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NSA Abandoned Project To Track Cell Phone Locations

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the turns-out-we're-all-really-boring dept.

Cellphones 70

barlevg writes "The Washington Post reports that NSA director Gen. Keith Alexander testified before the Senate about an experimental NSA program to track location data from cell phones in 2011, but abandoned it because it lacked 'the operational value' it needed. It was not made clear what 'operation value' they were seeking. Alexander said, 'the data collected were never available for intelligence analysis purposes.' He added, 'This may be something that is a future requirement for the country, but it is not right now because when we identify a number we can give that to the FBI, [who can a warrant for the data it needs]. That’s the reason we stopped in 2011.''"

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The real reason (4, Funny)

barlevg (2111272) | about a year ago | (#45019467)

If it's anything like location data in Twitter, the reason they probably stopped is because the majority of location-tagged information exchanges from cell phones are made by teens, and the NSA was probably sick of sifting through conversations debating the relative merits of Justin Bieber vs. One Direction.

Re:The real reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45019725)

You believe they stopped? Want to buy my bridge in Brooklyn, too?

Re:The real reason (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45020839)

They had to. Batman owns the patent.

Re:The real reason (1)

symbolset (646467) | about a year ago | (#45022181)

Of course they stopped. Backhaul is compromised and the location data is transmitted in the clear, making phone company voluntary compliance redundant and more error prone than sniffing the data out.

Re:The real reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45019963)

No. You guys on /. are more paranoid than ever. The reason is that NSA is interested in COTS technology.

When google came out with google severs, guess who thought it could be useful. When cisco came out with vtc, again, same thing. When the iPhone came out? same thing....

And everyone, and I mean every MBA in silicon valley to interested in cell phone tracking. PERIOD. The agency is just hopping on the trend and seeing why it's a hot topic in the valley of cash and tech.

Re:The real reason (1)

symbolset (646467) | about a year ago | (#45022189)

Google just bought a company, waze, that allows people to share their google enhanced gps location data in return for realtime traffic reporting and routing. It is a popular service.

Re: The real reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45022521)

Real time reporting of my location? How about hell no.

This whole thing with companies invading people's lives is like buying Manhattan from the Indian tribe with mere trinkets.

  Yeah, sure, they say results are aggregated and you will not be individually tracked. Guess what - this is just a promise. It is not enforced by technological means. A promise means nothing to companies. At best a small increase in damage control PR budget.

Re: The real reason (1)

symbolset (646467) | about a year ago | (#45022737)

And yet many people will (have) sign up if it means it will (does) help them get to work on time. Go ahead and not opt in. They don't need you.

Why do you care? Is your mobile phone on? Do you pay it in your own name? Then it continuously transmits its location, triangulated by cellular towers to within 30 feet, screaming your name. The towers need this info to route your calls to you. They use unencrypted backhaul to aggregate that info, and the backhaul is almost certainly tapped by the NSA, giving them real-time tracking on your location archived for all time. Providers are not required to, and do not always, use their own backhaul, but the Internet, meaning that any transit pipe with a mirror port could be capturing all location data for entire metro areas. Your cellular phone is a tracking device, and it always has been. That feature is required for and implied by the function of the device even if your GPS is nominally turned off. There is room for debate about whether the GPS is actually turned off when the software says it is, or if the "GPS off" feature just turns off access to the phone's apps while leaving the hardware and system software fully operational.

It is convenient that people don't have to know how their technology works, but sometimes it is annoying when people who don't know how their technology works complain about things that are intrinsically implied.

Re: The real reason (2)

Ash Vince (602485) | about a year ago | (#45023467)

Why do you care? Is your mobile phone on? Do you pay it in your own name? Then it continuously transmits its location, triangulated by cellular towers to within 30 feet, screaming your name. The towers need this info to route your calls to you.

One of my mates used to work for a UK mobile phone company as a network engineer and as such he got a free mobile phone. It was quite an interesting model though as it always displayed the tracking data on screen instead of a crappy network logo. It just used to have the closest 4 cell towers it was communicating with at the time and the signal strength to each tower. This might not be tremendously accurate at pinpointing the phones exact location due to buildings and such making the signal strength needed not entirely relational to distance but was still quite an eye opener to us at the time.

Of course it would make sense for this same data to be logged at the other end since in the modern age it is easier to just log everything then decide later if it is useful since data storage is cheap.

This sort of thing can be very useful for tracking things like who you spend time with as they can look at when your signal strength data converges.

Re: The real reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45023641)

right, and now extrapolate to the next step. And consider the testimony of the head nsa'er. Before the congress, in "truthfull" testimony, he lied his ass off.
Every statement they have made has been a falsehood. So I would bet, they are the ones who can access your phone, anytime. If they think the boy in california was bad for activating the camera on some girls phone, and computer. What can they do? With free access to your phone, your computers, and any cameras attached? any microphones? 1984 anyone,
My question is why can it not be used as evidence? If they are going to catch/cache and store, Or is it lie and bypass because the boss says so.

Sounds like.. (1)

ThatAblaze (1723456) | about a year ago | (#45019513)

It sounds like what he means is that anyone who wants to hide their data can just turn off their GPS, so you get a bunch of data about people who don't care that someone could know their location. The types of info that have "operational value" are usually the ones that users aren't aware that the NSA can get.

Re:Sounds like.. (5, Insightful)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about a year ago | (#45019547)

Yeah, kind of like they "abandoned" Total Information Awareness and just adopted another program that did the exact same thing. This is more of the PR pushback after they've been getting torched for the last year.

Re:Sounds like.. (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year ago | (#45019661)

Yes, this strikes me as more of a "We don't like red apples, so we've abandoned it... Now introducing green apples!"

Re:Sounds like.. (1)

davester666 (731373) | about a year ago | (#45022565)

More like: "We don't like red apples, so we've abandoned it... Now introducing rose-colored apples!"

Re:Sounds like.. (3, Informative)

barlevg (2111272) | about a year ago | (#45019549)

Well one question is how they're collecting the location data. If it's from GPS geolocation, that's garbage (my phone's geotag data is usually at least an hour out-of-date) and easy enough to evade or spoof. If they're doing it via cell tower triangulation... that might actually work.

Re:Sounds like.. (3)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year ago | (#45019673)

So we can translate this as "We've abandoned using a cell phone's geolocation functionality, which is garbage, and now tie into all cell towers and get up to the minute accurate cell phone information, which we grab constantly and archive forever."

Re:Sounds like.. (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year ago | (#45021871)

Cell tower triangulation and in the past aircraft. You get the voice print, conversation, metadata, text and the phones unique brand characteristics.
The nice domestic legal aspect is you can hide from the telco and hide from federal and state laws. Fly a mil plane over a larger city looking for anti war protesters all year :)
Contractors get paid, flight hours add up, domestic data flows in. Long term this also insulates the telcos legal department, just looking after correct law enforcement requests.

Re:Sounds like.. (1)

barlevg (2111272) | about a year ago | (#45023235)

Wouldn't it be cheaper to float a blimp?

Re:Sounds like.. (1)

RevDisk (740008) | about a year ago | (#45024043)

Even cheaper to just mine photos posted by the protesters themselves, and run photo analysis combined with time stamps on the photos themselves.

Re:Sounds like.. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45019575)

Unless you turn off your phone completely or use "airplane mode," they can still get a approximation based on what radio tower you are connected to (much like what google assisted gps does). But why develop an expensive 3rd party program when you can just get the cell phone companies to easily cough up any information they need? There is no need because the capability of such things already exists and easily accessed hence why they cancelled the program due to it being redundant.

Re:Sounds like.. (1)

cheater512 (783349) | about a year ago | (#45021225)

Recording it permanently does have value however.

The interesting thing about this is it can't be called legal in any fashion since it could ONLY target US citizens.

Re:Sounds like.. (1)

Ozymandias_KoK (48811) | about a year ago | (#45023879)

You need to be a US citizen to have a phone working in the US? Not a non-citizen resident, not a tourist, not a businessman?

Majority US citizens, yes...ONLY? Not even close.

Re:Sounds like.. (1)

cheater512 (783349) | about a year ago | (#45033163)

Granted, but this program would be virtually worthless for targeting non-citizens.

Re:Sounds like.. (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year ago | (#45021891)

The propaganda value is letting a lot of suckpuppets, pundits, talking heads and tame academics quote this story as saying domestic legal protection work and always have.

Re:Sounds like.. (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#45019579)

no no no.

the operational value is lost because they have the data needed for triangulation if they want from operators ALREADY on tap and that is far superior to snooping some connections for gps strings..

Re:Sounds like.. (2)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | about a year ago | (#45019881)

I would be somewhat surprised if the NSA does not already know nearly every person's activity down to who they had lunch with every day for the last few years, what they ordered for lunch, and whether the waiter reported the tip as income. They should have software that guesses pretty well who is sleeping with whom, and who's a drug dealer. If you carry a phone in your pocket, all they need is the SSID data your phone has seen to know where you've been. If they get GPS data, they can probably de-fuzz it, turning off the military obfuscation of your position, and track you to with about a yard. Combined with knowledge of all your credit card purchases, and they should have a decent idea of what you've been up to. Even cash should be pretty well tracked by now. Every machine capable of detecting a $5 vs a $20 should also be capable of scanning the bill's serial number, and that includes ATM machines. Combine that with the coming trend of web-cams aimed at license plates on all major roads connected to the internet...

If the NSA does not do this, then how incompetent are they?

Re:Sounds like.. (1)

colinnwn (677715) | about a year ago | (#45020909)

Bill Clinton turned off selective availability that degraded the civilian signal accuracy. There's another GPS military band that provides encoded and potentially better location data, but consumer devices, and especially tiny low power GPS receivers in cell phones can't even decode that signal.

Re:Sounds like.. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45019625)

No, that's not what's being said here. First, GPS has nothing to do with. Phones have GPS systems now, but the foundational problem of a cell phone network is "which tower do I send information to?" A cell phone must be trackable to some extent in order to receive calls. This is done completely with received signal quality (RSQ) metrics and pinging. GPS is not used. You can track a person more finely by noting the strength of several "visible" towers and their relative geographical location.

Alexander is basically saying, "we set up a system where phone companies would feed us location data based on triangulation of multiple tower strengths (whether raw or pre-processed is unclear) just to see if the NSA computers could handle the basic networking of the task. In the end we decided not the both with the program (although they could), because right now if you need something you can just pass the info off to the FBI, which does the legal legwork all on it's own."

The operational value that's not present is the ability to know any given person's position in real time, without waiting for warrants. If they have the time to wait, there's another LEA that can do that for them. They decided to spy on people's location just enough to prove that it can do so later, whenever it feels the need.

Or they simply did it another way (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45021925)

I don't think General 'collect it all' suddenly decided not to collect it all. He's a master of lying. More likely he had several such programs, and abandoned one of them and is referring to that one abandoned attempt at this. As long as NSA's actions are secrets, his lies go unchallenged.

He certainly has all the cell phone records in near real time and they do contain the tower metrics, perhaps he simply mines that for the persons location rather than get the telcos to do the calculation for him.

Re:Sounds like.. (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year ago | (#45021989)

Adamo Bove was the head of security at Telecom Italia and exposed the CIA, SISMI ( ~ the Italian CIA) in court with "strength of several "visible" towers and their relative geographical location" during the CIA/Italy extraordinary rendition affair in 2003.

GPS? (2)

nurb432 (527695) | about a year ago | (#45019785)

Better turn off your wifi and your cellular radio too. Both of those combined is accurate enough to know where you are within a few meters. Plenty of accuracy to stake out your building in person, or order a drone strike.

Re:GPS? (1)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about a year ago | (#45020517)

Better turn off your wifi and your cellular radio too. Both of those combined is accurate enough to know where you are within a few meters. Plenty of accuracy to stake out your building in person, or order a drone strike.

Approximate accuracy of the various aspects of your cell phone:

GPS: 3 meters Good enough for a direct drone hit
Bluetooth: 1-100 meters, depending on the intended use
WiFi: 20-92 meters. Enough to pick up from the store next door at a shopping center.
Cell Radio: 10-100 meters, depending on location and type of relay equipment.

Technically, location of a cell phone by its radio is known as trilateration. This is different from triangulation in that the location is computed "inside out" from the towers to the phone instead of from the phone to the towers.

Not included in the above are infrared (not as common on modern phones and limited to line-of-sight) and the possibility that the Feds might be able to override the phone's normal operation and force it to emit an audio (possibly infra- or supersonic) beacon - the reverse of the tin-foil fears that the microphone could be remotely activated.

While it's possibly no longer true, some phones had GPS that was not accessible to users and developers, It was kept permanently switched off to conserve power. However, if you dialed 911, the phone would switch it on for emergency location services.

Re:GPS? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45021833)

While it's possibly no longer true, some phones had GPS that was not accessible to users and developers, It was kept permanently switched off to conserve power. However, if you dialed 911, the phone would switch it on for emergency location services.

That feature still exists in cell phones today. A quick look in my Samsung S3 (here in the USA on a major US carrier) tells me there is a "E911" feaure under "Settings" -> "personal" -> "Location Services" that says (direct quote from the cell phone screen), "E911 Location cannot be turned off on any mobile cellular phone".

Re:Sounds like.. (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#45021719)

It sounds like what he means is that anyone who wants to hide their data can just turn off their GPS, so you get a bunch of data about people who don't care that someone could know their location. The types of info that have "operational value" are usually the ones that users aren't aware that the NSA can get.

Sounds to me that they didn't have to try to use their own methods of obtaining location data because every single carrier in the country will hand it over as so called meta-data. The carriers know pretty much where you are even if you turn off GPS, and its close enough for NSA purposes.
They just want to be able to know if Bad-Guy A is meeting with Bad-Guy B, or if either of them just went to the Fertilizer Dealer.

So rather than waste time asking for the locations data when they need it, they just get all of it all the time on everyone.

Or so they WANT you to believe. (3, Interesting)

themushroom (197365) | about a year ago | (#45019637)

I don't know any different, but someone's bound to express doubt that the program went nowhere.

Re:Or so they WANT you to believe. (2)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#45019835)

different government department already had a system in place for tracking the data they were tracking. and technically they shouldn't be spying on people on american soil anyways since that different department(feds) are supposed to handle that in the first place.

so it was more of a case of wasting money doing something the left hand already had a system for.

Re:Or so they WANT you to believe. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45021855)

Yeah. He said it was classified when asked about if they really totally stopped.

They probably track people of interest such terrorists, foreign business people and diplomats, and three levels deep into their contact list.

Not a big deal (3, Funny)

BenSchuarmer (922752) | about a year ago | (#45019739)

It's just that the data wasn't as accurate as the data that they get from the microchips they've implanted in our dental fillings.

Anal Probe (1)

zlives (2009072) | about a year ago | (#45020179)

its a long way to get to the teeth

"Abandoned" (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#45019743)

Translation: renamed and doubly funded.

Re:"Abandoned" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45025717)

.. and split into multiple smaller programs. Just like TIA.

Re:"Abandoned" (1)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#45025789)

Or, like most abandoned government programs, they figured out that they could do it easier some other way and did that instead. Like that time when they retired the SR-71 fleet "without replacing" them...except for spy satellites that made them obsolete.

Carrier IQ (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45019771)

The first thing that popped into my head when I read this was "Carrier IQ". The timing is almost right as well. Could I be wrong?

No trust means no communication (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45019999)

The NSA have directly lied and also more often twisted the meaning of words out of their common use, which is properly tantamount to lying.

This makes accepting *anything* they say problematic.

At this point the NSA can no longer meaningfully communicate with me.

Re:No trust means no communication (1)

magic maverick (2615475) | about a year ago | (#45023181)

Next week from the Guardian:

Starting in 2011, the NSA has been tracking mobile phone users across the USA, documents provided by ex-analysis Ed Snowden show. This directly contradicts what the head of the NSA, General "Fuck you, I'm the mother fucking NSA chief BITCHES!" Alexander said last week.

I.e. whatever Fuck you, I'm the mother fucking NSA chief BITCHES! says, should be taken directly as a lie, and the reality is obviously much worse. As anon coward said, they lie and they twist the truth. Nothing they say should be trusted.

Re:No trust means no communication (1)

snakeplissken (559127) | about a year ago | (#45024219)

Next week from the Guardian:

        Starting in 2011, the NSA has been tracking mobile phone users across the USA, documents provided by ex-analysis Ed Snowden show. This directly contradicts what the head of the NSA, General "Fuck you, I'm the mother fucking NSA chief BITCHES!" Alexander said last week.

I.e. whatever Fuck you, I'm the mother fucking NSA chief BITCHES! says, should be taken directly as a lie, and the reality is obviously much worse. As anon coward said, they lie and they twist the truth. Nothing they say should be trusted.
-----------------------

given the continuing statements from the likes of glenn greenwald that there are even more damaging reveals to come i've been wondering why they don't release everything at once rather than risk 'revelation fatigue' (tm), however it occurs to me that snowden and pals may be trying to bait the powers that be into telling lies about 'lesser' revelations that can later be shown for what they are when fuller truth/allegations are pronounced.

Smart phone =/= cell phone (1)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about a year ago | (#45020117)

That's what the manufs. say, anyway.
So smartypants Keith is being facetious here.

Sounds like ... (1)

giorgist (1208992) | about a year ago | (#45020121)

Well it sounds like they are simply trying to reveal truths of lesser value to redirect attention. I think they have poisoned the perception. The game is that do they think it is worth repairing ? They probably decided ti simply live with this perception.

Oh...LIES! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45020149)

All cellphone locations are tracked 24/7 by satellite...as well as all the transmissions too. Oh, and the reflected RF is used to track humans, cars, planes, etc, etc.

Re:Oh...LIES! (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | about a year ago | (#45020349)

All cellphone locations are tracked 24/7 by satellite...as well as all the transmissions too. Oh, and the reflected RF is used to track humans, cars, planes, etc, etc.

Why would they waste money and effort tracking cell phones by satellite over just getting the cell tower's data from the carriers?

Re:Oh...LIES! (1)

PPH (736903) | about a year ago | (#45020653)

Just remember: The RCS [wikipedia.org] of a tinfoil hat is much greater than an unadorned head.

Alexander my good friend. (1)

Holi (250190) | about a year ago | (#45020337)

There will never be a time in America's existence where the intelligence agencies "need" geolocation data on the citizens. If that day ever comes we will no longer live in America, as on that day the Constitution would no longer exist.

Re:Alexander my good friend. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45030581)

Welcome back from your sabbatical, you might want to catch up on the last years worth of actual news.

All hail NSA-USA!

Yeah- 'abandoned' (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45020577)

This shows how little your masters think of you and your ability to conceptually resist their evil. The NSA collect ALL the real-time positional information from EVERY mobile phone company in the USA, having direct hardware connections to the computer systems that gather the data that the US government mandated every phone produce years ago.

Here's an interesting fact. A few years back, every TV drama assumed that the sheeple viewing KNEW that all cell phones constantly have their location identified by cell tower triangulation methods, as well as option GPS chips that may exist in the phone. As a result, plot-lines in dramas often revolved around this location tracking facility. Then the US government contacted EVERY major media outlet, and requested that they no longer reminded viewers of the tracking facility. Their excuse was that 'criminals' would be more likely to self-incriminate if they 'forgot' (or never realised in the first place) that their cell phone was also a government tracking device (by Law). Today, you can watch US shows that LIE to the viewer, and claim non-GPS-chip phones can never be location tracked.

Every mobile phone also has the ability to have the microphone remotely enabled without any indicator of this action on the phone itself.

The NSA tracks you by your phone. It tracks your vehicle via the RFID fingerprint created by the RFID chips embedded in your tires. So-called licence-plate cameras ONLY exists to connect a 'name to the face' (in other words a RFID fingerprint to the car's make and licence plate). Under-road RFID readers are thousands of times more common than the cameras, are vastly more reliable, and are never noticed.

When the Iron Curtain fell, people were horrified at the true level of surveillance in East Germany and Poland, and this despite the fact that people had previously assumed surveillance in Soviet nations was massively over-the-top. The NSA full surveillance projects are much, much, much more intrusive than even 99.9% of the most informed of you believe. Essentially whatever could be done if money is no object is done by the NSA.

If the majority of you could be made aware of the truth, you would want to kill yourselves- realising that those that rule you truly perceive you as nothing more than cattle. The minds of those 'at the top' make the world's worst serial killers seem like saints in comparison. The effort made by the depravity Obama (supported by George Soros' HRW) to murder hundreds of thousands of children, women and men in Syria recently, so that the popular secular regime could be replaced with a female-hating extremist islamic one, should be a bit of a clue.

The NSA exists for three main reasons, NONE of them to do with fighting crime or 'terrorism'
1) to read the 'mind' of the US population, or selected group within, in order to perfect the effectiveness of propaganda campaigns pushed by the mainstream media.
2) to identify new grass-roots social/political activity for early destruction or co-opting
3) to gather blackmail and coercion material for use in 'persuading' people in positions of power to support the 'correct' agendas.

The NSA simply gives your masters the perfect intelligence tools to STAY your masters forever, regardless of the will of the sheeple. Hey, but then this is ALWAYS the real purpose of intelligence operations that engage in surveillance of the population. It is just that now the NSA can do this evil almost perfectly, having both the budget and the technology.

The NSA is not a magic wand (Obama wanted to holocaust Syria, but the Human Race, including the US sheeple, wanted to back Putin's non-violent proposals). However, the NSA is the next best thing, and US sheeple are completely happy to vote for the same monster each time, simply because the monster can opt to wear a 'democrat' or 'republican' costume. A big step may falter, but the NSA ensures the small steps stay true.

PS Snowden's 'revelations' are part of the carefully calculated NSA project as well. You hear only what they want you to hear in a carefully calculated game of 'cause and effect'. The citizens of Soviet East Germany were also allowed to regularly hear carefully crafted tales of state spying- but never anything approaching the real truth.

Re:Yeah- 'abandoned' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45027999)

Fine -- except for the use of the idiotic, puerile "sheeple". Cut it out. It makes you sound like a complete twat.

Snowden (1)

Holi (250190) | about a year ago | (#45020581)

They are just trying to get out ahead of the next Snowden leak.

+1 insightful, he's admitted he has location data (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45022365)

The location data is right there in the metadata General Alexander grabbed, it's not in lat/long form but it's quite trivial to calculate if you have a table of tower locations, which is publicly available. He's already admitting to grabbing meta data in near real-time so he's also grabbed location data in near real time.

So he's lying, it's just pinning down the exact lie.

IMHO, it's the 'real-time' thing, because he gets meta data in batches with delays of a few minutes. So he can claim there is no 'real-time' tracking of Americans locations because in his head real time means milliseconds not minutes. As long as nobody can see the details, nobody can see the lie. But we already have Snowden's leak on the metadata, and it already shows he gets the tower data.

So this means ... (1)

PPH (736903) | about a year ago | (#45020749)

... I can't call the NSA when I'm drunk and ask, "Could you trace this call and tell me where I am?"

Gen. Alexander always tells the truth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45020939)

I'm confident that he's telling the truth in this case as well.

Cue next Snowden leak (1)

Gibgezr (2025238) | about a year ago | (#45021129)

in 5, 4, 3, 2...

Re:Cue next Snowden leak (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45021675)

No matter if the NSA was caught molesting children and killing thousands of innocent people, the American people would do absolutely nothing to retaliate. Those leaks do next to nothing. I shit you not, there's a lot of people that think the NSA leaks are just conspiracy theories and that the government is there to help them feel more secure. Funny thing is that southpark accurately depicted what I think of those people last week.

W-- What?! (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year ago | (#45021541)

He added, 'This may be something that is a future requirement for the country, but it is not right now because when we identify a number we can give that to the FBI, [who can a warrant for the data it needs].

Who can WHAT a warrant for the data it needs? Fabricate?! Prestidigitate?! Erect?!

Stop Self Censoring and Tell Us!

I for one (1)

The_Star_Child (2660919) | about a year ago | (#45021693)

I for one believe my new information overlords.

1 meter grid square target position (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45021857)

To be militarily useful the position information from any cell-phone needs 10 cm accuracy and 10 cm precision at the 1 meter grid square level.

Sounds like... (1)

Kazoo the Clown (644526) | about a year ago | (#45021895)

It sounds like he's saying it's cheaper/easier to just get it from the carriers rather than directly collect it themselves.

Alexander Thinks Constitution Doesn't Apply To NSA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45023271)

Somehow these asshats have got it stuck in their heads that the NSA is any different at all from the FBI in terms of what it needs before it can collect the slightest bit of anything on a US citizen.

What it really is they want more effective way ... (1)

yusufmm (3374197) | about a year ago | (#45023705)

Maybe they are setting up a new and more modern tracking technology ...

Can we believe them? (2)

adsl (595429) | about a year ago | (#45023857)

As these guys routinely lie about what they do can we believe that they have dropped this program?

Re:Can we believe them? (1)

porksauce (1302059) | about a year ago | (#45024567)

I think the tone of his statements is basically, "Sure we dabbled in that, and we might again at some point." Not reassuring at all, and not meant to be. And the only issue was "operational value", no moral or legal impediments. I can't imagine anyone reading that article would feel relieved.
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