but really? "Please, let us tell the truth?!" I can't say precisely when things went "too far" but I can definitely say that things have most certainly, and unquestionably, gone too far.

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