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When the NSA Shows Up At Your Internet Company

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the when-the-man-comes-around dept.

Privacy 309

Frosty Piss writes "When people say the feds are monitoring what people are doing online, what does that mean? How does that work? When, and where, does it start? Pete Ashdown, CEO of XMission, an internet service provider in Utah, knows. He received a Foreign Intelligence Service Act (FISA) warrant in 2010 mandating he let the feds monitor one of his customers, through his facility. He also received a broad gag order. Says Mr. Ashdown, 'I would love to tell you all the details, but I did get the gag order... These programs that violate the Bill of Rights can continue because people can't go out and say, This my experience, this is what happened to me, and I don't think it is right.' In this article, Mr. Ashdown tells us about the equipment the NSA installed on his network, and what he thinks it did."

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Tiny Utah-based ISP makes a name for itself. (5, Informative)

auric_dude (610172) | about a year ago | (#44344675)

The company, a comparative midget with just 30,000 subscribers, cited the Fourth Amendment in rebuffing warrantless requests from local, state and federal authorities, showing it was possible to resist official pressure says it all http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jul/09/xmission-isp-customers-privacy-nsa [guardian.co.uk]

Re: Tiny Utah-based ISP makes a name for itself. (5, Informative)

Penguinisto (415985) | about a year ago | (#44345477)

Something to consider:

I once worked for a company that used XMission's downtown SLC location as its colo location; excellent guys, and kick-ass service. That said, there's one other bit: a large number of their 30k customers are some rather large(-ish) corporations and companies - a few of whom have the ear of Sen. Orrin Hatch, among others in both state and federal government... not to mention (guessing this part, but given their location and name) they likely have a very strong hook into the LDS hierarchy.

(By the by, XMission is one of the few (and IMO lucky) ISP's who provide for/with the UTOPIA fiber-to-home networks, and IIRC the only local/SLC-based one. )

IOW, they're not just some tiny naive dial-up provider. If they didn't have a line to some heavy-hitters, I'd wager that they'd likely buckle to the demands out of sheer survival instinct, if for no other reason.

Re: Tiny Utah-based ISP makes a name for itself. (5, Informative)

Garridan (597129) | about a year ago | (#44345617)

I once worked for a company that used XMission's downtown SLC location as its colo location; excellent guys, and kick-ass service.

I second this. My boss was a good friend of Pete's, and our site was hosted there. I got to hang out with Pete quite a bit, and he's a superb example of a human being. Moral, upstanding, and fair. XMission isn't just a 'tiny ISP', it's a long-proven company with a history of smashing success; rather than expand to a national then multinational power, it has kept sight of its core, takes care of its people, and focuses on offering the best product for its customers. This is the ISP after which all others should be modeled. Pete Ashdown for president!

They are the best (5, Informative)

AndreyFilippov (550131) | about a year ago | (#44345755)

I'm Xmission customer for 18 years and they are the best. They always notified subscribers of any interruptions of the service even if it happened for 5 minutes in the middle of the night, decribing what went wrong and what have they done to prevent similar problems in the future.
And I still drive with Pete Ashdown sticker on the back of my car since he ran for the US Senate - but it is not easy do win for a Democrat in one of the most Republican states.

Re: Tiny Utah-based ISP makes a name for itself. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44345571)

Isn't xmission where Maddox is/was hosted back when he was relevant?

Hack the black box? (2)

Rick Zeman (15628) | about a year ago | (#44344681)

Wonder what the consequences of that would be? Do two skeevy acts add up to a good act?

Re:Hack the black box? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44344739)

You'd probably be charged with a wide range of crimes, like tampering with evidence, disrupting an investigation, espionage and wiretapping (because the NSA is authorized, but you aren't).

No Surprises Here (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44344703)

You can't contest these FISA orders because even acknowledging them is a federal crime.

First rule of FISA: Don't talk about FISA

Re:No Surprises Here (3, Funny)

mrbester (200927) | about a year ago | (#44345491)

It was only when they popped by with the full document from the FISA court that it became "legitimate". Before then it was simply a piece of paper that cannot have provenance attached to it, so what the attorney should have said is "it is probably legitimate".

I've got a number of emails from Nigerian princes and domain renewal documents that are just as "legitimate"...

Re:No Surprises Here (2)

Bengie (1121981) | about a year ago | (#44345689)

How does one authenticate their authenticity?

Re:No Surprises Here (5, Insightful)

tftp (111690) | about a year ago | (#44345801)

How does one authenticate their authenticity?

When men with guns say it's authentic, it is.

Ethics versus Legality (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#44344721)

The NSA's corrupt and unethical activities have shown a bright light on the blackened and burned out husk of our ethics within the justice system. Which is to say, there really aren't any left to speak of.

The law has absolutely nothing to do with right or wrong anymore. It's just a prescription for what is allowed and isn't, not whether you should or shouldn't. It's not unlike owning a gun; By itself, it's harmless. Put it someone's hands, and what they do with it can be catastrophic. Laws are just tools. It's what is done with them we need to look at.

So far, I'm not encouraged by what I am seeing those tools used for. Perhaps its time to take them away, until they can learn to handle them responsibly.

Re:Ethics versus Legality (5, Insightful)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year ago | (#44344855)

The problem with that law is it is meant for people, it depend on people to be honest, not wanting extra money, not being able to be blackmailed or social engineered, not falling into common human bias like the ones shown in the Stanford prison experiment [wikipedia.org] . You maybe could manage to find a few people that could cope with that. But if you have up to up to 5 millon people to access that information [salon.com] (including 500k with top secret access that work at for profit contractors), then you are doing the equivalent of giving guns to all prison inmates and setting them free in all the big cities. You know that people will get killed, abused, robbed and so on with that action. So in the actual context, that law is legalized robbery with impunity.

Re:Ethics versus Legality (2)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year ago | (#44345345)

meant for people

honest, not wanting extra money, not being able to be blackmailed or social engineered

seems like kind of an oxymoron

what we really need are laws for corrupt, greedy, mindless... humans, and maybe non-humans to administer these laws

just remember to take the blue pill

Re:Ethics versus Legality (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#44345473)

just remember to take the blue pill

But please note that if you experience headache, upset stomach or heartburn, flushing, nasal congestion, dyspepsia, nasal congestion or impaired vision, including photophobia and blurred vision, you had better contact your physician immediately.

Re:Ethics versus Legality (1, Interesting)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#44345357)

The problem with that law is it is meant for people, it depend on people to be honest, not wanting extra money, not being able to be blackmailed or social engineered, not falling into common human bias like the ones shown in the Stanford prison experiment [wikipedia.org].

So, assuming humans aren't humans is how laws are meant? I don't agree with that assessment. The "wanting extra money" jab makes you sound like a misanthrope conservative/libertarian complaining about who people on welfare vote for.

Current laws are bad because they assume complete knowledge of the law (ignorance of the law is no excuse, and all that) but the law is unknowable (it changes faster than people can read, and is based on "case law" that is semi-closed and highly complex. When you commit 3 felonies a day, then why bother trying to follow the law? But if you make the law 10 rules, and enforce it with punishment of death, you have no prisons, no jails, and anything less than that is a civil matter. Assault could be a civil-matter only, and leave attempted murder for the lowest criminal side. If the damage is temporary, broken bones, bruises, then sue for damages and punitive damages.

I think that the "fix" to our current problem is to remove prison punishment for nearly all offenses.

Re:Ethics versus Legality (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44345441)

The "wanting extra money" jab makes you sound like a misanthrope conservative/libertarian complaining about who people on welfare vote for.

I don't know how you reached this conclusion. You might take some time to consider your own biases. He's clearly talking about corruption in government.

Re:Ethics versus Legality (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#44345611)

So it's the government workers taking or looking for bribes? That was a sub-set of what he said, but I've seen plenty others here who have insisted democracy is broken when the winners can bribe voters with welfare.

Re:Ethics versus Legality (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44345413)

But, but... the NSA is secure, right?

Isn't it?

Re:Ethics versus Legality (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#44345569)

The problem with that law is it is meant for people, it depend on people to be honest, not wanting extra money, not being able to be blackmailed or social engineered, not falling into common human bias like the ones shown in the Stanford prison experiment.

If people were honest, not greedy, and incapable of having any vices, and weren't stupid... there'd be no need for laws! The problem isn't the law, it's the people enforcing it. Think about the legal texts of old -- the Magna Carta. The Constitution. Hell, why not even throw in a few holy texts -- the Bible, Koran, etc. My point is a basic code of conduct took one book or less to draw the boundaries for most situations. Now, I don't want to discuss their relative merits, coz that'll take us to nasty flaming troll of doom land, it's just there to illustrate that the legal process doesn't have to be complex to be fairly complete.

This extra complexity is meant to blunt the minds of its critics and enable people to operate under color of authority to do things that many of us consider unethical or immoral. And that is the problem. The judicial process no longer has any feedback mechanism -- no way of saying "good" or "bad". Laws are written, but rarely repealed. They have no expiration date. So the system grows more and more complex, and people's ethics and morality slowly erode. Slow enough, anyway, that it's not obvious to anyone what's happening... at least until most of it has been lost.

Re:Ethics versus Legality (0)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about a year ago | (#44345721)

To be fair, the Stanford prison experiment, like the present day world, involved giving power to baby boomers. I tend to the generations following have different expectations and who will not be as willing to put up with this legalized impunity forever.

Xmission? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44344749)

They were probably monitoring http://www.maddox.xmission.com if you think about it.

Re:Xmission? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44344891)

Ding ding ding, we have a winner!

Re:Xmission? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44344949)

thats an interesting website...

Re:Xmission? (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year ago | (#44345377)

it'll probably get slashdotted

poor xmission will think they're being ddos'ed

the NSA will look at all the traffic and wonder why everyone was on slashdot beforehand, and then slashdot will come under suspicion for soliciting weird pr0n like http://goatse.cx/ [goatse.cx]

Re:Xmission? (4, Interesting)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about a year ago | (#44345085)

Or they could say they were monitoring Maddox, when in reality, they were snooping on someone else, or just mooching server space to use in a distributed network they were running. You have no idea, and neither do most people working at the NSA, or the FISA court, etc, etc.

For all anyone knows, this "monitoring equipment" could have been hosting (and let me just go for the Godwin Gold here) a child porn darknet for a ring of senior paedophiles operating inside the NSA. And if anything went wrong, or was discovered, the NSA could ahve just pinned it all on XMission, Mr. Ashdown, and his attorneys. After all, there's no official record, all are gagged from revealing what they know, and the NSA would just lie about it.

And in case this seems hyperbolic: If the NSAs programs continue for long enough, this will happen. History is the definitive proof.

Re:Xmission? (3, Informative)

Predius (560344) | about a year ago | (#44345507)

Kinda hard to do any hosting if your only connection is a port mirror, you can watch, but you can't talk over said port.

Re:Xmission? (1)

joshuaf (551531) | about a year ago | (#44345139)

That's the very first thing I thought of.

Challenge the Gag Order (5, Interesting)

TemperedAlchemist (2045966) | about a year ago | (#44344763)

Most gag order statutes have been voided for being unconstitutional.

---

What the NSA is actually doing is blatantly ignoring our bill of rights. These gag orders are not legal because they are not constitutional, regardless of what the NSA insists.

I would like them to see them -- and the court officials that go along with their little scheme, pay for their crimes against humanity (and yes, that's what it actually is). Hilarious that this organization has become the very monster it was created to destroy: a terrorist network.

Harder done than said (5, Informative)

bugnuts (94678) | about a year ago | (#44344863)

National Security Letters, which are similar, result in a lot of difficulty challenging the gag order without violating the gag order.

At the eff, they talk about national security letters. [eff.org] They have made some progress in challenging the gag orders, but this is years later. The recipient of this gag order would likely not have even been able to get it into court before they had already removed it 9 months later.

The OP was served with a FISA warrant, which is apparently more rare and somewhat different. I don't know much about these, but the eff has some info here [eff.org] .

Re:Harder done than said (2)

ArchieBunker (132337) | about a year ago | (#44345095)

What happens if one of those letters shows up on Wikileaks and it can't be traced back to the recipient?

Re: Harder done than said (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44345205)

They aren't generic, so one of the few people who saw it or received it is the leak. I'm sure they'll grab everyone up as "material witnesses" to the leak (which may be a bigger crime than the one they are investigating).

Re:Harder done than said (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44345513)

National Security Letters, which are similar, result in a lot of difficulty challenging the gag order without violating the gag order.

Don't agree to the gag order and expose the corrupt practises of the Government in the media. The terrorists won on September 11, 2001, although not in the way they planned. Meanwhile, the Government had been busily hatching these plans to subvert the Constitution and the events of September 11, 2001, were an excuse. In fact, the Government probably aided and abetted the terrorists...how else can you explain three passenger airliners all off course at approximately the same time yet nobody in ATC, FAA, USAF/NORAD noticed?

Terminate contract instead? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44344775)

What if the contract had a clause that said services would be terminated with no notice and no explanation if we receive a lawful warrant to participate in monitoring said customer?

Sort of canary?

Re:Terminate contract instead? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44344857)

Sort of canary?

No mod points -- but this is clever! Maybe too clever to actually work...?

Re:Terminate contract instead? (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year ago | (#44345467)

it would probably be construed as violating the gag order (whether it actually did or not is irrelevant in this modern day of locking people up in prison and throwing away the key and not bothering to ask questions at all)

Re:Terminate contract instead? (4, Interesting)

bugnuts (94678) | about a year ago | (#44344957)

Contracts can't override a lawful order. My thought is that they might try to charge you with something, such as hindering an investigation.

Maybe have the contract say something like "You will be charged $0.01/month if we are required to install monitoring gear" and have it show up on their bill. :)

Re:Terminate contract instead? (5, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44345277)

How would terminating a customer account violate a lawful order.

Fisa order for customer Joe arrives.
Joe's account immediately terminated.
Fisa replied to with no such account exists.
Joe calls up pissed. Receives Reply: read clause 24.65 of your contract.

Re:Terminate contract instead? (1)

bloodhawk (813939) | about a year ago | (#44345353)

It would be dicey. In affect you are violating the Gag order by writing a contract clause that gives you an indirect means of notifying the customer or preventing the monitoring. I am no lawyer but that too me sounds like a whole boat load of legal trouble to invite on themselves.

Re:Terminate contract instead? (3, Informative)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44345411)

Since the gag order is unconstitutional in the first place the feds would just let it go rather than risk a loss in court.

There are already companies that offer cloud storage that has customer side encryption that prevents them from honoring a nsa letter or a search warrant. So writing such a contract is not illegal. See SpiderOak.

Re:Terminate contract instead? (4, Informative)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#44345417)

That would violate the order as well. I've not got the law committed to memory, but "tipping off" the subject is illegal, no matter how you tip them off. So a billing change would be illegal. Terminating the service on receipt of an order to tap wouldn't tip them off of tapping, but prevent it. That may get you an obstruction charge. Or not. I'm not a lawyer, just an expert in designing and implementing lawful intercept.

Re:Terminate contract instead? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44345741)

Cock-sucking narc

Re:Terminate contract instead? (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year ago | (#44345453)

Maybe have the contract say something like "You will be charged $0.01/month if we are required to install monitoring gear" and have it show up on their bill. :)

better to say something like "You will be charged $500.00/month if we are required to install monitoring gear" and then when it happens it will be blatantly obvious to the customer what's going on and they will leave voluntarily... it doesn't really matter if the customer actually pays the $500 or not but that's not really the point of the clause

Re:Terminate contract instead? (5, Interesting)

silas_moeckel (234313) | about a year ago | (#44345403)

Basic boiler plate for legit (actual judge, actual crimes etc) warrants have a clause to keep the service active. They pay all expenses and reasonable fee's with a very loose definition of reasonable (billing out a jr techs $35 a hour time as $400 an hour was considered fairly cheap). It can be rather annoying had a dedicated server under scrutiny they had setup encrypted VPS's on the box with a spammer on one VPS that the client refused to turn off. It got bad enough that our up streams were complaining and had to get a letter and a conf call with the FBI case agent to get things settled (they were exploiting a 3 way session, spoofing the outbound packets and relaying the reply packets over a vpn to bypass our outbound spam filtering effectively just using out clean IP's).

The specifics to this one look OK they had them host a server with a single connection to a span port for the web site in question. They only had access to what the provider sent them and would still have to break through any encryption. I've done similar for warrants on shared servers hundreds of times. Performing some digging related to servicing these I've found child porn etc hiding behind rather boring looking fronts.

As this article is published (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44344793)

As this article is published, Ashdown sees... a cloud forming outside his window. Checking to see if it will rain, he sees a group of black helicopters silently approaching his house. They land and a group of heavily armed agents surround the place including the doors, windows, balconies and roof. He experiences a power failure, and on attempting to call the power company, he finds the phone dead. The cell phone is also giving zero bars, even though the tower is right across the street. Heard by his neighbours: " Hey who are you! What are you dong.... Ooowww! Hey tazers hurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrzzzzzzzzzzzzzzttttttttttttt

NSA equipment: rent space? charge for electricity? (5, Informative)

crow (16139) | about a year ago | (#44344797)

You may be required to cooperate with their investigation, but space in a data center is not free, and the electricity certainly isn't, either. If they're taking what's yours, they should pay fair market value, and that includes space, power, cooling, and such.

Re:NSA equipment: rent space? charge for electrici (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44345001)

If you had read the article you'd notice that getting paid is an option. He wasn't interested, he wanted their shit out of data center ASAP.

Re:NSA equipment: rent space? charge for electrici (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44345081)

Maybe you need a datacenter with 380V plugs only. Also, they should connect their equipment.

Re:NSA equipment: rent space? charge for electrici (4, Informative)

sirsnork (530512) | about a year ago | (#44345195)

As is described in the article, they will happily pay that. However this particular ISP was against profiting in any way from monitoring their customer

Re:NSA equipment: rent space? charge for electrici (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#44345499)

I've not gotten a FISA, but for FBI wiretaps, they *do* pay you. Or were you just guessing without having even trying to determine the answer? Someone else even said TFA says they were offered payment.

Re:NSA equipment: rent space? charge for electrici (3, Insightful)

Rigel47 (2991727) | about a year ago | (#44345641)

Indeed, what is the fair market value for smearing excrement on the Constitution? $50/month?

stand up (2)

Xicor (2738029) | about a year ago | (#44344821)

it is about time for companies to start standing against the NSA. as long as what they do keeps being a secret to the population, we will never be able to get a lawsuit in front of the supreme court. companies need to stand up enmasse and say screw the NSA. then, when they start getting sanctions and stuff for standing against the NSA, they start a class action lawsuit against the american government. at this point, they will get infront of the supreme court eventually and we might actually get our rights back.

Re:stand up (4, Insightful)

jbolden (176878) | about a year ago | (#44344887)

That could also be read as a widespread conspiracy involving multiple companies to coordinate to commit felonies. The problem is the American people, have until recently been strongly supportive of this nonsense. The companies can't stand up to it until they know for sure a jury will never convict and they can't know that yet.

Re:stand up (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#44345585)

That could also be read as a widespread conspiracy involving multiple companies to coordinate to commit felonies.

No.

Re:stand up (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about a year ago | (#44345321)

What would the claims be in the law suit? The NSA has not broken any laws any using FISA warrants. It is the same as POTS companies having to cooperate with wire taps.

Re:stand up (1)

Bengie (1121981) | about a year ago | (#44345719)

The problem isn't warrants, it's the lack of warrants.

One of the problems for the Big providers (1)

stox (131684) | about a year ago | (#44344833)

is that the government is typically their single largest customer. Kind of tough to risk that much revenue.

Not defending the big providers, but admitting to reality.

Legitimate order or not . . . ? (4, Interesting)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about a year ago | (#44344847)

So, in TFA he said he was not allowed to make a copy of the order, but just take some notes about it. His attorney said it was legitimate . . . how?

I mean, you can't take a copy yourself to a secret court to ask them if they authorized it. You could call up a number that they give you, but what does that prove? And the whole damn thing is supposed to be secret, so that nobody knows nothing anyway.

Does anyone know how this works?

Re:Legitimate order or not . . . ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44345255)

Perfect use case for a stealthier version of Google Glasses.

Re:Legitimate order or not . . . ? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44345263)

Does anyone know how this works?

They're bigger than you. They have more money. They have more guns. They have, and will use a very real power to hurt you if you attempt to circumvent them in any way. In some ways, this sounds silly and trite, and also fails to address the fundamentals of the question you ask, but it's the actual, technical, answer. The particulars are of little to no importance, and are juggled around ad-hoc to preserve those minimal appearances that are deemed worthy of preservation.

Things are so far past "fucked up" at this point that it has become a historical issue, and historical issues move at historical paces (usually glacial, but not always) and operate at historical force levels.

I do not want to be around to see how this plays out in the end.

Re:Legitimate order or not . . . ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44345395)

Maybe he wants to know how this would prevent any random guy from a foreign intelligence agency walk into your data center with a fake FISA letter and install surveillance equipment. The answer is probably:not at all.

Re:Legitimate order or not . . . ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44345713)

In every such company there is at least one person with security clearance that has means and is responsible for checking these orders and applying them under provisions of secret laws that apply only to them. Sysadmins, CxO, etc. are excepted from this process (unless they have security clearance themselves). By design the networks allow interception without the knowledge of their owners or operators. Tinkering with the lawful intercept system is unlawful intercept according to the public law.

Re:Legitimate order or not . . . ? (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about a year ago | (#44345383)

Its not legitimate, its merely allowed. Under no interpretation of the Constitution are secret courts allowed.

Re:Legitimate order or not . . . ? (1, Interesting)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#44345633)

US Constitution, Article. III. Section. 1.:
"The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish...."

Congress established the FISA court by law.

The FISA court isn't a secret court, it is a court that handles secrets. In either case it looks like Congress can create such courts as it see fit.

Re:Legitimate order or not . . . ? (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about a year ago | (#44345727)

Once they started issuing broad gag orders and rubber stamping everything with no opposing side representing the People, it became a secret court. You can argue its legal until you are blue in the face, its wrong, and you dont need a law degree to see it.

Re:Legitimate order or not . . . ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44345737)

Courts are not secret - their proceedings are. And sometimes the classified proofs are not accessible to the defendant or its lawyers (unless they have security clearaance that will land them in jail if they talk).

Re:Legitimate order or not . . . ? (4, Informative)

mosb1000 (710161) | about a year ago | (#44345389)

Does anyone know how this works?

You do what they say, or else they come shoot you and plant drugs on your body.

Re:Legitimate order or not . . . ? (2)

FuzzNugget (2840687) | about a year ago | (#44345501)

Does anyone know how this works?

Of course not, that's the point.

So how come he's writing about it now? (1)

nbauman (624611) | about a year ago | (#44344851)

I don't understand this article clearly. If he's not allowed to refer to it, why is he writing about it now? Did the gag order expire?

I see from the Guardian article that he ran for Senate in Utah, but lost to Orren Hatch. Too bad.

Re:So how come he's writing about it now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44344919)

Actually, he lost in the primary so he never got a chance to run against Hatch. A pity because I was seriously considering voting for him.

Re:So how come he's writing about it now? (1)

sharpone (706018) | about a year ago | (#44345645)

He ran twice. The first time (2006), he lost to Hatch in the general election. The second time (2012) he didn't make it out of the Democratic convention to run against Hatch.

Secret laws enforced by secret courts (4, Insightful)

jbolden (176878) | about a year ago | (#44344865)

He is absolutely right that we shouldn't have secret courts issuing secret laws. Temporary gag orders are fine but they should expire rapidly and then what happened be subject to public scrutiny. Faretta v. California talked about how many of our laws for trial procedure and rights in the constitution evolved from a reaction against the Star Chamber. The core idea of the Star Chamber was secrecy to deal with defendants who were too powerful to be tried openly for fear the the realm could not control the impact, and we have decided to replicate this in full.

Re:Secret laws enforced by secret courts (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44345431)

He is absolutely right that we shouldn't have secret courts issuing secret laws. Temporary gag orders are fine but they should expire rapidly and then what happened be subject to public scrutiny. Faretta v. California talked about how many of our laws for trial procedure and rights in the constitution evolved from a reaction against the Star Chamber. The core idea of the Star Chamber was secrecy to deal with defendants who were too powerful to be tried openly for fear the the realm could not control the impact, and we have decided to replicate this in full.

This is a very good point. www.socialbox.ro

Re:Secret laws enforced by secret courts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44345593)

You seem to forget that Barack Obama is related to either Richard (Suck My Dick) Cheney or George (The US Constitution is a Worthless Piece of Paper) Bush. The African-American population in the United States of Amerika have been sold-out to the plantation owners by "one of their own".

Re:Secret laws enforced by secret courts (0)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#44345649)

The core idea of the Star Chamber was secrecy to deal with defendants who were too powerful to be tried openly for fear the the realm could not control the impact, and we have decided to replicate this in full.

Actually no, the US hasn't replicated the Star Chamber. The Star Chamber conducted actual trials to determine guilt and punishment. The FISA court mainly deals with warrants and conducts no trials of suspects.

Glad I live in Canada! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44344875)

There are not stupid forced gag orders in Canada. If some government official asks to install unknown equipment on a private companies network, the company can effectively say "go fuck yourself", and the courts will back the company.

That's not to say it doesn't happen because of corruption and bribes and general shadiness with all the big ISPs, but it's not universal among companies, and no can force small ISPs to comply.

Fuck America is screwed up.

Re:Glad I live in Canada! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44345065)

Oh, you're so very stupid.

Re:Glad I live in Canada! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44345249)

kill yourself

Re:Glad I live in Canada! (2)

ubrgeek (679399) | about a year ago | (#44345461)

> "go fuck yourself"

More likely, "Go fuck yourself, eh?"

Actually, they can (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44344931)

These programs that violate the Bill of Rights can continue because people can't go out and say, This my experience, this is what happened to me, and I don't think it is right.' I

Actually, they can. The British were within their legal right to tax the Colonies. The NSA isn't even within that right. What he really means to say is more like, "I don't think I have enough friends to start a revolution and form a stable 2nd Republic yet".

Brave guy. Stupid, but brave (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44344995)

He will get made an example of if he pushes this any further. Or his business will suffer 'inconveniences'.

Misreading the title... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44345011)

Was I the only one who misread the title as "When the NSA Shows Up As Your Internet Company"?

Go outside US jurisdiction? (1)

Enigmafan (263737) | about a year ago | (#44345059)

I always wondered, if people are not allowed to talk about this stuff, can't they just go to Mexico and tell people there?

Where exactly is 'outside US jurisdiction' now? (4, Insightful)

rts008 (812749) | about a year ago | (#44345197)

Ask Eric Snowden, I hear he has some experience with this very thing.

The ONLY reason Snowden is not a resident of GITMO, is the US can't invade Moscow Airport.
If he was in a less powerful country, like Panama, for example, he would already be in custody.

...can't they just go to Mexico and tell people there?

Times have changed somewhat, Butch Cassidy....Mexico, or Canada, are no longer safe havens to escape the US.

Re:Where exactly is 'outside US jurisdiction' now? (3, Interesting)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#44345583)

There's a reason why Assange is cowering inside the embassy in London. If the US invades, Venezuela will stop selling oil to the US and there'll be a War of the Americas where the privileged North tries to impose their will on the South, and the war between the North and South will commence. Assange living openly in the UK would likely get an extradition request. There are suggestions that Assange in Sweden would be removed by the US without an extradition. But violating England and Ecuadorian sovereignty to grab him where he is would be an issue.

When's the last time someone *saw* Snowden? I never thought he was in Moscow. I initially thought he sent a dummy west because he had to change planes in Taipei, Sydney, Tokyo or some other place that there was a good chance of the US seiznig him before he got there. But if he's on a plane going west, it'd be easier to "sneak" east. He swapped passports with a look-alike and was in South America before his Cuba plane departed. They are delaying the disclosure of this as long as possible to cover his tracks, and tracks of those who helped him.

Intelligence (2, Insightful)

jklovanc (1603149) | about a year ago | (#44345299)

There is absolutely [a] need for secrecy when you are dealing with a criminal investigation. You don’t want to tip off criminals being monitored. But you can’t say, “You can never talk about this ever, for the rest of your life.”

The criminals may never know exactly how they were caught. Some of the tapped information may come out but the authorities may have enough other evidence derived from this tap not to reveal all their methods. The better criminals know how they are being monitored the better the criminals can avoid the monitoring.

As to being a benign web site, the actual site may have noting to do with the criminal activity. It may just be a transit point for communications between criminals and the authorities are after those communications.

As for the tap being on 9 months; there are criminal investigations that take years to gather enough information on enough people to take down an organization.

As for the Bill of Rights and the Fourth Amendment in particular;

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

By law A FISA warrant is a warrant and therefore the Amendment has not been violated. How exactly is the Fourth Amendment violated?

The FISA court should be a public court, and documents should be sealed for a set period of time, [to] let people audit the actions later.

I disagree. When one make public who and how someone else it being watched it it makes the suspects more difficult yo watch in the future. Maybe this investigation didn't gather enough for a conviction but the next one might. I may agree if the set period was 30 years or so but that is not what you seem to be talking about.

Re:Intelligence (3, Informative)

spire3661 (1038968) | about a year ago | (#44345399)

FISA court is incompatible with the Constitution. You CANNOT have secret courts in a democracy, it must and will end.

Re:Intelligence (0)

jklovanc (1603149) | about a year ago | (#44345527)

You CANNOT have secret courts in a democracy, it must and will end.

I know of no place where the US Constitution bars a secret court. As such your statement is an opinion. It is my opinion that counter espionage requires secrecy. If they know where you are looking spies and terrorists will just move to another server.

Re:Intelligence (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about a year ago | (#44345639)

You can have orders that remain a secret for a set amount of time in a regular court. You know, like when a police department gets a warrant for a wiretap on a particular phone line.

Re:Intelligence (1)

Arker (91948) | about a year ago | (#44345701)

The fourth amendment has specific requirements (probable cause, specificity about exactly what is to be searched) that the FISA 'warrants' dont typically appear to meet. The fourth amendment was written specifically to prohibit overbroad warrants - it ties the probable cause directly to a specification of what is to be seized, so that only things actually covered by the probable cause can be taken. That is fundamentally incompatible with the goverments 'grab everything' approach.

The bigger violation in relation to that particular star chamber, however, is probably that of the fifth amendment. The requirement for due process is completely incompatible with a secret court whose judgements are reached ex parte.

General Keith B. Alexander, USA (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44345307)

Is a coward little bitch.

I hope someone get's that fagot in a back-alley and rapes him. Preferably an enraged horny nigger who just got out prison and wants a hot little piece of white ass.

Fucking sociopathic fuckhead.

The first amendment trumps the gag order. (4, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | about a year ago | (#44345339)

Say whatever you want to say, and demand a jury trial if they want to punish you for it. The great lesson of the fall of the Soviet Empire is that the people outnumber the thugs, and the thugs' power depends entirely on the people's obedience.

-jcr

Previously: see Nicholas Merril (1)

hazeii (5702) | about a year ago | (#44345449)

Nicholas Merrill [wikipedia.org] stood up to this before, and even gave a talk at 27C3 [events.ccc.de] about it. It's seriously worth watching [youtube.com] .

Favourite quote? Paraphrased somewhat: "If I say something wrong about the gag order, I go to jail or 10 years; if those in power get it wrong in front of congress, they just say sorry."

...and also... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44345471)

...because people like Pete Ashdwon are pussies of the highest order - placing their own profit above civil liberties. Fuck this guy, he went along with it and didn't even bad an eye. He's just as guilty as the NSA.

They host cygwin distributions (1)

klui (457783) | about a year ago | (#44345533)

I recognized them because I use them for my cygwin distribution mirror.

NSA use cover stories (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44345547)

The NSA engage in TOTAL surveillance. When a smaller company arises with significant customer traffic that cannot be compromised elsewhere, the NSA (with assistance from other government agencies), fakes (although 'fake' isn't the right word, when the NSA is actually fully authorised by its particular 'star chamber') warrants and the like, and installs total surveillance equipment under the excuse of monitoring a given target.

The 'gagging' orders do some of the work, but if the owner of the company chooses to have too big a mouth, he/she will experience the usual 'very nasty accident' that leaves the person dead, or in prison for a long time.

For you sheeple that still don't get it- here's the clue. Think of your government as Al Capone (although, in reality, Capone would be a saint in comparison). Al Capone demands total control, and complete intelligence. He prefers to make arrangements with people, but if that proves impossible, or if lessons need to be taught, there is no limit to his potential anger.

When 'Al Capone' turns up, and under some laughable excuse states he needs to 'bug' your equipment, you say "Yes sir, fine sir". The more people that bend over, the more the reputation of 'Al Capone' grows, and the more people expect to bend over in the future.

Google and Microsoft do NOT bend over. Google is actually an R+D division of the NSA. Microsoft is a willing full blown partner. Bill Gates sits at the same table as 'Al Capone', and frequently suggests new ways for increasing surveillance of the sheeple.

The worse it gets, the worse it gets. You are talking about a system with full blown positive feedback. In the first instance, the elite never guessed the sheeple would be so willing to bend over and take what was proposed. The success of the TSA changed that attitude. If the American sheeple would put up with the TSA, they would accept ANYTHING.

The power of the NSA comes from a 'Star Chamber' (go do some Google research, you sheeple). 'Star Chambers' exist to be HIGHER than any written set of laws. 'Star Chambers' are careful to include representatives of all powerful groups, regardless of who the sheeple currently think they have elected. There must be no independent powerful dissent against the ruling or operation of 'Star Chambers'.

The justification the 'Star Chamber' system is always that the well-being of a nation is too important to leave to the vagaries of a political system that meets the current needs of the sheeple. The 'Star Chamber' system is supposed to ensure continuity regardless of the current figurehead stooges that the sheeple think are their current leaders. Sorry, you sheeple reading this, you can NEVER vote the power of the 'Star Chamber' out of office. You are allowed to passively empower your masters, of course, but you are never allowed to choose them.

What ordinary people CAN do is to say "enough is enough" when it comes to a total surveillance society. Your masters DEMAND total surveillance, but in truth it is still a luxury they can live without. In your own daily life fight against the wrongs. Reject the Xbox One and Google Glass. Insist your school and school district throw out Bill Gates' children database system - a system Gates hides under a shell company called inBloom, a name Gates chose because it is a pedophile pun (pedophiles refer to their child victims as innocent flowers in first bloom).

Voting doesn't work (not voting does work if the numbers voting fall low enough- forcing a change to the system). You cannot change things top down, no matter what those elite-serving media pundits scream at you in their "good citizens vote" campaigns. However YOU can change things bottom up. Be empowered in your own little world. Push back and encourage others to do the same.

Gag order (1)

Jeff Flanagan (2981883) | about a year ago | (#44345557)

I understand the need for gag orders so the person being investigated doesn't hear that they're being monitored, but they need to have a reasonable expiration date at which time all may be disclosed.

How this SHOULD play out... (3, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | about a year ago | (#44345627)

If we had a functioning justice system in this country, and a population fully aware of and prepared to defend our rights, this kind of thing would go like this:

"Hello, 911 emergency. What is your emergency?"

"Hi, I've just made a citizen's arrest. The perp came in here posing as a federal officer, but he couldn't even recite the oath when he was looking down the barrels of my shotgun." I disarmed him and hog-tied him. The press is on the way, could you send a deputy over here to pick him up, or should I bring him in to the jail?"

-jcr

Start by... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44345683)

Facilitating doesn't mean it needs to be free.

Charge them for:

1. Access to installations
2. Hours spend by your engineers
3. Make them sign a responsibility notice for any damage to your infrastructure
4. Electricity
5. Network access within your infrastructure

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