Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

NSA Can Retrieve, Replay All Phone Calls From a Country From the Past 30 Days

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the can-you-hear-me-now? dept.

Privacy 320

An anonymous reader sends this news from the Washington Post: "The National Security Agency has built a surveillance system capable of recording '100 percent' of a foreign country's telephone calls, enabling the agency to rewind and review conversations as long as a month after they take place, according to people with direct knowledge of the effort and documents supplied by former contractor Edward Snowden. ... The voice interception program, called MYSTIC, began in 2009. Its RETRO tool, short for “retrospective retrieval,” and related projects reached full capacity against the first target nation in 2011. Planning documents two years later anticipated similar operations elsewhere."

cancel ×

320 comments

thee jews have won (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46519571)

finish hitler's work or forever hold your peace, you impotent goyim

First post! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46519573)

:)

How? (4, Interesting)

Bradmont (513167) | about 4 months ago | (#46519577)

So do they have the cooperation of the target country? Or have the infiltrated the entire communications infrastructure of the world? This is really creepy.

Re:How? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46519649)

Surely you jest. This is all done without the cooperation of the target country.

What the report fails to mention is that this program was first tested out on internal US telecommunications networks and has 5+ years of full content of all calls in the US dating to late 2008. This program is ongoing in the US.

Re:How? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46519721)

source??

Re:How? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46520027)

Duh. Bush's Fault, it has to be.

Re:How? (3, Funny)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 4 months ago | (#46520055)

Nope, sorry. The NSA projects are not open source.

Re:How? (5, Insightful)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | about 4 months ago | (#46519651)

Co-operation? I highly, highly doubt that.

I can see only two possibilities for how the NSA could collect every single phone call of an entire country, such that the Washington Post would agree not to publish the name of the country. One is that it's something like North Korea where the infrastructure is really weak and there might conceivably be only a handful of points where all telephone calls pass through. If a covert team on the ground were able to splice those fibres, or hack the telephone equipment remotely, and somehow duplicate the internal traffic onto fibres heading out of the country , I can see they could be intercepted at that point.

The other possibility is that it's a small country that's supposed to be "allied" (Washington does not really have allies), like Belgium, seat of the EU. We know that GCHQ hacked Belgacom pretty badly. Undoubtably the NSA has done the same with other telcos. In this case, the WashPo agrees not to disclose it to avoid causing even more severe diplomatic fallout (though this was apparently not a concern so far). For a small but modern country it's quite feasible to imagine hacked telephone equipment simply sending all phone call data out over the internet or a fibre that's meant to be dark without anyone actually noticing, as phone calls are relatively low bandwidth.

Regardless, this is pretty amazing. Every time I think these fuckers can't get any creepier, they do. First OPTIC NERVE and now this.

These stories always leave me depressed. It's clear nothing is going to happen, the politicians all seem to be creaming themselves over these powers and can't wait to legalise it all ... then they can conveniently go after anyone who is breaking their collection with crypto.

Re:How? (3, Informative)

amorsen (7485) | about 4 months ago | (#46519701)

the infrastructure is really weak and there might conceivably be only a handful of points where all telephone calls pass through.

The opposite is happening. Denmark had PSTN switches in hundreds or thousands of locations for PSTN. The switches for the cell phone network that handles most of the calls on the other hand are in just a few locations per operator. Today it is easy to do the call handling of hundreds of thousands of simultaneous calls in a single location.

You can still route the voice data directly from cell tower to cell tower, at least with some technologies, but the benefits of doing so are not great anymore.

Re:How? (5, Insightful)

MrBigInThePants (624986) | about 4 months ago | (#46519825)

You are not depressed enough. ;)

What is far more scary is the trajectory of all of this - they are light years ahead of where we thought they were in the inevitable decent into a police state.
If you had made such claims about the NSA a few years ago on slashdot you would have been ridiculed and marked a troll. It would have been unbelievable to most.
(NB: I am NOT saying this justifies making unsubstantiated claims about the future though)

But where will they be in 5-10 years when they are better at hiding their activities? I am not saying I know and I am not a conspiracy theorist but to be honest whatever it is it looks pretty grim.

We now also know that one of the NSA's primary functions is squashing political dissent and corporate espionage so this is not limited to terrorists etc.

We already knew that the US engaged in this (assuredly with the help of the NSA) and more:
  - Manipulations in places such as South America resulting in countless deaths.
  - Presidential writs for assassination
  - Lying about WMD in Iraq
  - Drone attacks on civilians
  - State authorised torture
  - Mass surveillance
  - etc etc
And this is just what we know to be true...

So what is even scarier still is that this is paralleled by the advance of drones and robotics. They just took the governors off R&D on weaponised robots. This includes law enforcement application such as for riots.

Looking at all this and the complete lack of traction in undoing or slowing down any of it where do you think this is all going? No place good.

NB: This looks like I am very anti american. I am not. I am anti-super power. I have no delusions that China or Russia are any better for mostly the same reasons.

Re:How? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46519883)

Man what a picture you paint. Well, at least when you reach hell you'll be able to suck Stalin's dick. Oh, and Chávez might just be there to take lovely care of your bottom. Just make a happy face like all useful idiots do, and say it tastes like strawberries and it's feels big like a horse. NB: That NB of yours didn't work for me, sorry.

Re:How? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46519987)

Man what a picture you paint. Well, at least when you reach hell you'll be able to suck Stalin's dick. Oh, and Chávez might just be there to take lovely care of your bottom. Just make a happy face like all useful idiots do, and say it tastes like strawberries and it's feels big like a horse. NB: That NB of yours didn't work for me, sorry.

ColdFjord, do us all a favor and drink some Drano.

**criminal elements of...** (2, Interesting)

globaljustin (574257) | about 4 months ago | (#46519975)

I hear you...you're don't sound like a nutcase **to me**...you go a bit off on a few of your list there but that's not why i'm writing.

It's wrong to say "the US government"

Our government is the best system yet implemented.

The problem is criminality. Even if it goes up to the President (and it surely has...many times...recently) that does not mean that **our system of governmance** is faulty.

Our economic system (hardcore captialism) may surely encourage bribery...but in totalitarian communist countries you find examples of **more** bribery comparitively...or at least equal ammounts

YES...the CIA "dealt crack" in the 80s, research brainwashing, etc etc...and maybe that whole organization has been rotten from the start but it doesn't define **what the good people are trying to do**

According to its stated documents, the US of A could be the *best country in the world*....we have a *long way to go* but our problems arent because of our system...its b/c our **system is infected**

Yes, the "infected system" line could be used for any country's problems...but precisely because the US has so many channels in place for **the people** to do the right thing...because we have the *power to change* means we are held to a higher standard than say, North Korea or Ukraine

We can clean house...we can get rid of the criminals in our governemnt...the sun will still rise, and we will have ****NEW PROBLEMS****....that's progress!

Re:**criminal elements of...** (5, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 4 months ago | (#46520181)

It's wrong to say "the US government"

Our government is the best system yet implemented.

The problem is criminality. Even if it goes up to the President (and it surely has...many times...recently) that does not mean that **our system of governance** is faulty.

A good system of governance should transparently expose, prevent, stop, and/or negate criminality.
The fact that ours doesn't is a combination of weak oversight and poor internal culture.
Having the "best" faulty government is not the same as having a good government.

I'd also happily debate your claims that our government is the best system yet implemented.
By itself, our dual party system (and the way they shut out 3rd parties) is cause for serious complaint.

Re:**criminal elements of...** (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46520229)

Our government is the best system yet implemented.

Yeah Plutocracy FTW, seriously that is what your government represents, now go back and chant USA USA! with the rest of the brainwashed population.

Re:**criminal elements of...** (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46520269)

If you believe the US government is the best system yet implemented, you are sadly uneducated about the rest of the world.

Re:**criminal elements of...** (5, Interesting)

dryeo (100693) | about 4 months ago | (#46520395)

Our government is the best system yet implemented

You are joking aren't you? Or perhaps you really believe a system of government invented close to 250 years ago and barely tweeked since then is perfect and there has been no advances in government since then?
There are serious problems with the American government leading to the current inverted totalitarian state, a state with 1% of its population in prison, a state that removes basic rights from those incarcerated people so they can never take part in regular society, a state with 2 parties that are basically 2 wings of one party, a party of the rich (how much money does it take to run for office and how do they acquire that money), a government that treats its constitution as toilet paper as it is too hard to change or follow, a government with the best propaganda machine ever seen, even though it has been out sourced to private industry, a government that strives to have a population who are not into politics, a government that can produce people like you who parrot talking points like "having the best government ever invented" without knowing anything about other forms of democracies and probably just internally comparing to various regular totalitarian states.

Re:How? (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 4 months ago | (#46520031)

If you had made such claims about the NSA a few years ago on slashdot you would have been ridiculed and marked a troll. It would have been unbelievable to most. (NB: I am NOT saying this justifies making unsubstantiated claims about the future though)

But where will they be in 5-10 years when they are better at hiding their activities? I am not saying I know and I am not a conspiracy theorist but to be honest whatever it is it looks pretty grim.

The only reasonable thing to do at this point is that if something is imaginable and technically possible (and not some CSI/sci-fi BS) then we should assume the NSA is already doing it.

technically it could be done many ways (2)

globaljustin (574257) | about 4 months ago | (#46519905)

I can see only two possibilities for how the NSA could collect every single phone call of an entire country,

my first reaction was "wow" but I was amazed that *the scope* not the technical ability

from a network engineering perspective, those calls have to go through certain nodes and pathways...

all are potential points of intercept...one concept you missed is **multiple collection methods**...they could do both of what you suggested combined with any of the following other possibilities:

1. Submarines...every "phone call" (this excludes things like google talk to skype) has to go specific routing points on the coast...subs can but a signal analyzer on the seafloor cables

2. Aircraft...esp blimps/drones...and satellites

3. passive collectors...at major routing nodes...again these are on the coastline...you could put a passive, satellite-operated device that sends the data being recorded up to space in real time

Re:technically it could be done many ways (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46520085)

4 you just force american companies to give you back doors into carrier grade routing hardware

Re:How? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46520075)

I can see only two possibilities for how the NSA could collect every single phone call of an entire country, such that the Washington Post would agree not to publish the name of the country.

Surely it's the UK...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R... [wikipedia.org]

I agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46520099)

It's not realistic for a country that does have more than one central telecom company.
In most western country you have hundreds of providers, some big, others small, regional and voip-providers. Nobody routes calls between two customers through external peerings because you'd have to pay for that.
That means "all calls" means "a majority of calls" or the NSA hacked _every_ carrier, big and small, in the country.

Re:How? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46520141)

This is starting to sound worse than the Watergate scandal and that's not good for the US.

Re:How? (1)

ihtoit (3393327) | about 4 months ago | (#46519707)

they probably won't be seeking permission, they'll more likely be tasking the system as the political landscape changes. Exchanges switching to IP-PBX from traditional PBX would make the task far easier, they'd just intercept the trunk via the Internet and pull the whole lot in one go instead of having to locate a specific physical point to carry out the intercept. This latest revelation sure is a step up from simply logging call endpoints and durations, though. We're into tinfoil territory here (though I do know from observing it myself that the police can access cellular location data - which in 2010 was accurate to 3 metres 24/7 and retained for well over a year - for use in evidence, and they apparently don't need a warrant to do it (R -v- Stafford A (arson, attempted quadruple murder))).

Re:How? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46519805)

Why would the NSA need or want the cooperation of the target country? This kind of activity, *foreign* surveillance, is exactly what the NSA is supposed to do. Indeed, it's what intelligence agencies exist for, and not merely those in the US.

It is literally the NSA's job to infiltrate the communications infrastructure of the world. They're just supposed to stay out of the US.

There are agencies in Russia and China that literally have the job of infiltrating infrastructure in the US (as well as the rest of the world). That's what these agencies exist to do. I hope that is not a shocking disclosure to you.

You should expect that any action you take that can be monitored electronically, likely is monitored by upwards of half a dozen methods. That doesn't mean anyone will ever care enough, before it gets deleted, to actually look at what data was collected about you (or even find the data collected about you amongst the data collected about everone else), but almost everyone is surveilled.

Why you need friends (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 4 months ago | (#46520043)

The need or want the cooperation makes fixing local splitting sites at national exchanges easy.
Cleared US staff can move in and out guided in by chosen locals to ensure any upgrades or changes do not halt US data collection.
Infiltrate the communications infrastructure of the world gets tricky due to upgrades, skilled local staff who are not aware of their countries tap points finding sites, rooms and then asking questions.
Much better for the NSA to work with top locals, have them tell all staff that a site is for their own national security, law enfacement and read in a few top staff about all data flowing to the USA.

Re:How? (1)

gIobaljustin (3526197) | about 4 months ago | (#46520491)

People who are worthless cowards defend the NSA's activities by saying "That's their job!" That isn't a defense at all. If their job is to violate the privacy of innocent people haphazardly, foreign or not, then their job is morally wrong.

Entire communications infrastructure (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 4 months ago | (#46520011)

Is really the key idea. From the old cold war NATO access in countries, shared facilities and generations of helpful local staff. Add in the new NATO countries, Asia, South America, Africa - somewhere cheap new communications loops will have a US or US friendly site to tap.
Nations get cheap deals to replace ageing telco tech thats US price peering friendly and very NSA friendly.
Cooperation of the target country can be one site with the skilled locals thinking its their own govs efforts.
Cooperation of the target a few surrounding nations can be sites with the skilled locals thinking its their own govs efforts.
As long as the NSA can have a site thats physically near some trunk line and political cover from the host nations gov.
http://cryptome.org/2014/03/ns... [cryptome.org] has the hint :
Few staff know, long term, local and other nations get US export grade mil tech as a swap.
Its ECHELON for web 2.0 and the ability to fake a host, break junk standard web encryption and a few other methods.

Re:How? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46520013)

cisco

Re:How? (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 4 months ago | (#46520105)

Most countries are easy targets. They have a national phone company and all traffic passes through them. Subvert that company and you'd have all the traffic. In the US it'd be harder. Our phone networks very distributed. There's lots of big, medium and small phone companies all over the place. The equipments different from state to state, town to town and even from house to house. Canada for example would be much easier for them to do this sort of thing in than the US. In Canada there's 1 phone company. When they buy a POTs card... they buy 1 kind of card for the whole country. When they invest in fiber, it's the same fiber tech everywhere. They have 1 plant records system (Martens) and 1 billing system. Come to the US and some phone companies are still keeping track of their plant in spiral notebooks.

Though I don't doubt they're well on their way to solving these difficulties given the enormity of their resources. Had you asked me 5yrs ago if this was possible I'd have said no. But I had no grasp of the level of corruption the NSA had managed to spread throughout the corporate world.

Re:How? (1)

thebigmacd (545973) | about 4 months ago | (#46520473)

Canada has one phone company, because the following are not Canadian phone companies: [/sarcasm]
Bell Aliant - Made up of MT&T, NewTel, NBTel and IslandTel
BabyTEL
Bell Canada
BoltonSmith
Brooke Telecom
Bruce Municipal Telephone Service
Chatr
CityWest
Cogeco
DMTS
Eastlink
Execulink Telecom
Fibernetics Corporation/Freephoneline.ca
Fido
Gosfield North Communications Co-op
Ice Wireless
Inline Communications
Iristel
Lynx Mobility
Manitoba Telecom Services/MTS Allstream
North Renfrew Telephone Company
NorthernTel
Northwestel
Novus
Ormuco
Ontera
Primus Canada
Quadro
Rogers Telecom
SaskTel
Shaw Communications
Sogetel
Start Communications
Télébec
TELUS - Made up of BCTel, AGT & ED Tel
TBayTel
Vidéotron
Wightman Telecom

Re:How? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46520227)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tier_1_network#List_of_tier_1_networks start there and the smaller ones fall into place

Re:How? (1)

Jack Griffin (3459907) | about 4 months ago | (#46520371)

You have to admit though, that besides all the creepy stuff, the technology behind it all must be pretty cool. Every story I read about the NSA impresses me with how much reach they actually have, and how much tech must go into making it work. I'm reading Arthur C Clarke's Trigger right now, it's all very relevant for a 15 year old book.

Still think Big Data is great? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46519593)

Think again.

Its ok. (4, Insightful)

NettiWelho (1147351) | about 4 months ago | (#46519595)

Well this is a truly shocking revelation noone saw coming.

NSA will probably claim they only use their power to create rainbows and heal sick puppies.

Re:Its ok. (1, Funny)

reboot246 (623534) | about 4 months ago | (#46519875)

Which Noone saw it coming? Peter Noone? Does he work in intelligence nowadays?

Just yanking your chain. I do agree with you, but I have no mod points today.

Re:Its ok. (0)

cold fjord (826450) | about 4 months ago | (#46519913)

NSA will probably claim they only use their power to create rainbows and heal sick puppies.

I doubt it. That power is already claimed by Russia for use in Crimea, and soon Ukraine. You should be able to tell how successful the rainbows and puppy healing are from the voting the other day since 97% of the voters decided to join Russia. That is only down 2% from Soviet levels, and only 3% down from North Korean leader levels.

The NSA will probably claim they were doing their job. Go figure.

Re:Its ok. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46520361)

Wrong thread, dude. Today's Russian/Crimea rigamarole is here. [slashdot.org]

Oh wait...were you trying to spin the subject of this conversation towards the evil Russians and their plans for world domination? In that case, carry on with your noble efforts.

Re:Its ok. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46520427)

Looks like you missed that last line: "The NSA will probably claim they were doing their job. Go figure."

Looks like it was addressing the previous post to me.

Re:Its ok. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46520375)

fjord, you dullard, you can argue that Putin's a cunt and the people of Crimea are stupid, but all the evidence suggests that the people of Crimea want to be part of Russia rather than the EUkraine.

Obvious negligence. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46520091)

With the data-monitoring capacity that has been revealed, we would expect law enforcement and anti-terrorisim efforts to be much more successful than they have been.

In fact, evidence indicates that the NSA has mostly just been sitting on all this and not using any of it to fight crime.

My hypothesis is that most of this monitoring is used to ensure that well-established businesses (and governing agencies) remain well-established and empowered to further their wealth.

Those who have power *always* abuse it.

How about... Malaysia? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46519607)

Might answer some outstanding questions...

Re: How about... Malaysia? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46519677)

Are we really supposed to believe that 13 years after 9/11 that the US doesn't know the location of every airborne plane in the world? Would it really be that hard compared to some of the supposed capabilities of the NSA we've been hearing about lately. The plane crashed, everyone is dead, the NSA has no incentive to help locate the wreckage as that will simply give away the secret capability. Lose a plane in the Atlantic Ocean bound for the United States and watch how fast it turns up.

Re: How about... Malaysia? (1)

TangoMargarine (1617195) | about 4 months ago | (#46519843)

Are we really supposed to believe that 13 years after 9/11 that the US doesn't know the location of every airborne plane in the world?

Yes. I think we're rather flying headlong into the perfect governmental competency fallacy in this article.

If an aircraft turns off all its identification gear, how do you locate it? Send a few recon planes up to locate it physically? Task a satellite to look? Why should we give a flying fuck about every single flight in the world that doesn't intersect the U.S.? A commercial airliner taking off in e.g. Kazahkstan and headed for Pakistan is never going to have remotely enough fuel to get anywhere near the U.S. even if they wanted to.

Re: How about... Malaysia? (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 4 months ago | (#46520089)

If an aircraft turns off all its identification gear, how do you locate it?

At time t = 0, you have a radar blip at position x with velocity v that's broadcasting an ID. At t = 1, you have a radar blip at position x + v * t that's not broadcasting an ID. Gee, I wonder what the ID could be?

Re: How about... Malaysia? (2)

Rossman (593924) | about 4 months ago | (#46520231)

NORAD claims to monitor all flying objects around the entire earth, from ground level to 22,000 miles above the surface. They do not disclose however, how they are able to achieve that.

Re: How about... Malaysia? (1)

able1234au (995975) | about 4 months ago | (#46520471)

perhaps with the lost Malaysian flight they know where it is but can't say so they don't reveal the capability. or.. they don't know.

Re: How about... Malaysia? (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 4 months ago | (#46520021)

Are we really supposed to believe that 13 years after 9/11 that the US doesn't know the location of every airborne plane in the world?

Yep, physics is what physics is. Radar doesn't work though ground or water. If the aircraft isn't above the horizon for the radar, you won't see it. There are literally hundreds of thousands of aircraft aloft at any one time in the world. Many of these are over large expanses of water, where radar stations simply don't exist and never will.

Now, I'm not saying we cannot track a target aircraft if we wanted too, but why would the US want to track a commercial aircraft, literally half a world away? Total waste of time and money. If it was inside the radar coverage of the US mainland, we'd know where it was, but over the Indian ocean, it could crash, scatter in to a million pieces and we'd never find a piece of it until they started washing up on shore someplace.

My theory is that they had a fire and turned back towards Lapangan Terbang Sultan Ismail Petra outside of Kota Bharu Malaysia. Then, for some reason, they lost control of the aircraft, likely due to the fire progressing though the electrical systems. Once control was lost, everything stayed pretty much where they where and because commercial aircraft are generally stable they continued to fly in the same general direction until they ran out of fuel. This puts them almost due west of Perth which matches the ACARS "ping" distance fairly well. Debris field should be small as the aircraft will have hit the water at very high speed and be all in one small area. We will be lucky to find this one.

Re: How about... Malaysia? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46520083)

why would the US want to track a commercial aircraft, literally half a world away?

For the same reasons the US would want to record all phone calls from a country half a world away from the past 30 days?

Foreign country? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46519613)

That coupled with the claims made on CNN by an ex FBI counterterrorism agent during the Boston Marathon Bombing investigation
http://www.theguardian.com/com... [theguardian.com]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]
Really makes you wonder how far this really goes...

Re:Foreign country? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46519641)

Dude, it's a scare tactic, that chump on youtube is doing a typical interrogation scare tactic which really indicates the FBI doesn't know shit. If the contents "will be known" then why are you asking her? Why don't you just go get it from the NSA? The police always pull that shit. Just confess now and we'll go easy on you, we already know you did it, so why don't you just tell us what happened...no. Fuck you, pig.

What they don't tell you is it's Canada. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46519627)

And all it took was five guys and a pickup truck to accomplish it.

Foreign? :) (1)

udachny (2454394) | about 4 months ago | (#46519637)

The National Security Agency has built a surveillance system capable of recording âoe100 percentâ of a foreign countryâ(TM)s telephone calls

- sure, sure, 'foreign'. Maybe they can do it in a foreign country, maybe they can't, but you can be damn certain that is what they are doing in the USA.

No Matter What NSA Can Do (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46519661)

Whether this is true or not, it is exactly the kind of story one would precipitate if he or she was attempting to reek destruction upon the US nation of good people. So, FUCK OFF

Grabbing that metadata. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46519665)

At the request of U.S. officials, The Washington Post is withholding details that could be used to identify the country where the system is being employed or other countries where its use was envisioned.

Protip: It's the US.

Stupid Republicans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46519669)

The system of raping our rights that they created is amazing. Also amazing is how effective they are at forcing Obama to continue it. Imagine how much worse things would be if Palin was elected President. She was the one that created the plan, along with Tom Clancy, for Russia to use with their invasion of Ukraine. This is her fault.

Re:Stupid Republicans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46519775)

Jews are neither Democratic or Republican, they are Israeli. Until our government is American again the trampling of American rights will continue.

Unclassified FOUO? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46519671)

Either the NSA is grossly incompetent (surprisingly likely) or this is deliberate counter-intelligence.

get real (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46519673)

If you really think this is confined to just one or two countries... how naive is that.

Seriously - why WOULDN't they already be capturing everything that is said, heard, posted or read or clicked on anything electronic.
- cause they "cannot" from a technical standpoint ? (c'mon... seriously ?)
- cause they wouldn't "want" to ? (again - that's a bad joke)
- cause they just wouldn't feel right about it from a constitutional standpoint ? (the saddest laugh of all)

And if you you don't realize that every major dot-com is complicit in all this big brother stuff just think about how increasingly tough it is to post comments "anonymously". I feel embarrassed for mocking the foil hat guys all these years.

Re:get real (1)

TangoMargarine (1617195) | about 4 months ago | (#46519929)

- cause they "cannot" from a technical standpoint ? (c'mon... seriously ?)

7 billion people on Earth. Say 10% are on the phone at any given time.
Say 1/8 MB/min with whatever cell phone codec? 128kbps mp3 is around a meg a minute, right? And cell phone codecs are compressed all to hell.

7 billion * 10% * 1/8 * 60 min * 24 hours * 30 days = 3.78 trillion megabytes = 3,520 petabytes.

And that's just storage to keep on hand. Not to mention the bandwidth required to stream 117 petabytes/day to the servers.

"Sir, if we could just have you look at this little blue light right here, we'll explain everything..."

Re:get real (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | about 4 months ago | (#46520037)

7 billion people on Earth. Say 10% are on the phone at any given time.

Why would I say that 10% are on the phone at any given time? I would be laughed at for making up an outlandishly liberal number.

Who the fuck is averaging 2.4 hours per day on the phone? maybe someone whose job it is to be on the phone all day... but nobody fucking else. Now you might want to show an exception to this, but it would just be the exception that proves the rule. The rule is that you are so incredibly bad at making things up that you don't even notice when you just claimed that on average, the average person on earth is on the phone 2.4 hour per day. This average includes the billions of people without a phone at all, so really you are saying that the average person that actually owns a cell phone is talking on it for 4 hours a day or whatever.

Here is a tip: If you want to play the "I can calculate that" game, why not while "calculating that" also calculate the numbers you start with, rather than pulling them out of your ass.

Re:get real (1)

godel_56 (1287256) | about 4 months ago | (#46520149)

7 billion people on Earth. Say 10% are on the phone at any given time. Say 1/8 MB/min with whatever cell phone codec? 128kbps mp3 is around a meg a minute, right? And cell phone codecs are compressed all to hell.

7 billion * 10% * 1/8 * 60 min * 24 hours * 30 days = 3.78 trillion megabytes = 3,520 petabytes.

And that's just storage to keep on hand. Not to mention the bandwidth required to stream 117 petabytes/day to the servers.

"Sir, if we could just have you look at this little blue light right here, we'll explain everything..."

This reference for a GSM codec states bit rates of 1.6KB/s down to 0.59KB/s. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A... [wikipedia.org]

Additionally the speech is likely to be pre-processed from audio to text for storage. Final data could be as low as tens of bytes a second. One estimate was that the entire telephone speech data of the US could be stored for as little as $30 million a year in hardware costs. For the NSA that's petty cash.

From a constitutional standpoint: (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 4 months ago | (#46520125)

You are fully protected in the USA.
No color of law, amended law, paragraph, subsection, clause, letter, finding, order, secret order, contract, legal sock puppet, amendment or press talking points can legally get around the Fourth Amendment.
Good US legal teams have been working hard on this in open court :)
http://www.freedomwatchusa.org... [freedomwatchusa.org]
The real fun starts with the next gen technical and legal vision of: 30 days becomes 30 months then 30 years then a lifetime of digital recall before sealed US courts.

Google search is already doing that: (0)

Etrahkad (1399575) | about 4 months ago | (#46519685)

Put your android or apple phone in front of you. Say a word that you normally wouldn't say. Repeat it 3 times. Start typing it in google search. Google pulls it up pretty quickly but it is normally #3 in the list the word that you said. Is it perfect...no. Google search app mind you. And yes I tested this on an IPhone 4, not 4s+ (no siri). What I'm upset about is... how much of my reported bandwidth that Cox is forcing down my throat this "feature". Am I currently paying for google to throw advertising (or selling my info)? Trolls... yes you have to have internet.

Re:Google search is already doing that: (1)

glasshole (3569269) | about 4 months ago | (#46519799)

Um, what? I can assure you this isn't happening on an iPhone, and I'm 99% sure it isn't on Android either. Maybe if you're doing a voice search on either platform, but not otherwise. Plenty of people have completely rooted their phones and can watch all the data in and out.

Re:Google search is already doing that: (1)

Adam Colley (3026155) | about 4 months ago | (#46519945)

Aye, the CPU and bandwidth requirements would be non-trivial

I call FUD on the above, surprising there's anything left to call FUD on at this point -.o;

Traitors (0, Troll)

Jeff Flanagan (2981883) | about 4 months ago | (#46519687)

It would be cooler if we didn't have traitors revealing our spying capabilities.

I understand the anger about the gov spying inappropriately in the US, but spying on other countries is actually the NSA's job.

Re:Traitors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46519719)

If they wanted this secret, maybe they would have classified it?

Re:Traitors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46519739)

Are you high? It was classified.

Re:Traitors (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46519771)

Three places on the cover of the presentation it's "Unclassified, For Official Use Only". That really just means it can't get released by a FOIA request. Foreign nationals can see this. It can be bandied about in unsecured areas. If it was classified at one point in time, it was declassified by the NSA.

Re:Traitors (2)

jovius (974690) | about 4 months ago | (#46519747)

It's their job. That's actually the defense many use when they are blamed of taking part in atrocities. It was my duty, it was my job. One way to externalize oneself from what's happening, and from the moral and ethical dilemmas. The fact that ones duty is to maintain an undemocratic bureaucratic structure should be proof enough that the system is rotten from inside. The human interaction can be structured in multitude of ways.

Re:Traitors (1)

organgtool (966989) | about 4 months ago | (#46519953)

Actually, the usual saying is "I was only following orders" and is usually meant to rationalize behavior of people in organizations that started out somewhat innocuous but descended into immorality. In this case, we found out that an agency that was created from the outset to spy on other countries is currently spying on other countries. Out of all of the horrible things that have been revealed about the NSA, this is the least surprising.

Re:Traitors (1)

melchoir55 (218842) | about 4 months ago | (#46519791)

They aren't "our" spying capabilities. One of the reasons people are upset with the situation is that the NSA is indiscriminate in their targets. American citizens are just as open to attack as foreign citizens. Those spying capabilities belong to an organization accountable to no one with dirt on everyone alive. If their interests happen to align with those of the American People, great. If they don't, too bad for the American People, because it is damn hard to reign an organization with the sweeping level of knowledge now possessed by the NSA.

The NSA is only still associated with the American people in the sense that it funds itself in large part with tax money taken from those Americans.

Re:Traitors (0)

reve_etrange (2377702) | about 4 months ago | (#46520211)

The NSA is only still associated with the American people in the sense that it funds itself in large part with tax money taken from those Americans.

Not even that. Federal spending is not "funded" by tax money. Indeed, the IRS destroys the money it collects. The federal government finances spending by printing money. Taxes are just to create demand for money, and to control inflation.

If time machines exist, what should warrants mean? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46519697)

The problem with all of this is that warrants used to mean that if you had reasonable suspicion, you could ask nicely, and if you found something that gave you probable cause, you could get a search warrant.

The unstated assumption is that only the things you find after you get the search warrant are admissible. The assumption was unstated because time machines didn't exist.

If you bury the body and bleach the walls, the prosecution finds no blood. (The cops can find a dozen empty containers of bleach, and ask you why all your wallpaper is sparkling white, and that's still a pretty good foundation on which to build a case. Reasonable people don't bleach their ceilings with a mop.) You can wiretap the guy, but if he's already made the incriminating phone call to his very good friend with the pig farm, it's not going to help the prosecution very much unless the suspect is dumb enough to do it again. Hey, guess what? Law enforcement isn't supposed to be easy.

We now have the ability to quite literally go back in time and look at everything someone ever said, preceding the time at which the warrant was issued.

Legally, there's no time machine, you're just looking at the (nonpublic) permanent record of everything everybody ever said to anybody ever. But qualitatively, being able to go into the past and drag things up, even from private communications where both speakers had a reasonable expectation of privacy, appears to fundamentally change the definition of a warrant, of discovery, and so on.

The whole concept of investigation has changed, and it makes the question "Are you now, or have you ever been, a [politically-undesirable / criminal]?" just got a whole lot murkier. I think that's the issue upon which the Supremes may ultimately have to rule.

It's one thing to say "John Spartan, you have been fined one credit for violating the verbal morality statute." It's quite another to say "...for something you uttered on January 23, 1996."

Re:If time machines exist, what should warrants me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46519959)

Warrants mean nothing for tapping foreign, non-US people outside of the US. They have never been required for such an operation. The ??? agencies have always claimed they could tap any international calls and were legally allowed to do so so long as one of the parties wasn't a US citizen. That has been public for years before any leaks started.

Re:If time machines exist, what should warrants me (1)

TangoMargarine (1617195) | about 4 months ago | (#46519967)

+1 Actually Using Time Travel Relevantly In A Serious Discussion

Cue discussion about Minority Report and Pre-Crime. Hey, both are (supposed to be) deterministic...

Re:If time machines exist, what should warrants me (1)

bussdriver (620565) | about 4 months ago | (#46520291)

Ex post facto. As far as new laws; unless they ignore the constitution, they can't apply new laws to anything you did before that law as passed. Just hope they have valid timestamps.

Somehow at some point we decided our constitutional limitations only apply to citizens (laying aside present violations) and ignore the "unalienable rights" and how it prohibits government rather than assigns human rights.

Re:If time machines exist, what should warrants me (1)

Idbar (1034346) | about 4 months ago | (#46520467)

One part is that they can go back and look for anything that may sound incriminating and use it. Like the quote: "If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him."

The other, is, how easy is to "plant" evidence that only they have access to?

Re:If time machines exist, what should warrants me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46520507)

Doesn't this verge into that, 'panopticon' realm I've heard here before? (I don't recall if it was from a book.. Gibson have something to do with it? Or was it Huxley?)

Either way, with regard to the rest of fast moving technology, the law will continue to be VERY far behind in all this. Even if the Legislative could get something through wrangling even part of this surveillance state in, I'm highly doubtful the Executive would sign off. I emphasis parts of the US Government here, because D and R next to these peoples names really have no meaning when we're speaking on this topic. As far as I can tell, short of drastic and sweeping initiatives, most of this information gathering will continue for at least 2 more Executive Administrations. I say that, because SCOTUS might have new members by then. This of course implies there's hope that they'd even consider to rule an opinion on the matter...

It's a blackhole for continuing that argument, but my point is, wasn't this sort of realistic surveillance singularity seen quite a while back? Does that mean it was inevitable, or that apathy within Democracy was too great to stop it?

CALEA? (1)

sehlat (180760) | about 4 months ago | (#46519703)

The Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act was passed in 1994. Just how much equipment with mandated-by-US-law security holes WAS sold to foreign countries.

Most of it (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 4 months ago | (#46520221)

The US did not want to see expensive US equipment mandated-by-US laws been frozen out of international markets with new US only costs.
With some effort the US ensured other telcos would upgrade to equipment of a US interception standard as part of the law enforcement laws/letter/understanding/trade deals.
No US telco exporter left behind.
Junk encryption for many telcos, their govs, the US gov, fun for ex staff, other nations spies, criminals with cash from the mid 1990's on :)

And the "Target" Country is..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46519725)

USA. For these sleazeballs, own country has become "foreign" long time ago.

Re:And the "Target" Country is..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46519927)

Probably not. Most likely it is a country the US considers an "ally".

These days I wonder if the US even understands what that term really means.

Seriously? (1)

thechanklybore (1091971) | about 4 months ago | (#46519729)

You've got to hand it to them. If any team/person/mutant managed to create such a program then IT MUST BE USED.

Please don't feed the trolls (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46519777)

This is nothing but speculative garbage.

I imagine a lot more. (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 4 months ago | (#46519809)

If they are willing to spend the resources to store thirty days of phone calls, they probably are storing a lot more than thirty days of textual data - text takes up very little space. I imagine every SMS message, email and IM communication they can obtain is kept for a few years.

This is a good chance to plug Retroshare. Go get it. Tell your friends to get it. Annoy the NSA with an IM program even they can't monitor on a large scale.

This one is a no brainer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46519819)

What is obvious is that the collection of the calls is done not in one particular country, but in multiple countries. Heck, remember UK's Tempora? UK kept and spied their own phone calls for a month back in 2008. Germany had much more robust infrastructure back then. Now, you think Iraq does not have this program? US taxpayers spent tons of money to build there, so you can be sure we put some telecommunication servers too. This Washington Post revelation is misleading as it makes you believe that there is one country, the victim, while in reality most of the contents worldwide is sitting in the buffer.

This is awesome (1)

Mabhatter (126906) | about 4 months ago | (#46519871)

I've wanted backups of my stuff for a long time. Hopefully the NSA can commercialize this and allow us to retrieve our conversations whenever we want. This is way better than the never forgetting GoogleMind or FaceBook! Imagine the possibilities.. when you promised your kid ice-cream for good grades last month, they can look it up and call you out for cheating them!

Metadata? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46519879)

Ah, so it's not just metadata

In unrelated news... (4, Insightful)

QilessQi (2044624) | about 4 months ago | (#46519881)

...all domestic telephone calls will be routed through Great Britain from now on.

Re:In unrelated news... (1)

Adam Colley (3026155) | about 4 months ago | (#46519979)

Hey

We have our own problems thankyou -.-

Hope and change (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46519909)

Wasn't that Obama's slogan?

His government is no better than Bush Jr.'s

2009 - looks like another problem from BUSH (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46519957)

Typical Dubya era program. Good think Obama stepped in in 2009 and put an end to it before it actually began. Right?

30 days? Try 30 years. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46519961)

It frankly wouldn't surprise me if it turned out that they actually have full records of every single phone call placed anywhere in the world since the birth of the telephone, or at least since the 1930s or so. I would definitely be very surprised to hear they can't play back any call made in the USA since the 1970s or so.

Here's one of the replays: (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 4 months ago | (#46519991)

We're so sorry, Uncle Albert,
We're so sorry if we caused you any pain.
We're so sorry Uncle Albert,
But there's no one left at home
And I believe I'm gonna rain.
We're so sorry but we haven't heard a thing all day.
We're so sorry, Uncle Albert.
But if anything should happen well be sure to give a ring.

We're so sorry, Uncle Albert,
But we haven't done a bloody thing all day.
We're so sorry, Uncle Albert,
But the kettles on the boil and we're so easily called away.

How is this news... (1)

brunes69 (86786) | about 4 months ago | (#46520095)

Honestly anyone with half a clue has known the NSA has been doing this FOR YEARS.

In fact I saw a great documentary on the subject in 1998

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E... [wikipedia.org]

( I am actually serious... who in the western world did not already know the NSA had these capabilities? The surprising thing to me would have been if it came out that they DID NOT have them - at which point I would wonder what they were doing with their billions of dollars ).

No more US telco equipment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46520185)

Let's give the Chinese a go. They are probably spying too, but at least they're cheap.

Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46520319)

Next time the local gasoline prices jump for no logical reason, they can just rewind the last few weeks of phone calls between the petroleum producers and catch them fixing them in the act.

Some good could come of this after all.

Not here (1)

PPH (736903) | about 4 months ago | (#46520351)

Why would they want 30 days of this [youtube.com] ?

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...