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Snowden Strikes Again: NSA Mapping Social Connections of US Citizens

Soulskill posted about 7 months ago | from the raise-your-hand-if-you-are-surprised dept.

United States 513

McGruber writes "The New York Times is reporting on yet another NSA revelation: for the last three years, the National Security Agency has been exploiting its huge collections of data to create sophisticated graphs of some Americans' social connections that can identify their associates, their locations at certain times, their traveling companions and other personal information. 'The agency can augment the communications data with material from public, commercial and other sources, including bank codes, insurance information, Facebook profiles, passenger manifests, voter registration rolls and GPS location information, as well as property records and unspecified tax data, according to the documents. They do not indicate any restrictions on the use of such "enrichment" data, and several former senior Obama administration officials said the agency drew on it for both Americans and foreigners.' In a memorandum, NSA analysts were 'told that they could trace the contacts of Americans as long as they cited a foreign intelligence justification.' 'That could include anything from ties to terrorism, weapons proliferation or international drug smuggling to spying on conversations of foreign politicians, business figures or activists. Analysts were warned to follow existing "minimization rules," which prohibit the NSA from sharing with other agencies names and other details of Americans whose communications are collected, unless they are necessary to understand foreign intelligence reports or there is evidence of a crime. The agency is required to obtain a warrant from the intelligence court to target a "U.S. person" — a citizen or legal resident — for actual eavesdropping.'"

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513 comments

yay (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44984769)

first

Re:yay (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44984787)

More importantly the more that leaks the more it confirms the craziest ideas the most paranoid have had for years, even a few years ago when there was an allegation of the nsa/similar inserting a backdoor in some commonly used crypto. the debate in the media was "how credible is the guy saying this?" rather than "look at the code, it is available". but crypto is hard, its super strong math, super good coding knowledge is needed to see how much of the math is being used to obfuscate too. i have been thinking for years they know too much, but its beyond my wildest dreams. for the first wave of documents, then the rebuttals, then disproof of the rebuttals via further documents...we can all safely assume they know more than even our most paranoid believe (other than schizophrenics, who think peoples eyes are cameras).

Re:yay (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44984867)

More importantly the more that leaks the more it confirms the craziest ideas the most paranoid have had for years, even a few years ago when there was an allegation of the nsa/similar inserting a backdoor in some commonly used crypto. the debate in the media was "how credible is the guy saying this?" rather than "look at the code, it is available". but crypto is hard, its super strong math, super good coding knowledge is needed to see how much of the math is being used to obfuscate too. i have been thinking for years they know too much, but its beyond my wildest dreams. for the first wave of documents, then the rebuttals, then disproof of the rebuttals via further documents...we can all safely assume they know more than even our most paranoid believe (other than schizophrenics, who think peoples eyes are cameras).

I understand what you are trying to say, but I think you should be careful how you word it. This isn't validation of crazy paranoia. I work in the security business and in general people here are not really surprised. Much of this was expected, some suspected and theorized (you know that Microsoft researches several years ago published about the exact crypto weakness people now are surprised about?), some has been a surprise. But it doesn't have anything to do with crazy paranoid conspiracy theorists now having any credibility. I've seen people now use Snowden as argument why we shouldn't dismiss chem-trail theories and moon landing being fake and whatnot. We really shouldn't lend credence to that.

Re:yay (2)

znrt (2424692) | about 7 months ago | (#44985027)

This isn't validation of crazy paranoia.

no, it's just that what a few knew and a bunch more of us suspected is now in the media. for what it's worth; you shouldn't expect much intelligent debate in the media anyway. however, now there's no valid excuse anymore for not wanting to know. that could be a good thing. it could also be bad because generalized opposiion could bring the elites to drop the masquerade and go full psycho.

you know that Microsoft researches several years ago published about the exact crypto weakness people now are surprised about?

source?

Re:yay (5, Insightful)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 7 months ago | (#44985289)

This isn't validation of crazy paranoia.

You're right. To be more precise, it's a validation that what many (most?) people thought was crazy paranoia, isn't, and wasn't. It's scary when people previously dismissed as tin foil hatters turned out to have been right. Other than the exact wording though, which I don't think matters that much since his intent was clear, the GP's point stands.

What surprises me is not that this is being done, but the massive scale on which it's being done. It's no secret that, for example, the FBI bugged the rooms and tapped the phones of MLK. It's revolting that that was done to someone who wasn't even the slightest threat to the United States (in fact I'd argue that he was, amongst other things, a true patriot for wanting to enforce the Constitution). But he was a high profile person, as were many of the others who were bugged. This is different though - it's everyone! That is a characteristic of a police state. Many people say "police state" is overused, but here it's appropriate. This is the kind of crap that the KGB and the Stasi did. During the Cold War we rightly considered the United States superior because it didn't do that. Even after the revelations by the Church Committee about the extensive bugging, it was still only a few high profile people. We didn't have an army of spooks looking up everyone's butt. Now we do, and the fact that it's in electronic form makes it worse, not better. Sometimes I miss the Cold War, because at least it gave us countries that we had to credibly claim we were better than. Now they don't give a damn.

Re:yay (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 7 months ago | (#44984901)

I think you haven't read the craziest paranoid conspiracy theories.

I don't think it confirms lizard men or shit like that.
it just confirms that hey, you have a spy organization with a per capita budget larger than STASI and THIS IS WHAT YOU GET FOR IT.

and peoples eyes are cameras... accessing the recorded memories by unauthorized personnel is a bit hard right now though.

Re:yay (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 7 months ago | (#44984961)

re is a bit hard right now though? Really?
The US gov got the plain text, video and sound from US brands over years, why would they not expect the same from *any* of the brands next gen products too?
What has changed? The brands are still selling products, the US laws are different now? The brands legal departments are still tame, offering nice PR reports on aspects of better backhaul encryption and numbers of requests by domestic police court orders.

Re:yay (0)

cold fjord (826450) | about 7 months ago | (#44985261)

When he writes, "is a bit hard right now" it looks to me like he is referring to people's memory. The intelligence agencies aren't able to read peoples memories, their thoughts, from inside their skull. We're still a long way from that, although there are a few steps in that direction.

Re:yay (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44985069)

i am the OP. i wasnt validating the crazy ideas, but i was implying that even though we find the craziest of the "reasonably crazy" are now probably vindicated, with more technology (asics + weakened crypto, future who-thefuckknows), even paranoid schizophrenics may be in fact correct.

Re:yay (1)

turbidostato (878842) | about 7 months ago | (#44985297)

"and peoples eyes are cameras... accessing the recorded memories by unauthorized personnel is a bit hard right now though."

That's what google glass is for.

The other shoe is about to drop... (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44985231)

The other shoe is about to drop in the form of "Why didn't you save my little girl from that pedophile?"

People are realizing that the government corruption (ordinary type), violent gangs, racketteering gangs, people cheating on taxes with overseas accounts, drug runners, drug gangs and novice terrorists were all KNOWN ABOUT THE WHOLE TIME.

Recent uptick in the oddball "trading child porn" people has got to be them releasing data on the most heinous cases.

At some point, someone is going to articulate all the ways our own government was complicit and knowningly allowing all kinds of crime to go on, some of which with real heart breaking stories for the victims.

Those folks better fucking worry real hard about another Snoweden releasing the personal information of the guys who know, or should have known about all of it. They had better clean up a lot of fucking crime real fucking fast or we'll be hearing stories of "yet another government 'office worker' dragged to death behind some redneck's truck" because the file showed the now dead pile of meat knew about 15 pedophile cases.

American Exceptionalism and Moral Superiority (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44984947)

Yes, I do! I find it quite amusing that America was schooled by Putin on exceptionalism.

For a country one who claims to boast its own national exceptionalism and moral superiority. Yet, forgets to mention they are the holders of the largest national debt known to man. If you ask me. I find this fact hardly exceptional or superior ... heck it's not even moral!

Re:American Exceptionalism and Moral Superiority (1, Insightful)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | about 7 months ago | (#44984995)

You'll have to excuse us, didn't you see the guy we elected's smile? Didn't you hear him recite someone else's speeches. He's so likable, he can do whatever he wants.

Go Team.. (5, Funny)

dubist (2893961) | about 7 months ago | (#44984777)

It just gets better and better..

Re:Go Team.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44984925)

So what if they're able to see who your friends are? If you're on all of the social media sites, then wtf do you expect? Someone can track it all, even if it's not the NSA. Is it better if Facebook/Twitter/Google+/Outlook does it?

So Obama lied again (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44984789)

He said Americans were not being spied upon by the NSA.

Re:So Obama lied again (5, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | about 7 months ago | (#44984821)

He said Americans were not being spied upon by the NSA.

that's because they're weasel wording with the definition of spying... in their mind spying just a little bit to know if there's dirt that's useful to spy a little more isn't actually spying.

"but it's ok since we don't share it with other agencies unless there's a crime!" is such fucking stasi bullshit.

Living Overseas? (5, Informative)

x_IamSpartacus_x (1232932) | about 7 months ago | (#44984823)

I'm an American and I live in a pretty undeveloped Southern African nation. I wonder how much of a profile the NSA is capable of building on me?
Upon arriving in the USA very recently my wife was flagged going through the mettle detector at IAD (she was carrying our 3 month old daughter so the TSA told her they had to do some extra checks since she had a baby in a sling, dafuq?). She spent the next 45 minutes getting checked, rechecked, patted down (enhanced pat down; under the waistband, hand up the legs until it meets "resistance", hands swiping breasts, etc.), having her carry-on bags checked and rechecked for bomb residue, all in the name of "You were carrying a baby in a sling".

I'm trying to be as honest and non-paranoid as possible in all of this. But these leaks from Snowden really do give rise to questions about how large my NSA profile has grown, simply because I live overseas.

Re:Living Overseas? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44984899)

Oh c'mon, we know that wasn't really a baby, it was an early model T2000 terminator (the "T" being for "Terrorist") being brought into the US for normalization to the environment it will eventually be released into to cause massive damage to our "exceptional" society.

Re:Living Overseas? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44985013)

my wife was flagged going through the mettle detector

Mettle detector - a device for checking the ability of someone to cope in a situation.
Metal detector - a device for detecting metals.

Be paranoid, you have been flagged for not consulting a dictionary.

Re:Living Overseas? (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 7 months ago | (#44985209)

The TSA needs to inconvenience people do they feel safe. If the passangers weren't made to feel like criminals getting on the plane, they wouldn't feel confident in the security measures.

The bomb detectors are a real bane for anyone in the agricultural sector. They key on ammonium nitrate, the high explosive also used as a fertiliser - so if you've been walking through a field fertilised with the industrialised world's most commonly-used fertiliser, you set of the chemical bomb residue detector.

Re:So Obama lied again (2)

jaygridley (1016588) | about 7 months ago | (#44984837)

When doesn't Obama lie at this point?

Re:So Obama lied again (3, Insightful)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | about 7 months ago | (#44984881)

Well, to be fair, his surrogates do most of the direct lying for him, he mainly deals in platitudes and equivocations.

Re:So Obama lied again (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44984989)

Do you think Romney would have told the truth and revealed the complete extent of NSA spying? If he did own up and admit to the NSA spying you republican trolls will counter that he is a traitor for revealing American national security secrets. Obama will get damned by you guys any choice he makes.

Re: So Obama lied again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44985085)

You're correct. Obama is no more or less bad than Romney would have been. It's refreshing to see someone like you acknowledge the truth.

Re:So Obama lied again (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 7 months ago | (#44985257)

When doesn't ANY politician lie? You think Romney wouldn't have gone along with this?

Re:So Obama lied again (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44984905)

Spying is illegal activities by America's enemies; the NSA is engaging in lawful intelligence operations.
Using Obama's dictionary you'll see he hasn't lied even once in his life.

Re:So Obama lied again (1)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | about 7 months ago | (#44984977)

Look back to virtually every speech he made during his first campaign about Bush's foreign policy, and then he gets in office and resumes virtually every single aspect of it. The guy is a duplicitous snake.

Re:So Obama lied again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44985139)

Sigh. You teabaggers or neo-cons are just getting old.

Re: So Obama lied again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44985219)

Sigh. You liberal, true believers are also not making things any better, are you?

Re:So Obama lied again (4, Informative)

fastest fascist (1086001) | about 7 months ago | (#44985049)

It seems when they say the NSA doesn't look into what Americans do, they mean no human has access without proper authorization. From TFA, a quote from an NSA spokeswoman: “All data queries must include a foreign intelligence justification, period."

Now, that's nice. Let's assume for a moment that's true - that's not saying anything about automatic collection of data, about computer analysis of such data, about how long data can be kept etc. "No-one is listening to your calls" is a complete red herring. It would be better if their methodology were based on purely human-conducted surveillance. That kind of work is expensive, and therefore must have a limited scope. What is apparently being built now is much worse than having some person listening to people's calls.

Everything we're being told is going on now just reeks of the Total Information Awareness programs which were, to some extent, supposedly discontinued. The goal seems to be the same - make it cheap enough to have total surveillance capability of everything anyone does. You can't do that with humans, but if you manage to build a computer system broad and smart enough, you can do a whole lot more. Humans aren't being phased out of the process because they present a larger risk to the population being monitored - they're just too expensive.

Fortunately, automated intel data analysis is still a very tough problem, but it seems clear a lot of work is being done to "improve" things in that field. That's not good news, it's bad news. Less human involvement in this context means less legal oversight and greater overall capabilities. You can't jail a computer system.

Re:So Obama lied again (2)

turbidostato (878842) | about 7 months ago | (#44985131)

"automated intel data analysis is still a very tough problem"

Well, they surely are looking into AMD and ARM proposals too.

Re: So Obama lied again (1)

Ronin Developer (67677) | about 7 months ago | (#44985053)

It isn't spying if the data and records are an almogmation of publicly available data or data which can be bought from corporations.

Listening in on phone conversations or opening your mail is spying. Why do you think the closed phone booth went away starting in the 1970's? They allowed conversations to be considered private. If you are using a public phone today, you side of the conversation is public. If the volume is loud enough, so is the other side. This was started in a crack down against organized crime.

So, end result, if you like to walk around with your phone on speaker, you have given up your privacy. If you use a phone that is connected to your car stereo for sound...I can probably hear your conversation -both sides-often several cars back.

Something to keep in mind.

People don't care because they're too stupid (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44984805)

Unfortunately people just don't seem to care. They say "oh, that's terrible!" and that's the end of the discussion. While they may say it's terrible, they do absolutely nothing about it and just let it be and anyone that tries to do anything about it gets pushed as the enemy. The majority of American citizens voted for this behavior, and the majority of the American citizens support this behavior whether they willingly acknowledge this or not. If they don't support it then they should do something about it, even if it's just writing to their state representatives or something of the sort. Believe it or not, a lot of congress don't even believe this is going on or even know it's happening. They do whatever their advisers tell them to do and they learn about the things their advisers tell them about. Confronting them is the first step to changing the country into something better. You may not believe that congress will listen but this is politics and when people get angry they will listen.

Re:People don't care because they're too stupid (3, Interesting)

Infestedkudzu (2557914) | about 7 months ago | (#44984893)

modern rebellion is only done in 2 ways. 1. stop spending 2. stop working. guns would be ineffective and 'protests' as they are known today are just silly. so logically what is the point at which a critical mass of people will stop spending or working?

Re:People don't care because they're too stupid (4, Insightful)

BlueStrat (756137) | about 7 months ago | (#44985111)

modern rebellion is only done in 2 ways. 1. stop spending 2. stop working. guns would be ineffective...

Guns, lots of guns, are one of the biggest reasons behind what is currently dissuading the government from just saying "screw it", and going full martial-law/internment camp/mass graves/brutal tyranny. Civilian guns are a strong disincentive against widespread domestic use of government armed force against the population by making it a very very costly and, like occupying/pacifying Afghanistan, likely in reality to be an impossible goal to achieve or maintain for any meaningful length of time.

One significant "tell" is that all the politicians seem to be talking about lately is regulating/restricting/banning medium and long range semi-automatic rifles that history shows are used in so very few crimes it's ridiculous, not so much handguns. Handguns are not nearly as effective against a military or para-military occupation/pacification force as are rifles.

Guns, lots of guns, would be one of the biggest reasons the government would not simply immediately imprison/kill all those organizing, promoting, and/or participating in your "stop working and stop spending" plan.

Strat

Re:People don't care because they're too stupid (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 7 months ago | (#44984957)

Show us the way. Oh, you won't be doing that? My, my.

Re:People don't care because they're too stupid (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44985163)

How about you stand up and do it yourself, it's your country, not mine. You speak all high and mighty and don't really grasp the reality of your situation. We have fought our rebellions here, and citizens know when it's time to stand up en masse and it wasn't too long ago since the last one. Americans however have grown up with a few generations of pussification and it will not stand up to defend itself. Why? Look around you, and look at the people you call liberals. They blindly are taking away your rights to everything and they spread the concept that anything else is backwards and barbaric. Soon, the government will be allowed to go in your homes, and take your guns away and if you put up a fight or simply say no, they will kill you. The point between being able to rebel and no longer having the power to do so is coming close. It's your choice on where you want your country to go to and your constitution allows you to stand up in arms against tyranny. Just how long will you wait and pass it off to the next person?

What I was saying had less to do about people caring but actually acting up against the things they disagree with. There's Democracy in a Republic but yet its citizens refuse to use it and then complain when it's being taken away. The only people to blame is people like yourself that says "Show us the way. Oh, you won't be doing that? My, my." Well, I just did, and you won't be doing anything about it even though I have shown you the paths that you can choose to take. When your beloved country betrays you, you will wonder what happened and sulk in regret that you've done nothing.

Re:People don't care because they're too stupid (4, Interesting)

AHuxley (892839) | about 7 months ago | (#44985063)

The world will just encrypt around a "digital" East Germany. The drones, uniforms, constant surveillance, expensive contractors, searches, expanding budgets, brand name cooperation are all as easy to see as a Berlin Wall.

Re:People don't care because they're too stupid (5, Interesting)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about 7 months ago | (#44985073)

While I am a bit cynical myself, I'd have to disagree with the statement that no-one care about all of this. Despite the mainstream media's systemic attempts to bury this story, the NSA revelations are a sledgehammer slowly pounding at the complacent foundations of the free internet. This issue is simply too huge to go away.

The NSA is literally turning into an Orwellian Ministry of Information. It has commandeered the internet, and is strong-arming American companies into doing its bidding, regardless of the effect on their or their customers rights or freedoms, and regardless of the effect on America's reputation for free speech and free enterprise.

It might be easy to ignore each individual blow of revelation, but when a big pillar crumbles, it becomes a little difficult to look away or hide the growing sense of dread. The closure of Lavabit and Silent Circle was a body blow to the notion of free speech and free enterprise on the US internet.

A lot of people probably felt that the likes of Facebook, Google, MS, would be locked down first, with the creep moving down the chain to email providers, independent sites, and finally, in extremis, to small independent secure email service providers. Instead this has been turned on its head; the independent man, in business for himself, was the first pin to fall. The message is clear: You cannot set up a website, email service, or any other internet business in the United States without the prior and/or post-facto approval of the National Security Agency.

A dream is dying. People like yourself escape through cynicism. Others escape through denial, or fantasy. But the reality is we are living in a nightmare, surrounded by a growing sense of dread in a global spy and surveillance network that has spiralled out of all reasonable proportion and probably control.

The NSA is turning the internet into at best a panopticon, and at worst a prison for our whole society. They have slowly built a fortress of concrete, wire, and guard-towers around the free web. Edward Snowden is outside, slowly pounding on the wall, hoping some of those inside will hear enough to notice that they need to find a way to break out, to stop the construction before it's too late.

I think he's succeeding. As cynical as I am, I think that as the revelations continue, more people are starting to wake up to the reality of the nightmare that the NSA was trying to create while they slept. We need an internet that is encrypted, anonymous, and decentralised by default; And Mr. Snowden's sledgehammer may be inspiring a new generation of hackers to finally create it.

Re:People don't care because they're too stupid (2)

AHuxley (892839) | about 7 months ago | (#44985151)

Re The NSA is turning the internet into at best a panopticon, and at worst a prison for our whole society.
The need to keep the 1950-90's panopticon secret is now over. The next step, decades of domestic 'lock box' data for use in open court depending on any political whim.

Re:People don't care because they're too stupid (1, Informative)

mcgrew (92797) | about 7 months ago | (#44985169)

They say "oh, that's terrible!" and that's the end of the discussion. While they may say it's terrible, they do absolutely nothing about it and just let it be

Yeah? What are YOU doing about it, AC? Some of us have the guts to put our real names out there and protest this (yes, McGrew is my real name). Who are you, coward?

The majority of American citizens voted for this behavior

Bullshit. If either one of the Demublican candidates for the last Presidential election had campaigned on the "we're going to spy on Americans" platform he'd have lost in a landslide.

You are so right! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44985173)

The majority of American citizens voted for this behavior, and the majority of the American citizens support this behavior whether they willingly acknowledge this or not.

You are so right! Mea Culpa!

I know it, during the last few Presidential elections and the debates, it was brought up in the debates - and each went at it about spying and NSA. They were so up front about what the government does and what they allow! And the Media was right there asking those tough questions and I just ignored them!

I tell you! The next Presidential election I'll put their feet to the fire! And I'm sure Fox News will be right there - after they get over the Benghazi outrage, Obama Care, the War on Christmas and all of those other really pressing issues!!

Re:People don't care because they're too stupid (4, Insightful)

sleigher (961421) | about 7 months ago | (#44985201)

I think many of you on this site need to study the trading with the enemy act. Look at Bradley Manning. He is charged with aiding the enemy. Who was he actually helping? We the people. Who is the enemy again?

As for getting angry and bitching. That hasn't worked and isn't going to work. Fire and bullets work. Just ask Thomas Jefferson...

Re:People don't care because they're too stupid (0)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 7 months ago | (#44985217)

That's a consequence of a widespread and accurate cynicism: What exactly do you propose to do about it? There is nothing you or I could do that would make any significant difference.

In Soviet USA (1)

HansKloss (665474) | about 7 months ago | (#44984807)

Is there anything that can surprise us?

Re:In Soviet USA (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44984885)

Yes.

It will surprise us when somebody actually does something about it.

Re:In Soviet USA (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 7 months ago | (#44985003)

In Soviet USA your new Zil limousine is stuck in slow traffic, your car phone codec is of low quality and you only have one over subscribed cell network to subscribe to.
The good news is now know your know calls are been transcribed by more than one country.

news media has lost interest? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44984809)

For the last several Snowden disclosures, there was barely a mention on many of the major outlets such as CNN, whereas the earlier announcements made the primary CNN site headlines. Similar for NPR. As I write this, I don't see a single mention on cnn.com of this story.

It seems that the public and the media has moved on, and no longer cares. It's the "new normal" that we are all spied on all the time. The chance for outrage and change has passed. No one will be held accountable, no government officials who stood up in front of the entire country and lied will be held responsible. Much like a lot of other tech issues, it has degenerated into one of those things that causes some nerd-rage but the general public doesn't really care about.

Re:news media has lost interest? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44984923)

you mean you still bother with lizard controlled media? get a grip and stop watching that crap.

Re:news media has lost interest? (4, Insightful)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | about 7 months ago | (#44985039)

Who says the general public doesn't care about it?

Polling shows that even back in July the US public knew the NSA was lying and disapprove of what's happening by 2:1 [yougov.com].

But what can be done? "Outrage" doesn't achieve anything. It became abundantly clear the moment senior members of the military were caught lying and nothing was done, that what the public think doesn't matter. So why should the public make a fuss? Waste of energy.

CNN and the likes are just reflecting the fact that the general story is by now well known and not news. The NSA lies and is totally out of control. It does everything the most paranoid people ever imagined, and more. OK. Got it. Next story.

But make no mistake. The right people are still paying attention. Behind the scenes there's a lot going on in a lot of places. All kinds of people who previously would not have included government agencies in their threat models are now starting to do so. Change will take years, perhaps decades, and enormous amounts of technical talent is going to be wasted fighting the US government by trying to blind it with more effective encryption. Success is by no means guaranteed. But without a doubt those members of the general public who have the ability to take part in that are still paying attention.

Re:news media has lost interest? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44985081)

Speaking of things not being covered in the news, has anyone heard a follow-up on that government employee who was flying out of HK when he claimed that the CIA/FBI was trying to assassinate him for his knowledge of something related to the Snowden incident? I think it was in June. Not sure if he was crazy or not, but that story gave me chills. AFAIK they never released his name or said anything about who he was or why he was in HK, and he was immediately taken "into custody" upon landing without any more info.

Re:news media has lost interest? (3, Insightful)

LostMonk (1839248) | about 7 months ago | (#44985099)

Wait and see.
Wait until non-american companies exploit the current distrust and offer alternate services to american internet companies and the for the big boys too start loosing money... You'll see some changes then.

Re:news media has lost interest? (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about 7 months ago | (#44985107)

I've mentioned this in another comment, but despite the media's earnest efforts to bury the NSA story, it's simply too huge to go away. I mostly wanted to respond to this

It seems that the public and the media has moved on, and no longer cares. It's the "new normal" that we are all spied on all the time.

I dont think this is the case. As the revelations have continued, new polls have shown that more and more people are becoming concerned about the size and power of the NSA, and the extent of its spying program. This issue is refusing to fade into obscurity, even without media support. The disquiet is growing beyond the tech community and becoming mainstream. We could be looking at the growth of a popular issue as big as property taxes, or the environmental movement.

Re:news media has lost interest? (5, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 7 months ago | (#44985141)

The media does what they're told. Do you think that the NSA has the ability to force Google ($292B), Apple ($438B) and Microsoft ($277B) but they don't have any control over turner broadcasting ($60B) or NPR who is partially funded by the government?

All they have to do is monitor a couple of CEOs internet connections and wait for them to look up something embarrassing. Tada! The NSA controls the news.

Re:news media has lost interest? (4, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | about 7 months ago | (#44985233)

As I write this, I don't see a single mention on cnn.com of this story.

As if CNN is the only news outlet.
In our opinion: Make the NSA accountable [deseretnews.com]
NSA maps some Americans' social connections, says report [cnet.com]
N.S.A. Gathers Data on Social Connections of U.S. Citizens [nytimes.com]

I first heard about it on Good Morning America this morning. It was an AP story. [go.com] Getting your news from a single source isn't very smart.

Re:news media has lost interest? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44985281)

You're missing the point. MOST people in the US get their news from just a tiny number of sources, and CNN is one of if not the biggest. Until it's reported there in a major way (not a buried 3rd-tier headline), it hasn't happened as far as most Americans are concerned.

Paranoia is dwarfed by the truth (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44984811)

After the first few leaks by snowden, we thought "holy shit". but then we got some rebuttals by the nsa/us govt in general, and then more snowden leaks showing that in fact the rebuttals were false statements, etc. even the most paranoid among us were wrong. the scope is still bigger than non-schizophrenics thought possible. Remember a year or 2 ago when there was a claim that the NSA/USGovt had backdoored a widely used crypto? the response was "this guy is either a liar or crazy. how credible is he?" even though the spec for the crypto is public, rather than sling mud, look at the code. i know its hard, very complicated math, easy to obfuscate in code. etc. but if it was the same as the snowden leaks have pointed to, we could have known this back then if people didnt just be mudslingers and spent time investigating rather than whining about it.

Facebook 2.0 (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44984815)

Looks like Facebook could have competition.

If only the US Govenment would put a nice web interface on the front end.

Re:Facebook 2.0 (1)

Phrogman (80473) | about 7 months ago | (#44984891)

Well they have put a nice web interface on the front end, but its only for NSA internal use :P

American Pride (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44984817)

Of course this is what the people of this country WANT. Wars over spending bills that threaten to shut the government down.
They are too stupid to overthrow the government by voting in commoners or with force.

Great! Can we have a copy? (5, Insightful)

Phoenix666 (184391) | about 7 months ago | (#44984829)

I think it would be useful for the American citizenry to have a copy of this data so that we can know exactly who the NSA employees are, who they know, what they're doing, and where they are at all times. Also the heads of JP Morgan, Citibank, Halliburton, etc, and all the shadowy 1% who are implementing this police state.

Oh, it's only for informational purposes, you know. Not like we would act on any of that information.

Seriously, do these people think these tools can't be turned on them? Americans have grown pretty fat and lazy but we are still a relatively heavily armed people, and you can't exactly go around ordering F-15s to drop napalm on suburban Cleveland. That is, the troubles the US Army has had suppressing IEDs and small arms fire in Afghanistan and Iraq multiply exponentially when you're turning your artillery on the friends and families of the very people you count on to manufacture your ammo, grow your food, and ship it to your butt.

So go ahead, totalitarian fantasists, keep turning the weaponry and spying machinery on the very people you count on to make your activities possible. See how that turns out. ***Spoilers ahead*** It ends with you swinging for lampposts or torn limb from limb by angry mobs.

Re:Great! Can we have a copy? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44984969)

I liked the part where you blamed corporations and forgot to mention Obama who is the one ordering all of this. Its nice to see people wanting to give a pass to those in power actually doing this and using the "crisis" as an opportunity to punish people not involved because you don't like them.

For the rest of you, this is why it isn't fixed. As long as Obama and his buddies keep doing this, his political enemies get blamed for more and more of it. If I were him I would keep cranking it up until the general attitude switched to I was doing something wrong. As long as companies like JP Morgan get blamed, and I would be able to punish them and fine them for more government revenue, I would keep doing it more and more (there is a current "investigation" into JP Morgan and bad things they did, or better yet bad things banks that the government forced them to buy before they were bought because JP Morgan has money to take).

Congratulations, YOU are the problem and the reason it is still going on.

Re:Great! Can we have a copy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44985007)

Could you please rewrite your post so that it's at least coherent? I find it very hard to understand what you're saying, given that your unspoken assumptions are so non-standard that I can't be sure which ideas informed the thoughts that you tried to put to the forum..

Re:Great! Can we have a copy? (4, Insightful)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 7 months ago | (#44985227)

Obama isn't the one who started all this - he is just the one who is refusing to stop it. There's lots of blame to go around here, no need to pile it all on one person.

Because they're the servants, not the masters (4, Insightful)

Phoenix666 (184391) | about 7 months ago | (#44985239)

These programs didn't start under Obama. Echelon has been going for decades. Cheney and Bush had the Total Information Awareness program. So the reason I don't blame Obama exclusively is because both Republicans and Democrats are doing it at the command of the same masters, the corporations and the .01% who run them. It's out in the open now--much of this spying that Snowden has revealed was industrial espionage. Focusing ire on the party(ies) in charge in DC is a dodge, a convenient lightening rod for the powers-that-be to draw the popular anger that has historically hung people like them from trees and beheaded them. Every once in a while you throw one of your cannon fodd...er, Congressmen and Presidents to the wolves, Joe Sixpack grunts with clueless satisfaction, cracks open another beer, and puts the game back on; and you can get back to the business of robbing his pension fund blind under the cover of law.

To stop being part of the problem and part of the solution, we all have to stop pretending that the political process makes any difference or that there's such a thing as the rule of law; they have been entirely subverted and the American people will have to get about the messy business of re-asserting popular sovereignity and bringing the criminals and sociopaths who brought this about to justice. It sucks and I don't want to have to do it either, but it's our duty to our children to not condemn them to live in slavery.

Re:Great! Can we have a copy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44985043)

Every skilled person on earth right now should have the same one goal: breaching NSA's databases and spread a torrent of that shit over the interwebs for everyone to see. Cause outrage among people in power by getting them naked.

Re:Great! Can we have a copy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44985185)

How do you plan to transfer the petabytes? What is the plan for storrage?

Re:Great! Can we have a copy? (2)

auric_dude (610172) | about 7 months ago | (#44985153)

Why not start with a trip over to http://cryptome.org/ [cryptome.org] then look at http://cryptome.org/2013/09/senate-pk.htm [cryptome.org] http://cryptome.org/2013/09/nsa-pk.htm [cryptome.org] http://cryptome.org/2013/09/fbi-doj-pk.htm [cryptome.org] http://cryptome.org/2013/09/house-pk.htm [cryptome.org] http://cryptome.org/2013/09/uscourts-pk.htm [cryptome.org] and http://cryptome.org/2013/09/twitter-pk.htm [cryptome.org] and now seed both email content an headers with this publicly available information. Might well cause some names and addresses to be linked other names and addresses (be they two or three jumps away) that may raise a few eyebrows.

Re:Great! Can we have a copy? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44985175)

I don't think you really understand how totalitarian states come about. Having an armed citizenry has no influence AT ALL. And please don't cite the American Revolution as a counter example, because you know that revolution had nothing to do with liberty. It was merly a way for the colonists to MAINTAIN their privileges (that they had under british rule) only now without the british in the picture.
The second amendment WILL NOT PROTECT YOU either in a passive or active way against the government. The same way the constitution will not protect you. After all it is only a piece of paper. If the powers that be (Congress, the Supreme Court, the President) decide to ignore that paper you're fucked with or without your AK-47 by your side.

HAHA !! PUSSIES !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44984945)

Joined Facebook ?? Tweet ?? YOU GIVE THIS SHIT AWAY and cannot stop doing it !! Yet you whine like a little pussy because those entrusted to save your asses when the going gets tough purloins a fraction of this, and from a fraction of the few, and from the results does it pretty well. No, the paranoid towelies next door with their cooktop bombs did not make it on their list but give it time. Now get back to Twitter, get back to Facebook, and tell everybody you know and do not know exactly what it is you are doing, when, and where, and with whom !!

Yeah, WHY DO YOU NOT go to Russia then if you think that is the way things should be !! Right !! I did not think so !! Pussies !!

Re:HAHA !! PUSSIES !! (1)

turbidostato (878842) | about 7 months ago | (#44985183)

If that's what you really wanted to write down, why you just didn't!?

Jessep: You want answers?
Kaffee (Tom Cruise): I think I'm entitled to them.
Jessep: You want answers?
Kaffee: I want the truth!
Jessep: You can't handle the truth! Son, we live in a world that has walls. And those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that Santiago's death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives...You don't want the truth. Because deep down, in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall. You need me on that wall.
We use words like honor, code, loyalty...we use these words as the backbone to a life spent defending something. You use 'em as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it! I'd rather you just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand a post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you're entitled to!
Kaffee: Did you order the code red?
Jessep: (quietly) I did the job you sent me to do.
Kaffee: Did you order the code red?
Jessep: You're goddamn right I did!!

Been around since at least 1999 (1)

Ronin Developer (67677) | about 7 months ago | (#44984981)

The ability to link records of named associates was standard in law enforcement records management and case analysis tools. After 9/11/2001, an initiative was strted where those records were then shared using data sharing systems. In some cases, directed graphs could be constructed showing the relationships. Cops collected info regarding criminal incidents and ALL parties were in the names database.

  This information helped LE crack many cases as it provided a computerized way to link all those records - something that had to be done by hand and making phone calls. It improved LE capabilities tremendously. Yes, I worked on such systems.

What is new is the linkage to other repositories of information. Sort of like the Bourne Trilogy, I guess. That's the scary part.

Welcome to SkyNet.

Re:Been around since at least 1999 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44985195)

The police have been doing with people who have been arrested. The NSA is doing it on everyone.

Re:Been around since at least 1999 (4, Insightful)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 7 months ago | (#44985237)

Difference in scale. The LE database tracks known criminals and those associated with a crime. The NSA database just tracks *everyone* on the grounds that they may possibly be a suspect at some point in the future.

Re:Been around since at least 1999 (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 7 months ago | (#44985247)

The US has had this at a mil/gov level since about the late 1960's under ideas like the Community On-line Intelligence System.
PROMIS showed what networked law enforcement had in the 1970s and 80s.
http://consortiumnews.com/2013/07/11/prisms-controversial-forerunner/ [consortiumnews.com]
http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/04/18/patriot_games [foreignpolicy.com] was the hint at what could be done US wide.
Another scary part is telling the pubic about using a lock box for generations of calls.

This is what you get (3, Insightful)

MrKaos (858439) | about 7 months ago | (#44985015)

when you fear your government.

Re:This is what you get (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44985165)

Actually the US government also fear its people that's why they keep taps on them...

Re:This is what you get (2)

jovius (974690) | about 7 months ago | (#44985263)

Isn't this more the result from not fearing the government? The amicable facade is impenetrable, and surrogate victims plenty.

USA = TERRORISTS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44985019)

And terrorist in chief K.Alexander should be sent back to hell where it belongs, in a painful way.

The NSA should help the VA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44985033)

I mean, isn't the Schwarzchild-radius of the paper-files stored at the VA-offices reaching a critical limit where they could be considered a national threat due to singularity-creation?

Even More Reason to... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44985161)

Avoid Faicebook
Avoid Twitter
Pay Cash for everything
Use a phone that does not have GPS.
Encrypt everything
Use Burner phones

No Sir I have nothing to hide apart from my privacy.

Re:Even More Reason to... (4, Interesting)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 7 months ago | (#44985255)

Burner phones are getting hard. You can buy a phone second-hand for cash easily enough, but getting it on the cell network is trickier - even prepaid SIMs usually require a bank card for initial activation. It's a result of deliberate government pressure to eliminate untraceable cellphones - not for reasons of terrorism, but to make identifying drug traffickers and sellers easier.

Congrats to the NSA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44985249)

Oddly, they still have less capabilities than does foreign nations as well as Google, FaceBook, Linked-in, etc.

Can we all say it now: Obama sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44985253)

The dingaling pres has ushered in Big Bro like no other pres ever before. And to think America has to go to foreign countries to find tyrants and terrorist when they got their own elected.

data availability (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44985291)

Without attempt to excuse or justify the NSA, perhaps it should give us all pause to think about how many public sources are part of what they're doing. Just because it's a company we're giving all the information to doesn't mean it's private or well protected. Perhaps it's time for all of us to think about how we are willing to relate to the companies providing services to us.

Sadly, it's an unlikely thing to change (we all like "free" services after all, and privacy is a nebulous concern that's easy to waive away in each moment), but the fact that we are making all this information available means we shouldn't be surprised that people want to use it.

No Surprise (4, Informative)

Virtucon (127420) | about 7 months ago | (#44985295)

If you look at the roots of all of this it goes back to the 1979 Supreme Court Ruling in Smith vs. Maryland [wikipedia.org] where:

“A person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information he voluntarily turns over to third parties’’

The case centered around the installation of a pen register, which records phone numbers dialed in the phone company office. As all of the current press indicates the NSA and other Federal Agencies and Administrations to justify scooping up all of information they can. In 1979 it was difficult to trace phone calls because most of the local COs were analog and getting this kind of data meant installing devices, requiring court orders, anybody remember rotary dial? The 1979 ruling has therefore been applied now in our current era where this information is "at hand." Using this we can now see why the large Data Center in Utah is being built to collect the billions of Call Detail Records and other Internet IP data that the NSA can gobble up. Strangely enough the safeguards that protect a US citizen fall down suddenly if you have contact with a foreign country. Let's see, going on vacation to Europe this year? You're sucked into the system. Have friends or family members overseas? You're sucked into the system. Compound that over zealous approach to collection and the fact that they can save the data for up to 10 years for historical analysis and you have a huge storage problem. Now if you add it Network Graph Analysis, you'll be sucked in if your friends or family members have contacts with people in other countries. That means effectively everybody in US is on a graph somewhere and it's being used to create fake evidence chains against your fellow citizens. [disinfo.com] I'm not advocating crime or terrorism in any way but there has to be oversight of law enforcement in this nation, with the NSA scoping up everything they can you have a police state where evidence can be created out of thin air and you can't challenge it's authenticity.

The ramifications of this are staggering and I for one have been in touch with my congressman and written to both my Senators to voice my opposition to it but the only way to fix this is to end the two party stranglehold of our government that has allowed this to happen behind closed doors. The FISA court needs to be abolished and the NSA systems need to be dismantled. That won't happen when you have elected officials who don't fear the electorate and the only way that will change is to force our government to enact:

  • Term Limits. Stop allowing the same assholes who get re-elected over and over again from serving on these committees. Look at the Senate Intelligence Committee who has partial oversight of the NSA, how many members have changed over the past decade? [senate.gov] Despite Republicans or Democrats running the Senate, the players strangely enough remain the same. Fuck that and start electing people who have your interests at heart, not the defense industry!
  • Campaign finance reform. Washington politics runs on money, no money, no incentive for these fucktards to constantly get re-elected or to have the process corrupted by corporations and lobbying groups up on M street. Plus it will free up a lot of office space in DC.
  • Get off your lazy butts and vote! General Elections get shitty turnout, [gmu.edu] it's time we take back our nation and get this career politicians afraid of the electorate again. Stop voting on pure party lines too. Democrats and Republicans could give a shit about you, it's about them maintaining power and getting re-elected so wake up.
  • Stop Gerrymandering. Every 10 years we go through endless redistricting battles with lawsuits over redistricting [lls.edu] because the party in power wants to keep power. Have appointed officials with a set of strict rules draw up districts that stop the bullshit, including racial quotas to ensure we don't "disenfranchise" voters and apple picking areas where one party is stronger. Draw the districts along natural boundaries, streets, Government limits, city, county lines etc. and end the practice once and for all.
  • Write your representatives. Use E-Mail, use a stamp and the Post Office lord knows they could use the money but let them know you're not happy with the situation and that you vote! Keep on them and keep them honest. Look at their voting records and call them to account when they vote for any legislation that violates your rights.
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