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NSA Broke Into Links Between Google, Yahoo Datacenters

timothy posted about a year ago | from the smiley-makes-it-all-ok dept.

The Internet 394

barlevg writes "The Washington Post reports that, according to documents obtained from Edward Snowden, through their so-called 'MUSCULAR' initiative, the National Security Agency has exploited a weakness in the transfers between data centers, which Google and others pay a premium to send over secure fiber optic cables. The leaked documents include a post-it note as part of an internal NSA Powerpoint presentation showing a diagram of Google network traffic, an arrow pointing to the Google front-end server with text reading, 'SSL Added and Removed Here' with a smiley face. When shown the sketch by The Post and asked for comment, two engineers with close ties to Google responded with strings of profanity." The Washington Post report is also summarized at SlashBI. Also in can't-trust-the-government-not-to-spy news, an anonymous reader writes: "According to recent reports, the National Security Agency collects 'one-end foreign' Internet metadata as it passes through the United States. The notion is that purely domestic communications should receive greater protection, and that ordinary Americans won't send much personal information outside the country. A researcher at Stanford put this hypothesis to the test... and found that popular U.S. websites routinely pass browsing activity to international servers. Even the House of Representatives website was sending traffic to London. When the NSA vacuums up international Internet metadata, then, it's also snooping on domestic web browsing by millions of Americans."

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sounds like a man in the middle (4, Insightful)

X0563511 (793323) | about a year ago | (#45283653)

... and I hope that "string of profanity" was directed at the NSA who put it there.

Re:sounds like a man in the middle (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45283749)

Two engineers with close ties to Google exploded in profanity when they saw the drawing. “I hope you publish this,” one of them said.

I rather think it was.

Re:sounds like a man in the middle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45283915)

I forgot a word there. "NSA agent who put it there."

Beg pardon. Anonymous to prevent karma whoring.

Re:sounds like a man in the middle (5, Funny)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#45284279)

NSA stands for National Security Asshole. You were correct the first time.

Re:sounds like a man in the middle (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45284029)

... and I hope that "string of profanity" was directed at the NSA who put it there.

The string of profanity was because they thought they had exclusive rights to mine that data.

What, you thought Google was the good guys? HA!

I'm for this (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45283657)

No one knows how many terrorist plots that have been adverted due to this. Just think back at the Boston marathon event. We should be grateful that we have not had more of them for the past decade. A lot of people forget this.

Re:I'm for this (4, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#45283753)

No one knows how many terrorist plots that have been adverted due to this. Just think back at the Boston marathon event. We should be grateful that we have not had more of them for the past decade. A lot of people forget this.

You forgot your <sarc> tags.

Re:I'm for this (2)

zenlessyank (748553) | about a year ago | (#45283765)

Go Die In A Fire. All peeps with this mentality please jump in the same Fire.

Re:I'm for this (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about a year ago | (#45283923)

Wait! Can we have them play in traffic first?

Re:I'm for this (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45283983)

Hello, NSA shill! Let's be honest here. That's quite right. Exactly: no one knows how many. You know something else? It doesn't even MATTER how many: the ends DO NOT justify the means!

This, what you're doing here? This is state-sponsored terrorism! This is completely off limits. You're way, way out of line. You need to look in the mirror and realise that Snowden has more integrity in his big toe than you have in your whole body. Stop making excuses. Shut these operations down. Publish details of any vulnerabilities you know about, including ones you've created or discovered. It's unethical not to: and it's quite frankly extremely damaging to national and international security not to. And we'll fix them, because we can't trust you to.

At this point I'm not worried about blithering crazy idiots waging "war" on us with half-assed bombs: I'm worried about our own governments waging "cyber-war" on us with billion-dollar budgets. It's obvious with a moment's thought which one the greater threat is, and I'm sorry, but it's not the frothy-mouthed jihadist who's actively sabotaging efforts to secure critical internet and other infrastructure. It's YOU.

People should not have to be afraid of their governments. But they do. We're not interested in your feeble justifications. Freedom IS worth human lives: it always has been. Operations like this make the sacrifices of those who gave their lives in years long past to ensure you have at least the promise of freedom utterly meaningless, and turn our own governments - quite literally - into our adversaries. You should be ashamed of yourselves. That has to stop. It has to stop now. And it has to stop no matter what the cost, no matter what the trade-off.

Given the hard choice between anybody having privacy and nobody having privacy, even if it means sitting down and redesigning baseline security protocols and the internet at large, I'd rather make the right choice than the easy choice. It's time to roll up our sleeves and start fixing this mess, and you're not invited to the party.

Re:I'm for this (5, Insightful)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about a year ago | (#45284077)

Yes exactly look back to the Boston bombing.

At the Boston bombing we had two countries telling us to watch the bomber that he was radical and potential terrorist, his youtube channel was full of sermons by Muslim extremist clerics.

And what happened... Big Brother did nothing.

Meanwhile the NSA agents are using their dragnet of all of the worlds communications to do what? Loveint, the NSA agents are using their wiretaps to spy on their loved ones, neighbors, crushes, and anyone they want.

So we are left with two options the Government let it happen or the are to incompatent/preoccupied getting their rocks off to be allowed near their own dragnet.

Re:I'm for this (5, Interesting)

BradMajors (995624) | about a year ago | (#45284205)

There is a third option. The NSA is not looking for terrorists. They are doing all this monitoring for other purposes.

Re:I'm for this (2)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#45284253)

Meanwhile the NSA agents are using their dragnet of all of the worlds communications to do what? Loveint, the NSA agents are using their wiretaps to spy on their loved ones, neighbors, crushes, and anyone they want.

About 1 person per year has been caught doing that if you read the reports. I'm not going to mark that down as a major threat.

Re:I'm for this (5, Funny)

istartedi (132515) | about a year ago | (#45284267)

we had two countries telling us to watch the bomber

They should have e-mailed eachother. Then we would have caught it.

Re:I'm for this (1)

Cwix (1671282) | about a year ago | (#45284145)

Fuck you. I never agreed to trade my privacy for your misplace sense of security (theater).

At the risk of stating the obvious... (5, Informative)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about a year ago | (#45283703)

Fucking traitors.

Re:At the risk of stating the obvious... (4, Informative)

Erbo (384) | about a year ago | (#45284047)

English cuss words don't cut it anymore. Perkeleen vittupää. (HT: Linus Torvalds)

When will the sheep look up (5, Insightful)

Todd Palin (1402501) | about a year ago | (#45283707)

Slashdotters seem pretty appalled at these revelations, but when will the general public reach the point of disgust? In theory the people of the USA still have the power to change these behaviors through the ballot box. The news just goes on and on. but the outrage seems slow to reach the surface.

Re:When will the sheep look up (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45283781)

Wake up sheeple! [xkcd.com]

Re:When will the sheep look up (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45283805)

The public-at-large are vain, petty creatures; and just as your average slut with no self-respect treats any kind of attention as the good kind, so do the rest of the public as they post pictures of their cats and share descriptions of the minutiae of their bowel movements and that they went wild and had sugar in their coffee today.

You who are on Facebook and Google plus are part of the problem. Until you at least make an honest first-step to ween yourselves off the social networking and media dicks you suck, you have only yourselves to blame.

-- Ethanol-fueled

Re:When will the sheep look up (4, Insightful)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | about a year ago | (#45283869)

The only problem is what your choice is between John Jackson, and Jack Johnson or Kang and Kodos or a turd sandwich and a giant douche.
All depending on which animated series you prefer. :)

Re:When will the sheep look up (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#45284073)

The only problem is what your choice is between John Jackson, and Jack Johnson or Kang and Kodos or a turd sandwich and a giant douche.

All depending on which animated series you prefer. :)

No, the problem is that so many people are incorrectly convinced that choosing to vote for a political candidate is a binary decision, when the reality is that there are almost as many choices in who you elect as there are tributaries to the Mississippi.

Re:When will the sheep look up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45284163)

and they all end up in New Orleans covered with the sewage of a thousand towns :(

Re:When will the sheep look up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45284233)

Exactly...Even in that famous Simpson's episode, the writers had one of the aliens point out that any vote note cast for Kang/Kodos would be a "wasted" third party vote. It is this mentality that is the real problem.

Re:When will the sheep look up (1)

jovius (974690) | about a year ago | (#45283871)

I'd guess that would happen if the NSA etc operations begin to worsen the actual user experience.

Re:When will the sheep look up (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45283933)

The public doesn't give a damn that the President and Cabinet have been ordering assassinations, torture, or invasion that leads to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. Why should they be concerned with a little spying? They are literally more concerned about the welfare of dogs (see Michael Vick), tiny fetuses, and boobies on TV.

Re:When will the sheep look up (4, Insightful)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about a year ago | (#45284035)

You are under the amusing assumption that ballot boxes change anything. What we are dealing with are institutional government entities that exist apart from any apparatus to effectively monitor and contain them. THIS is the shadow government nobody pays any attention to, until it is too late. And those of us that have warned people for years, have been labeled "kooks" and "loons".

Oh, and this is just the surface they are allowing you to see. It is much much worse than you can possibly imagine.

Re:When will the sheep look up (1)

Todd Palin (1402501) | about a year ago | (#45284191)

You are correct, but only up to a point. Normally the average voter is uninformed and unengaged, but there have been times in the past where voter outrage has overcome apathy and misdirection. There have been situations where the outrage of voters has trumped the political contributions of the corporate interests. It doesn't happen often, but it has happened in the past. I really don't know if the snowden revelations will even come close, but it should. We are in the middle of a virtual coup. The constitution has been suspended, probably indefinitely, and the sheep don't seem to care.

Re:When will the sheep look up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45284327)

Oh, and this is just the surface they are allowing you to see. It is much much worse than you can possibly imagine.

Yes, it's turtles all the way down.

Re:When will the sheep look up (3, Interesting)

sqorbit (3387991) | about a year ago | (#45284057)

I think the public figures "if I'm not doing anything wrong, why should I care about spying". The idea that they are only targeting terrorists and criminals gives people the illusion that our privacy is not truly at risk. It's when they misinterpret information and target the innocent people is when they get upset. It's a false sense of security not fully understanding the larger scope of spying and archiving information.

Re:When will the sheep look up (2)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a year ago | (#45284311)

I think the public figures "if I'm not doing anything wrong, why should I care about spying". The idea that they are only targeting terrorists and criminals gives people the illusion that our privacy is not truly at risk. It's when they misinterpret information and target the innocent people is when they get upset. It's a false sense of security not fully understanding the larger scope of spying and archiving information.

Or the public figured it out that by doing ANYTHING online already makes you part of a million different tracking things. Besides the NSA spying on you, you have Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and dozens of other people tracking you (mostly Google through its advertiser subsiaries).

It's not "I'm not doing anything wrong", it's "it's public ".

It's why "privacy controls" and "privacy settings" are a joke (they DO NOT EXIST - you cannot make private anything you post online - the only way is to NOT POST IT ONLINE. After all, it's private, right?). The whole notion of "privacy online" is marketing - it gets people to drop their guard down. Or for Facebook, to get people to post crap online they wouldn't otherwise post (the entire point).

What's public is public.

Of course, the creepy factor is when people come in and combine all that information together...

Re:When will the sheep look up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45284091)

That's what happens when the press is in the tank and 55% of your population cares more about food stamps.

Golf clap. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45284207)

NSA spying is just the latest of myriad unpleasant facts of modern life that range from annoyances to outrages.

IMO, it sits somewhere in the 'annoyance' area of the spectrum, insofar as it has zero impact on my life, liberty or pursuit of happiness (other than that I would prefer my tax money be spent otherwise).

Even the theoretical impacts are so heavily wrapped in paranoid contingencies that NSA mischief would only ever be a tiny facet of a much larger, more sinister and (most importantly) completely improbable future that would be worth absolutely no person's or entities while to attempt to realize.

So, you are just going to have to accept life where someone could, theoretically, observe and judge you based on your browsing and email habits. It was ever thus, even if you were too naive to realize it.

Re:When will the sheep look up (2, Informative)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#45284221)

Slashdotters seem pretty appalled at these revelations, but when will the general public reach the point of disgust? In theory the people of the USA still have the power to change these behaviors through the ballot box. The news just goes on and on. but the outrage seems slow to reach the surface.

There is a process for changing things in a democracy*, and that normally doesn't involve mobs with torches and pitchforks when it comes to important national policy questions, even if you call people "sheep".** People are writing their legislators. Congress is gathering facts, including reviewing its reports and holding the hearings occurring at present, as noted here [politico.com] . It is up the Congress, President, and Courts to work through the issues as they occur. There are disputes about the facts of what has been done, the legality of it, what the country needs from its intelligence agencies, and about how to proceed. That will eventually get worked out.

It is entirely possible that little if anything will change for many reasons. Many people have mistaken views about what the law and precedent is on this, both Constitutional and statutory. As a result there are people that are upset due to their mistaken ideas about the legality of various aspects of what has been going on. It isn't likely that Congress will accommodate all of the mistaken ideas about what is and isn't legal when they act. They will rely on what the lawyers and court cases tell them. There are clearly cases in which the documents from Snowden have been misinterpreted as to what they represented. That results in people being upset due to their mistaken belief about what has been going on. Although various activists advocate a range of reactions, from stopping all foreign intelligence to limiting specific methods or targets of intelligence, most of the American people still support intelligence operations focused on terrorists and enemies of the US and its allies. Also keep in mind that what has been under discussion over the last several months is only a small part of what NSA does. There may be some new restrictions on the intelligence agencies. It is unlikely that all of the activists and cranks will be satisfied, so the complaints are likely to marginally decrease, but are unlikely to disappear.

* Democratic Republic - spare me further comments.
** Generally not a strong indicator that you have real insight into the process.

Re:When will the sheep look up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45284223)

when will the general public reach the point of disgust?
 
You kidding me? We still have a good 40% of the population that believes that Obama was the last guy to know about the NSA's snooping. As long as that way of thinking goes on for any significant portion of the population is still fooled by this kind of media lies there is no hope. And even if his lemmings do break ranks you have to pray to god that they don't just jump the fence and elect the Republicans instead.
 
For as much political schism as there appears to be now I've never seen the two parties so aligned when it comes to destroying the rights of the man on the street. They're both practically giddy about it. Everytime I see one of their lying faces smile while telling people that security is better than freedom I just think that we're that much closer to becoming an unabashed police state.
 
Just you wait and see. In the next election the parties of dumb and dumber will still rake in at least 90% of the total popular vote.

Re:When will the sheep look up (1)

Hamsterdan (815291) | about a year ago | (#45284281)

If it's like Canada (mostly like it), you have the choice between two corrupt parties at the Federal, Provincial and Municipal level, and some other *maybe-not-as-corrupt* smaller parties.

Torries, we're fucked. Liberal, we're fucked by someone else, but still fucked...

Re:When will the sheep look up (1)

NoKaOi (1415755) | about a year ago | (#45284329)

In theory the people of the USA still have the power to change these behaviors through the ballot box.

Mod as funny? Some states allow the public to put state laws on the ballot and vote on them, but that doesn't happen at the federal level. On the federal level, we generally just have the choice of somebody with an R next to their name and somebody with a D next to their name. In almost every case, neither one of those people, who are supposed to be our "representatives," will do a damn thing to put a stop to it.

Besides, they're already violating the constitution. Even if the people did have the ability to vote on and pass a law preventing it, what would it matter? It's already illegal, why would you think another law would put a stop to it?

"secure fiber optic cables" (5, Insightful)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about a year ago | (#45283713)

Nothing is "secure" any more. "Secure" is now a one word oxymoron.

Re:"secure fiber optic cables" (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45284147)

Feeling pretty secure in that claim, are you?

Re:"secure fiber optic cables" (1)

disposable60 (735022) | about a year ago | (#45284171)

It's spelled as one word, but properly pronounced as two. "suck your"

Why the secret data collection? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45283715)

I was under the impression that Google and Yahoo! were already giving everything over to the NSA per legal request.

What's the purpose of the snooping and line-tapping if they already get it straight from the horses mouth?

Re:Why the secret data collection? (2)

aaaaaaargh! (1150173) | about a year ago | (#45283737)

That's for the illegal wiretapping.

Re:Why the secret data collection? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45283761)

You're thinking in order to gain enough information to make requests to the Rubber-stamp court?

Re:Why the secret data collection? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45283895)

You're thinking in order to gain enough information to make requests to the Rubber-stamp court?

Either that or they needed to mark off another square on their 'SNOOP' game card. It's not a fun as Bingo but the pay is better.

Re:Why the secret data collection? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45283755)

Just one possible reason would be that Google could be conspiring with perpetrators and providing false records in response to requests.

The targets of conspiracy theories can have their own conspiracy theories, can't they?

Re:Why the secret data collection? (5, Informative)

barlevg (2111272) | about a year ago | (#45283763)

Read this: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2013/10/30/prism-already-gave-the-nsa-access-to-tech-giants-heres-why-it-wanted-more/?hpid=z1 [washingtonpost.com]

There are some obvious reasons: The operations take place overseas, where many statutory restriction on surveillance don't apply -- and where the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Court (FISC) has no jurisdiction. In fact, the FISC ruled a similar, smaller scale program involving cables on U.S. territory illegal in 2011. So if the NSA decides to harvest that data on foreign soil, it can skip most of the oversight mechanisms.

Re:Why the secret data collection? (1)

disposable60 (735022) | about a year ago | (#45284211)

So, similar to corporations employing elaborate financial shell games to escape taxes and regulations, our own government is dodging our own laws for dubious ends? What quarterly numbers are they trying to pretty up for their equity holders?

Re:Why the secret data collection? (1)

Scowler (667000) | about a year ago | (#45283769)

From what I understand, PRISM is only triggered when certain sensitive search terms are found. It looks like MUSCULAR can get whatever thing it wants regardless.

Re:Why the secret data collection? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45283793)

Asking for permission from the kangaroo courts is a lot of paperwork.. and you may even need to use the phone. Nah, better tap it directly at the source, after all we all know the both the FISA court AND the company will eventually comply, so why bother?

CAPTCHA: adultery

Re:Why the secret data collection? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45283823)

It's not as funny when it's a possibility.

Terms of Service violation (5, Interesting)

cohomology (111648) | about a year ago | (#45283731)

This news is very serious, but sometimes humor is the only possible reaction to bad news.

This is a violation of Google's Terms of Service. I hope Google cuts off all access from .gov and .mil domains.

Re:Terms of Service violation (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | about a year ago | (#45283885)

I am sure Bing will love that

Re:Terms of Service violation (3, Funny)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#45284113)

Oh, sure, it would more than* double their traffic!

* "more than," because double of nothing is still nothing.

Re:Terms of Service violation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45284195)

Yeah, they'll probably be able to at least double the two dozen or so users they have now.

Re:Terms of Service violation (1, Insightful)

RandomUsername99 (574692) | about a year ago | (#45284325)

Honestly now, do you really think that the NSA is operating from IP addresses that can be tied to us government domain names?

As long as you make the distinction between (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45283733)

Americans and us dangerous foreigners, expect no sympathy. One does not have to believe in Karma to know that you deserve the domestic spying.

Re:As long as you make the distinction between (5, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#45283773)

Americans and us dangerous foreigners, expect no sympathy. One does not have to believe in Karma to know that you deserve the domestic spying.

By that same line of thinking, one could also say that you deserve to be spied upon and drone-striked, due to your blanket, wholly uninformed generalizations about Americans.

I wouldn't say that, because I'm not an egocentric dick... but someone could, and it would be just as invalid and moronic as your hypothesis.

NSA denies everything (4, Informative)

barlevg (2111272) | about a year ago | (#45283735)

Re:NSA denies everything (5, Insightful)

msauve (701917) | about a year ago | (#45283903)

âoeNSA does collect information on terrorists and our national intelligence priorities but we are not authorized to go into a U.S. companyâ(TM)s servers and take data,â Alexander said.

So, they claim they don't break into servers. So what? That's entirely different than tapping the links between the servers. And you can bet he knows the difference.

Re:NSA denies everything (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about a year ago | (#45283949)

Clapper and Alexander have those new fancy "truth inverters" installed. When they deny something, it's true. When they admit something, it's not true - and if they refuse comment... hide.

Re:NSA denies everything (3)

Yaur (1069446) | about a year ago | (#45284179)

Read carefully. The leaked doc suggests that the NSA broke in to the links between data centers and Alexander is claiming that they didn't break into their servers. Both things can be true.

Re:NSA denies everything (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about a year ago | (#45283969)

Shocking.

Another thing that makes me laugh is the new "restrictions" being put on the NSA.

How could anyone trust that any of these restrictions are really being put into place? It's 100% impossible. Obama could say he's ending all spying against everyone but known AK-47 wielding terrorists tomorrow and those words would not be worth the sound waves that carried them. The NSA systematically lies their ass off about what they do, and Obama has shown that he's not above lying to cover the NSA's ass either. Words from US government officials about the NSA are as meaningless as U2 lyrics.

Even if all the NSA's buildings were abandoned and demolished tomorrow it could just be a diversion. There's no way to earn back the trust.

Re:NSA denies everything (5, Insightful)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about a year ago | (#45283989)

PARSE THE WORDING, DAMMIT.

Alexander did NOT say they didn't do it. He said "we are not authorized to go into a U.S. company’s servers and take data" (emphasis mine). That's a completely different statement.

To me, that looks to be specifically designed to avoid lying without answering the question - such as when Obama answered the question about bugging Merkel's phone with "we are not recording her conversations and will not in the future". Fortunately, in that case, the press noticed the subterfuge and followed up with a question he wouldn't respond to ("Did you, in the past, ...").

Re:NSA denies everything (2)

jbeaupre (752124) | about a year ago | (#45284269)

I think the Google engineers tried to parse what they were shown and ended up with a buffer overflow. What looks like profanity, "$!@#^$#$", is really injected code. They've been rooted by the NSA spamming The Post with leaks.

Re:NSA denies everything (3, Insightful)

BradMajors (995624) | about a year ago | (#45284293)

His statement is truthful. NSA did not go "into a server"; this story is about NSA obtaining data as it passed between servers.

Re:NSA denies everything (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45284305)

On the other hand, Alexander has no problem lying, too, even to Congress. See the famous exchange between him and Sen. Wyden about whether NSA collects information on Americans. He subsequently had to "clarify" his testimony, after leak-related stories showed he was lying through his teeth.

Re:NSA denies everything (4, Insightful)

reebmmm (939463) | about a year ago | (#45284055)

Here are my questions: why do they always talk about "authorization" when making denials? And why don't reporters call them out on it? This story is a classic example:

“NSA does collect information on terrorists and our national intelligence priorities but we are not authorized to go into a U.S. company’s servers and take data,” Alexander said.

That's great and all. But it's like a shoplifter saying, "sure I went into the store and looked around, but I wasn't authorized to take anything."

Re:NSA denies everything (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45284331)

And why don't reporters call them out on it?

Reporters are remarkably fucking stupid when it comes to follow-ups and whatnot. Watch any government press conference. You'll want to throw yourself out a window in frustration at how much they manage to miss.

Re:NSA denies everything (3, Insightful)

WaffleMonster (969671) | about a year ago | (#45284095)

Have to love the weasel word games. When asked question 'x' they skillfully reply with an answer to question 'y' ... Alexander has deployed this trick everywhere I have seen him speak publically.

When asked about bulk collection of metadata rather than respond to the actual question he instead proclaims reports of bulk content collection of US citizens are wrong.

When asked about tapping communications links between datacenters he says we are not directly in their servers.

Note vast differences between the questions asked and answers given.

One-end foreign (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45283739)

" popular U.S. websites routinely pass browsing activity to international servers. Even the House of Representatives website was sending traffic to London."

We at the NSA call that Traffic Engineering.

what's taking so long (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45283745)

Is there some reason the NSA is still around? Obliterate the agency, their criminal members, all associated, and be done with it!

"two engineers with close ties to Google responded with strings of profanity."

I guess the opening won't around for long. I read a few months ago Google was redoing their sharing networks, maybe they already knew.

Re:what's taking so long (4, Funny)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#45283785)

Is there some reason the NSA is still around?

Yes. They have a file on everyone in Congress.

Re:what's taking so long (4, Insightful)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | about a year ago | (#45284021)

Is there some reason the NSA is still around?

Yes. They have a file on everyone in Congress.

Not to mention that most of my fellow Americans are too poopy-pants afraid of teh terroristz to ever allow that to happen. If anybody in Congress tried to dismantle the NSA, you'd better believe that their next opponent would label them "soft on national security". That could be enough to swing many elections, thus you'll never see it done.

Re:what's taking so long (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#45284255)

That could be enough to swing many elections, thus you'll never see it done.

So long as the majority of people maintain that there are only 2 political parties to choose from, you will continue to be correct in this regard.

Re:what's taking so long (1)

w_dragon (1802458) | about a year ago | (#45284127)

This is bullshit. Even if they did have some dirt on every member of congress unless you only elect rapists and murderers there is no way that that kind of mass blackmail would work on the people holding the purse strings. The NSA continues to exist because they are useful. They provide information intelligence your leaders want, and this sort of mass surveillance means that they can provide information on anyone, even someone they didn't know would be interesting a day ago.

Reap what you sow (2, Informative)

sandytaru (1158959) | about a year ago | (#45283747)

Google (and the others) shrugged and played nice with the NSA, to what extent we don't know. They should have realized that the NSA didn't need their permission to get that data... they were getting it anyway. And a lot more.

I wonder if Google can sue? And if they can, will they?

Re:Reap what you sow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45283809)

I wonder if Google can sue? And if they can, will they?

Fuck no!

Why would Google Sue... (2)

ChainedFei (1054192) | about a year ago | (#45284105)

...When Google itself seems to believe you don't deserve to have certain kinds of privacy? (In regards to Schmidt and Gundotra's perspective that the service they are pushing, Google Plus, is supposed to be an identification service used to make sure that real user information is being used). Yes, this makes Google look bad, but it's also proof as to why not anonymizing yourself on the internet is stupid. (And yes, I realize that anonymization doesn't protect you from the NSA, but it is at least one additional layer of obfuscation, which apparently even Google should realize at this point is important).

New Acronym (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45283811)

NSA = Nothing Sacred Anymore

Re:New Acronym (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45284297)

Nothing Secure Anymore, surely

Do they get to sue the provider? (1)

saikou (211301) | about a year ago | (#45283815)

Unless, of course, there's a clause in there somewhere, that says "even though you have rented a fiber optics channel from A to B, we reserve the right to copy all the traffic that passes through and share it with third party" :) NSA is a third party, right?

Re:Do they get to sue the provider? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45283877)

Big Brother IS The Party, comrade.

Underwear drawer, too (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45283819)

Been sniffin' around in your mother's dirty laundary, too.

Origin of the term cloud (2)

butchcassidy1717 (1129219) | about a year ago | (#45283827)

This part made me laugh
To guard against data loss and system slowdowns, Google and Yahoo maintain fortress-like data centers across four continents and connect them with thousands of miles of fiber-optic cable. These globe-spanning networks, representing billions of dollars of investment, are known as “clouds” because data moves seamlessly around them

BOOSH!!!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45283829)

obviously started and perpetuated by Bush. I'm sure Obama is learning of this from the news just like us.

Re:BOOSH!!!! (2)

X0563511 (793323) | about a year ago | (#45283975)

I'm pretty sure they have all known about this for some time. This isn't a new thing.

US Marketing Ploy? (4, Interesting)

barlevg (2111272) | about a year ago | (#45283847)

From this article [washingtonpost.com] , an interesting rationale for why they would use MUSCULAR when they have PRISM:

There are some obvious reasons: The operations take place overseas, where many statutory restriction on surveillance don't apply -- and where the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Court (FISC) has no jurisdiction. In fact, the FISC ruled a similar, smaller scale program involving cables on U.S. territory illegal in 2011. So if the NSA decides to harvest that data on foreign soil, it can skip most of the oversight mechanisms.

We've seen a lot of articles recently about people demanding companies not host their data in the US so that they're not subject to PRISM. But if PRISM has more oversight than MUSCULAR, and MUSCULAR is only allowed to be used OFF of US soil, then it seems like the safest place for your data is in the US, after all.

Re:US Marketing Ploy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45283919)

Thank you very much, I prefer my back pocket.

Re:US Marketing Ploy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45284115)

No. If you don't move it, then they will continue to do whatever they want - which they may anyway

Move it offshore, preferably letting them know you are doing so, then encrypt it

Re:US Marketing Ploy? (3, Informative)

richardellisjr (584919) | about a year ago | (#45284159)

It doesn't matter either way. If they want data on US citizens they can just give the tech to the English who aren't restricted against spying on US citizens and then they'll share the data on each other's citizens. What we need is a Snowden in England to see if they are monitoring US citizens. Unfortunately we're pretty much screwed at this point. To the best of my knowledge no government has ever given up this level of power willingly.

Stop the trickle already (1)

bob_super (3391281) | about a year ago | (#45283891)

Can we simplify the process and just list which digital systems the NSA is NOT tapping?
At this point, just take 7 columns on every newspaper and a superbowl ad and say they listen to everything... Maybe the public might care.

They should be proud of themselves for a comprehensive job.
We have a lot of work to do at the ballot box. (it only that worked)

Re:Stop the trickle already (1)

fredrated (639554) | about a year ago | (#45283935)

How easily does your software handle an empty list?

Re:Stop the trickle already (1)

Kahenraz (2668959) | about a year ago | (#45284089)

Segmentation fault (core dumped)

Re:Stop the trickle already (1)

bob_super (3391281) | about a year ago | (#45284185)

It's a pretty divisive issue, therefore a NULL will make it a NaN.

Reasonable Expectation of Privacy (3, Interesting)

Bob9113 (14996) | about a year ago | (#45284071)

A lot of the NSA's pretense of innocence regarding metadata collection has been about expectation of privacy. They get information posessed by the telephone companies, not by private citizens. Since the information is already being given to the company by the citizen, the citizen has no reasonable expectation of privacy, and bulk metadata raises no 4th amendment issue.

This case defies that excuse. Those fiber optic cables are leased lines, over which Google and Yahoo have very reasonable expectations of privacy. So, if challenged, the government will either have to publish a different legal pretense or give Google and Yahoo some sort of sweetheart contract as hush money.

Perhaps I should go buy some GOOG and YHOO.

NSA = Nat'l Stassi Agency (1)

BoRegardless (721219) | about a year ago | (#45284085)

NSA is doing nothing its forbears weren't doing just "better."

Re:NSA = Nat'l Stassi Agency (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45284317)

It's why I'm glad I have a US passport. Someone was bound to do it. Just glad to be on the winning team.

It's time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45284125)

It's time to break inside the NSA, guys !

The post-it note (2)

barlevg (2111272) | about a year ago | (#45284209)

There's a "conspiracy theory" detail getting lost in all this discussion: the person who wrote the post-it note the Washington Post is featuring put a smiley face on the Google front-end server next to "SSL Added and Removed Here." To me, that says that they think that SSL encryption is just adorbs, implying they have a way to break it.

I have a theory, based on absolutely nothing.

I think a mathematician working for NSA solved Riemann's [wikipedia.org] years ago and, consequently, NSA can break any internet encryption [cornell.edu] .

I'm actually okay with this. But it seems awfully cruel to keep the proof secret from the poor mathematicians who've spent their lives trying to solve it.

'One-end foreign' : This is the NSA's *charter*! (1, Insightful)

DutchUncle (826473) | about a year ago | (#45284291)

This is what the NSA is SUPPOSED to do, what it was CREATED to do. There should not be any surprise at this. Of course, it was created in wartime and lasted into the cold war, when overseas contact was suspect.
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