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NSA's Novel Claim: Our Systems Are Too Complex To Obey the Law

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the complex-simple-same-thing dept.

Electronic Frontier Foundation 245

Reader Bruce66423 (1678196) points out skeptical-sounding coverage at the Washington Post of the NSA's claim that it can't hold onto information it collects about users' online activity long enough for it to be useful as evidence in lawsuits about the very practice of that collection. From the article: 'The agency is facing a slew of lawsuits over its surveillance programs, many launched after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked information on the agency's efforts last year. One suit that pre-dates the Snowden leaks, Jewel v. NSA, challenges the constitutionality of programs that the suit allege collect information about Americans' telephone and Internet activities. In a hearing Friday, U.S. District for the Northern District of California Judge Jeffrey S. White reversed an emergency order he had issued earlier the same week barring the government from destroying data that the Electronic Frontier Foundation had asked be preserved for that case. The data is collected under Section 702 of the Amendments Act to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. But the NSA argued that holding onto the data would be too burdensome. "A requirement to preserve all data acquired under section 702 presents significant operational problems, only one of which is that the NSA may have to shut down all systems and databases that contain Section 702 information," wrote NSA Deputy Director Richard Ledgett in a court filing submitted to the court. The complexity of the NSA systems meant preservation efforts might not work, he argued, but would have "an immediate, specific, and harmful impact on the national security of the United States.' Adds Bruce66423: "This of course implies that they have no backup system — or at least that the backup are not held for long."

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Too Big to Be Indicted... (4, Funny)

mbone (558574) | about 4 months ago | (#47202827)

The computer version.

Re:Too Big to Be Indicted... (4, Insightful)

B33rNinj4 (666756) | about 4 months ago | (#47202875)

This is pretty much what will happen. The precedent was set with the banks and auto industry. I don't see why the NSA can't use the same argument.

Re:Too Big to Be Indicted... (5, Interesting)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | about 4 months ago | (#47203041)

This argument has a bit of a different feel to it though.

Up till now for a decade the agencies just invoke "we're scary and secretive, we don't need to follow your puny little laws because of National Security but we need a billion dollars in next year's budget to build more systems to hold data forever and ever".

And you can bet they cherry pick their data so that they have ten years worth of people's email and Slashdot posts, but suddenly when a lawsuit comes along, suddenly that data vanishes. But then it becomes vital to an investigation! "Oh look, we found it again!"

Re:Too Big to Be Indicted... (2)

mi (197448) | about 4 months ago | (#47203343)

The precedent was set with the banks and auto industry.

Not sure about the auto industry, but banks and other financial institutions did spend untold billions on revamping their systems to comply with the new regulations. Working for them became horribly difficult — at least one client of mine had to hire a consultant, whose sole job was translating change-requests (such as: "We need to increase the JVM's memory limit of the risk-computing application") from engineer's English into regulation-compliant legalese...

Oh, and then an actual user had to sign-off on it — try to explain the intricacies of Java garbage-collection to an equity-options trader...

Re:Too Big to Be Indicted... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47203469)

I'm not weeping and neither should you. When the industry rips off society I'd rather question whether they should be allowed to continue operating AT ALL.

Getting off with just a few billions and new regulation, where they only need to spend a week modifying GC settings on a JVM is TOO FUCKING CHEAP. More regulation, until they cannot operate any longer, makes much more sense.

Re:Too Big to Be Indicted... (1)

mi (197448) | about 4 months ago | (#47203755)

Then the industry rips off society I'd rather question whether they should be allowed to continue operating AT ALL.

The only industry, that lives off of society is the industry of government — they are paid by the taxpayers. And, armed with the IRS' ability to collect taxes at gunpoint, they are very hard to limit.

The banks, on the other hand, are very easy to "kill" — just stop using them. Unlike the government, they have no way to compel you.

More regulation, until they cannot operate any longer, makes much more sense.

Thank you for admitting, what the true intent of the regulations is. But would not it make even more sense to simply outlaw banks, huh? If only you could formulate such a law without shredding that pesky Constitution...

Re:Too Big to Be Indicted... (2)

ibwolf (126465) | about 4 months ago | (#47203913)

The banks, on the other hand, are very easy to "kill" — just stop using them. Unlike the government, they have no way to compel you.

Yes, "just" stop using them. Like we can "just" stop voting in all these rubbish politicians.

Most people can't stop doing business with them because they are already in debt and clearing that debt will take decades. Even if not in debt, not having a bank account and debit/credit card(s) and other financial services can cause you all manner of difficulties.

Banks, on top of providing essentially services, have built a money sucking machine. And they've made very sure to entangle the leeching part thoroughly in with the good bits.

The only way to address this, without plunging the economy into chaos, is for the government to step in and untangle it (cutting the proverbial Gordian knot). "Just" not doing business with the banks will either accomplish nothing (because you can't get enough people involved) or will precipitate a financial collapse.

Unfortunately, getting the government to do something about this "just" requires us to vote some decent people into office *sigh* yes, "just".

Re:Too Big to Be Indicted... (1)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | about 4 months ago | (#47203503)

What regulations? There were no new regulations. There no regulations were placed on the derivatives market. The only change was how much capital each bank had to have on hand.

Re:Too Big to Be Indicted... (1)

mi (197448) | about 4 months ago | (#47203713)

What regulations? There were no new regulations. There no regulations were placed on the derivatives market.

Yeah, right. It just became illegal for banks to have proprietary traders (derivatives and others) in-house [wikipedia.org] — resulting in massive lay-offs [huffingtonpost.com] of traders and their supporting personnel (IT, programmers, quants)...

But I did not mean that. The difficulties, to which I was originally referring, were caused by the Sarbanes Oxley Act [wikipedia.org] , which made it painfully difficult to change even the slightest aspect of a production computer system in a financial institution.

Re:Too Big to Be Indicted... (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47203811)

You are full of shit. I've been making changes to banks prod systems for years, and it isn't all that hard. NSA is full of shit too. They can retain any data they want, or what's the point of collecting it all in the first place? How are they going to use it against anyone if it keeps disappearing? You don't even need to know the details of their system. The claim fails a simple logic test on its face. Any judge that agrees with them is in cahoots.

too big to avoid storage overflow is more like it (1)

swschrad (312009) | about 4 months ago | (#47203501)

and if they're collecting too damn much information to hold it, let alone process it, then it's almost all GIGO. dump the assumptions and Orwell on your desk for reference, and narrow your search. the FBI never caught a bootlegger chasing the history of every barefoot kid on the street, either.

Re:Too Big to Be Indicted... (4, Insightful)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 4 months ago | (#47203283)

We can call this The NSA Defense (our systems are too complex for the law), and the inverse of it is The Amazon Defense (the law is too complex for our systems).

Fine ... (5, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about 4 months ago | (#47202835)

If you can't have your data available to demonstrate what you're doing it lawful, and you are going to delete it, then only reasonable conclusion is what you are doing cannot be proven lawful.

Therefore, the program is not lawful, and you need to stop.

Problem solved.

This amounts to "your honor, we collect so damned much information we couldn't possibly hold onto it long enough to be subject to legal oversight. Trust us."

What crap.

Re:Fine ... (5, Informative)

oodaloop (1229816) | about 4 months ago | (#47202891)

I imagine the problem is that these databases only hold collected data for a short period of time, say 30 or 90 days. The data scraped is massive, so it is constantly deleting old data to make way for more. IAA Intelligence Analyst, and I know of some imagery databases, for example, that only hold the last 30 days of imagery. If you forced them to hold all of it for years, it would mean increasing server space by orders of magnitude.

Re:Fine ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47202941)

SO hold onto a random sampling of a significant but manageable size. There is middle ground between everything and nothing. Especially if you let the other side examine the full data set and the sample, they can agree that the sample is of a significant enough size to work in court. We can then extrapolate from the sample to the population. Its not perfect, but if there's damning evidence the sample should be good enough.

Re:Fine ... (5, Informative)

gstoddart (321705) | about 4 months ago | (#47202973)

So, basically, your saying that they should just expect everybody to simply trust that what they're doing is entirely legal? Because the logistics of actually proving this is so difficult they can't do it?

I say horseshit to that.

We know the data they scrape is massive. What we don't know is that they're complying with the law in order to do it.

And I fail to see why the benefit of the doubt should be given in this case.

Sorry, but it's "trust, but verify", and if you can't verify, you can't bloody well trust. The whole point of these lawsuits is that they likely go beyond the scope of their legal mandate. Saying you couldn't possibly be bothered to hold onto the evidence the court has demanded is just too damned bad.

Re:Fine ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47203105)

So, basically, your saying that they should just expect everybody to simply trust that what they're doing is entirely legal?

No, they're expecting everybody to remember the little clause that "accidentally collected" data on US citizens must be deleted within 30 days. So by deleting everything 29.9 days after acquisition, they are deleting the US citizen data within the permissible timeframe.

The problem comes in when someone points out that collecting on US citizens wasn't accidental. Intentionally collecting data on US citizens is a violation even if you don't keep it around any longer than it takes your RAM to write over the data.

Re:Fine ... (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | about 4 months ago | (#47203109)

So, basically, your saying that they should just expect everybody to simply trust that what they're doing is entirely legal?

Where did I say or imply anything like that? I'm no more a fan of what NSA is doing than anyone else here. They are disliked throughout the rest of the intel community too, btw.

Re:Fine ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47203443)

They are disliked throughout the rest of the intel community too, btw.

So what? The rest of the intel community is no less traitorous scum than they are.

Before the CIA and NSA were founded, the US was 9-0 in war. Since their founding, the US is 0-5 in war. The CIA and NSA in and of themselves are national security risks.

Re:Fine ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47203491)

I'm no more a fan of what NSA is doing than anyone else here.

There are a few authoritarians who approve of the NSA's actions. cold fjord, for instance.

Re:Fine ... (1)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | about 4 months ago | (#47203543)

Then don't make up a scenario they weren't asked with which to comply.

Re:Fine ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47203529)

And I fail to see why the benefit of the doubt should be given in this case.

"...an immediate, specific, and harmful impact on the national security of the United States."

That's all they need to say to justify being given the benefit of the doubt by whomever has oversight.

Re:Fine ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47203743)

How about random sampling.
Pick n items, evaluate their legality, post the results for all to see (assuming what you randomly picked isn't part of an investigation) 30-90 days later when it is clearly not part of an investigation.

Any items fail, then people go to jail for breaking the law (all the top brass associated with the project, and anyone directly responsible for that specific data), and the whole thing is shut down until whatever safeguards are put in place to stop that "error" happening again. Then start it up with new top brass who we hope will be more careful.

That way, we see that they're testing, we see what they are collecting on us, and we see that they take responsibility for it when they mess up.

Re:Fine ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47203003)

I imagine the problem is that these databases only hold collected data for a short period of time, say 30 or 90 days.

Try 5 years, by their own admission.

If you forced them to hold all of it for years, it would mean increasing server space by orders of magnitude.

Perhaps you've heard a thing or twelve about a massive datacenter they have been building for exactly that?

Re:Fine ... (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 4 months ago | (#47203345)

Isnt' that precisely what they did recently? They built a facility for the very purpose of increasing storage by orders of magnitude? Or, did I misunderstand all those stories?

Re:Fine ... (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | about 4 months ago | (#47203419)

My understanding is that the new facility is for storage of new programs, not stable backups of existing data. I'm not an expert though.

Re:Fine ... (1)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | about 4 months ago | (#47203557)

Then not commenting is your best option.

Re:Fine ... (1)

swillden (191260) | about 4 months ago | (#47203449)

I imagine the problem is that these databases only hold collected data for a short period of time, say 30 or 90 days. The data scraped is massive, so it is constantly deleting old data to make way for more. IAA Intelligence Analyst, and I know of some imagery databases, for example, that only hold the last 30 days of imagery. If you forced them to hold all of it for years, it would mean increasing server space by orders of magnitude.

None of which in any way impacts the GP's point.

Re:Fine ... (5, Insightful)

JWW (79176) | about 4 months ago | (#47203473)

I totally get that their systems very likely need to purge inconsequential data to remain effective. However, if the court forced a private company to retain data under a court order, it wouldn't care one wit about whether that was feasible within the system or not. If the private company did not comply, their officers would be held in contempt.

The NSA should not get special treatment in this case.

Re:Fine ... (4, Informative)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | about 4 months ago | (#47203533)

Really? That's not what the NSA was instructed to do. The NSA was instructed to hold *some* information that was involved in a court case. They were not forced to hold it for years nor were they forced to hold everything. In fact when the NSA was asked to do so they did not say they couldn't do it. Instead they said they didn't think the hold order applied to the information they deleted.

Please stick to the topic on hand and not make up a scenario that did not happen.

Re:Fine ... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47203695)

Well, if I design a system and I can't prove that it complies with all of the laws that regulates my field then I'm not allowed to sell that system.
If I sell it anyway then I will be fined. (Or possibly imprisoned if someone gets killed because of me not following the norms.)

If it is considered illegal when I design a system that is too complex to verify the legality of, why isn't it illegal for NSA?

Re:Fine ... (1)

silas_moeckel (234313) | about 4 months ago | (#47203839)

Since the programs are not needed, or lawfull just can them problem solved.

Re:Fine ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47203063)

This amounts to "your honor, we collect so damned much information we couldn't possibly hold onto it long enough to be subject to legal oversight. Trust us."

But we spent millions of dollars finding loopholes in the law to make it legal! And when we didn't, we spent millions of dollars getting Congress to unwittingly put loopholes in the law to make whatever we were doing retroactively legal!

If code == law, then law == code. They were compromising the American legal system the way they compromised American computing systems.

Re:Fine ... (4, Insightful)

bigpat (158134) | about 4 months ago | (#47203197)

Sarcasm aside I think you make an important point... Between the “state secrets” privilege and the apparent willingness of the NSA to engage in a wholesale violation of the US Constitution and lie to congress and the courts I seriously doubt it would be remotely possible for a court to narrowly "rule on the facts" of the particular case. Rather courts are going to have to rule on the law and the probability that the NSA is violating individual liberties and then issue injunctions which give the government and the NSA and US government future instructions that the 4th amendment applies to their surveillance activities in the US despite whatever the Patriot Act might be interpreted to mean... meaning the courts will have to issue rulings based on what is permissible rather than issuing narrow injunctions against particular acts.

So for instance the court should simply rule that for the NSA to force companies to hand over business records including communications logs and the like that they need a warrant that complies with the 4th amendment and is issued: "upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized"

Re:Fine ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47203383)

Presumption of innocence... :-)

No data = no guilt...

Re:Fine ... (1)

Testudo Kleinmanni (1791546) | about 4 months ago | (#47203651)

Funny stuff. Its unknown lawfulness quanta, hence nowhere near proven unlawful ergo criminal and actionable if sufficiently recent. Disregarding the legal statue of the breach of regulation discussed, which may be criminal itself but will never be prove positive of guilt regarding different unlawful acts to it. ...until proven guilty.

Re:Fine ... (1)

dpidcoe (2606549) | about 4 months ago | (#47203759)

If you can't have your data available to demonstrate what you're doing it lawful, and you are going to delete it, then only reasonable conclusion is what you are doing cannot be proven lawful.

Therefore, the program is not lawful, and you need to stop.

So if you're not going to answer the questions to demonstrate your innocence, and your memory is fuzzy anyway, then the only reasonable conclusion is that you're guilty and therefore need to be thrown in jail?

That's a bit of a dangerous precident to be setting.

So it's out of control? (2)

Skarjak (3492305) | about 4 months ago | (#47202837)

I guess they really are making Skynet... Seriously though, everything the NSA has said since this whole scandal started reeks of "The end justifies the means." They're basically a cartoon villain at this point.

Re:So it's out of control? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 4 months ago | (#47202965)

I guess they really are making Skynet...

Skynet as the world's collection of cell phone calls? Man, that is one seriously dystopian future. You need some help.

Re:So it's out of control? (1)

DutchUncle (826473) | about 4 months ago | (#47203347)

No, Skynet as the world's collection of cellphones, and all of the other embedded processors with zillions of cycles available and a lot of spare time on their hands . . . . Seriously, half of us are walking around with more computer power PER DEVICE than the entire world was using on any given day in the 1960s. And we have our "real" computer at home. Even M$ couldn't waste all of that computational capacity. Do you think the push to hook them all together in an IoT is really coming from *humans*????? (see Roger Zelazny, "LOKI 7281")

Re:So it's out of control? (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 4 months ago | (#47203411)

No, the cell phones are merely remote sensors for the AI hidden behind the scenes. Of course, given an AI, the computational power that accompanies those sensors is probably somewhat useful as well.

Are they arguing Occam's Razor? (5, Insightful)

Joe Gillian (3683399) | about 4 months ago | (#47202863)

So wait, the NSA's argument as to why their program is legal.. is that they're too incompetent to design a system that can follow the law. Shouldn't this be grounds to fire everyone at the NSA for incompetence, if this is the argument they're using?

This would actually be kinda good if true (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47202869)

Since it would mean that they don't routinely hold onto this information for further analysis, future blackmail, etc. However, it seems far more likely that they are simply lying when they say they can't do this.

Can't hold data, or can't tell the truth? (5, Insightful)

alphatel (1450715) | about 4 months ago | (#47202873)

"This of course implies that they have no backup system — or at least that the backup are not held for long."

It implies nothing other than the NSA continues to lie whenever an order to turnover data is presented.

Re:Can't hold data, or can't tell the truth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47203823)

When one is in the business of deception, truth and lies are one in the same.

Fine. (1)

epyT-R (613989) | about 4 months ago | (#47202889)

Then it's time to stop what you're doing. People's rights are more important hiding politicians' (and their benefactors') dirty laundry. What you're doing is undermining the fundamental principles that separate western democracy from the dark ages.

Re:Fine. (1)

whoever57 (658626) | about 4 months ago | (#47203071)

People's rights are more important hiding politicians' (and their benefactors') dirty laundry.

Why do you think that they are engaged in hiding politicians' dirty laundry? Why not assume that identifying and using that dirty laundry (to ensure support from those politicians) is part of the purpose of the data collection. What's the probability that the NSA doesn't have some dirt on Senator Feinstein?

Awesome (3, Insightful)

50000BTU_barbecue (588132) | about 4 months ago | (#47202901)

My biology is so complex it's not understood yet either!

Woohoo! Behold the new lawless me!!!!!

Re:Awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47203251)

so that explains the stench. the epa will be out to see you shortly.

Re:Awesome (1)

50000BTU_barbecue (588132) | about 4 months ago | (#47203371)

No that's the "sitting naked on a synthetic leather computer chair" effect.

Re:Awesome (1)

larry bagina (561269) | about 4 months ago | (#47203829)

Stick to leather -- it doesn't absorb farts. My buddy has a cloth chair that is oversaturated with farts. Aside from the permanent stench -- which would be bad enough -- it releases a gas bomb if you ever sit in it.

Try that one in front of a judge (1)

sandbagger (654585) | about 4 months ago | (#47202903)

Just give everyone the finger, it's faster.

HaHa! Suxor! No more patching Tuesdays for me! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47202907)

My patch days are now over! Nefer again! My system is secure. No more patches. Ever! XP ruelz!

The Boy Who Cried Wolf (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47202917)

Everything concerning the NSA has "an immediate, specific, and harmful impact on the national security of the United States."

Releasing any information has "an immediate, specific, and harmful impact on the national security of the United States."
Saving any information has "an immediate, specific, and harmful impact on the national security of the United States."
Any whistle blowers have "an immediate, specific, and harmful impact on the national security of the United States."
Disagreeing with any official has "an immediate, specific, and harmful impact on the national security of the United States."
Giving out the legal reasoning behing their operations has "an immediate, specific, and harmful impact on the national security of the United States."

Why have more people not clued in that the NSA is "an immediate, specific, and harmful impact on the national security of the United States."

they have damaged the reputation of their agencies simply by believing that none of their secrets would get out. My mom always told me that once more than one person knows something it is no longer a secret and will not be kept that way.

Re:The Boy Who Cried Wolf (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 4 months ago | (#47203055)

What is the "national security of the United States" anyway? Because last I checked, it amounts to military power. If I can put a boot in your ass, your intelligence telling you I'm coming to put a boot in your ass doesn't help.

Re:The Boy Who Cried Wolf (1)

crimson tsunami (3395179) | about 4 months ago | (#47203559)

Of course it does. If I know you're coming I can take all the data/cash/family/etc and flee to Russia/China. Then wave my ass in your face.

Re:The Boy Who Cried Wolf (1)

DutchUncle (826473) | about 4 months ago | (#47203369)

"Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead." - Benjamin Franklin

Re:The Boy Who Cried Wolf (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47203521)

I'll repeat what I wrote above:

Before the NSA's founding, the US was 9-0 in war. Since the NSA's founding, the US is 0-5 in war.

The NSA's existence has an immediate, specific, and harmful impact on the national security of the United States.

Re:The Boy Who Cried Wolf (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47203789)

Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.
[1735 B. Franklin Poor Richard's Almanack (July)]

And the third isn't Snowden.

Utah Datacenter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47202931)

NSA is lying.

Lies. (5, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 4 months ago | (#47202937)

The NSA, The CIA, the FBI and the Justice department have already been caught in BOLD FACED LIES in regards to their activities on dozens of occasions. The Presidents (both Obama and Bush) have gone on National Television and lied directly to the American people regarding this programs over and over and over again. Several NSA directors have gone in front of congress and lied while under oath. They were then called back and admitted that they're lied. You cannot trust anything they say at all. The only solution to this is to shut down the agency. They are willing to violate the law, the constitution, court order and even the will of the president. No regulatory reform or court order will be effective against an agency that thinks its charter is more important than obeying the law or will of the people. They fundamentally believe that your physical safety is more important than our individual rights. That is totalitarianism. It is not a belief that is compatible with democracy.

Re:Lies. (2)

Gramie2 (411713) | about 4 months ago | (#47203023)

They fundamentally believe that your physical safety is more important than our individual rights.

I'd be more inclined to say that they value their own power and influence over your individual rights (I'm not American, and so have no rights in their eyes). If they really worried about your physical safety, they would be getting evidence on polluters, unsafe working conditions, social collapse, the prison industry, and all the other things that contribute to the decay of your quality of life.

Re:Lies. (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 4 months ago | (#47203115)

They fundamentally believe that your physical safety is more important than our individual rights.

I'd be more inclined to say that they value their own power and influence over your individual rights (I'm not American, and so have no rights in their eyes). If they really worried about your physical safety, they would be getting evidence on polluters, unsafe working conditions, social collapse, the prison industry, and all the other things that contribute to the decay of your quality of life.

This is the problem with totalitarianism. When you're wrong, no one is allowed to disagree with you unless they're willing to move to Hong Kong or Moscow.

Re:Lies. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47203043)

The NSA, The CIA, the FBI and the Justice department have already been caught in BOLD FACED LIES...

But were the lies italicized, too? And it may be vital to know which font it was (some fonts are only available in bold, so it may not actually be their fault).

Re:Lies. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47203047)

Don't worry, Im sure it falls under the commerce clause somehow....Forcing people to buy a product apparently does.

Re:Lies. (3, Insightful)

Princeofcups (150855) | about 4 months ago | (#47203117)

They fundamentally believe that your physical safety is more important than our individual rights.

You were great until that line. "Safety" is purely a PR term. They are protecting corporate interests, not individual's safety.

Re:Lies. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47203129)

They fundamentally believe that your physical safety is more important...

The general theme of your post is that the NSA (and government in general) is corrupt, deceitful, self-serving, and untrustworthy. I agree wholeheartedly. How in the world, then, did you arrive at the notion that they are doing this in your name, for your own protection, and to your benefit?

Re:Lies. (1)

sribe (304414) | about 4 months ago | (#47203149)

The NSA, The CIA, the FBI and the Justice department have already been caught in BOLD FACED LIES....

I'm pretty sure their lies were published in roman weight.

Re:Lies. (2)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 4 months ago | (#47203163)

The only solution to this is to shut down the agency.

Impossible. It will just go deeper "underground", and move even more contraband than they do now to keep the money flowing. The entire government is going rogue and the submissive population will do nothing about it. This is the world we live in.

Re:Lies. (1)

Rigel47 (2991727) | about 4 months ago | (#47203181)

At the end of the day accountability is almost totally absent in the upper echelons of government. Sure, sure, somebody might resign months later after a complete cluster-fuck of a healthcare.gov web site but actual crimes like perjuring oneself while under oath? meh.. "I didn't understand the question" or "it was as truthy as I felt comfortable"

Fuck these guys.

Re:Lies. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47203189)

Better that than ITALIC FACED LIES, or worse: COMIC SANS LIES!

Re:Lies. (1)

imatter (2749965) | about 4 months ago | (#47203875)

Comic Sans = Beta

Re:Lies. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47203203)

Yup. Shall we count the times the current president has lied to us since the revelations?

"We do not collect any information on US citizens or allies, only terrorist organizations" - Collects info from both US citizens and allies
"OK, so maybe we are exposed to some information as it passes through the pipes, but we don't save any of it" - Mandatory saving for 5 years for any data captured
"OK, well maybe we have to save some of it, but we don't actually look at any of it unless we believe it has ties to terrorists" - Actually looks at data from anyone for absolutely any reason
"Well yeah we can check it out, but it's only metadata! We don't actually have an real data!" - They totally have your actual data, and don't forget that whole Petreus ordeal was exposed by "metadata."
"Fine, we have your content, but it's only information from phone calls. We don't snoop in on your emails or other private data." - Yes they do. They dig their grubby claws into everything and anything they can
"Well it's necessary! We're doing this to make you safe!" - And somehow completely ignoring actual threads while removing inalienable rights from the people, and subverting encryption technologies they use to protect themselves (such as in internet banking), is supposed to make us safer...how?
"Anyone could be a terrorist! We only examine people that are within 3 hops of a terrorist connection!" - Actually, you examine every man, woman, and child you possibly can.
"Well it's not illegal!" - 4th amendment disagrees.
"Search and seizure doesn't apply! When we 'take' your data and 'examine it', that's not the same as seizing it to search it!" - I'll remember that the next time the RIAA/MPAA sues for ridiculous amounts. They weren't "downloading" and "copyright infringing," they were just "obtaining a copy to watch/listen to." See, everything is totally legal if you just make up your own definitions along the way!

And the list goes on.

Re:Lies. (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 4 months ago | (#47203883)

The only solution to this is to shut down the agency.

And any politician that did this would immediately be tarred as doing something that hurts America and helps The Terrorists. Since politicians are a spineless lot, always worried about being cast in a negative light, they will shy away from any real reform. Instead they will back "slap on the wrist" or "finger wagging" reform that looks to the public like real reform, but in reality does nothing.

I believe them (3, Insightful)

towermac (752159) | about 4 months ago | (#47202975)

It's the biggest system there is. There's nothing to 'back it up to', for various reasons. The letter of the (original) order can't be complied with, without shutting it off, and saving the current contents for the upcoming hearing (or trial). In the meantime, we have nothing as far as NSA protection goes. I get that.

That doesn't mean the the spirit of the order can't be complied with. Snapshots of sections, randomly chosen database blocks from among representative groups, a sampling of the most called routines; something. If it's a freaking computer, then there is some way that evidence can be gotten without bringing the system down, assuming cooperation on the part of the admins. I hope they are not getting off the hook.

Re:I believe them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47203085)

It's the biggest system there is. There's nothing to 'back it up to', for various reasons

If only they had built an enormous data storage facility somewhere in Utah...

Re:I believe them (1)

imatter (2749965) | about 4 months ago | (#47203131)

Fuck they can't even turn on the second floor air conditioning without bringing the first floor down!

Re:I believe them (2)

DutchUncle (826473) | about 4 months ago | (#47203391)

I thought the NSA system *is* the backup . . . for the Internet.

Re:I believe them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47203745)

In the meantime, we have nothing as far as NSA protection goes.

What protection? And how is any 'protection' more important than the individual liberties that are being violated in exchange for this 'protection'?

And next... 'we need more funding for data storage (1)

bigpat (158134) | about 4 months ago | (#47202987)

Out of one side they will argue that they can't possibly store all this massive data they are collecting. And then they will turn around and blame the courts for needing more storage to store all this data they are collecting. See we can't stop spying on the American people... the courts are making us.

Speed up the trial! (2)

coolguyclay (711344) | about 4 months ago | (#47203033)

If the data cannot be saved, then speed up the trial! It's been going on for a while now.

Lies, Lies and more damn lies... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47203137)

Data goes back over 30 years...

Ignorance is no excuse (1)

allypally (2858133) | about 4 months ago | (#47203237)

A basic legal principle is that ignorance of the law is no excuse.

It may be a factor in applying penalties, but it does not affect the finding of fact re guilty or not guilty.

If the NSA has historically used perceived complexity of operation as a reason for turning a blind eye to their legal obligations, they may be guilty of massed conspiracy.

fuck (1)

strstr (539330) | about 4 months ago | (#47203249)

Why speculate? This article makes mention of certain things being implied by a cover story the NSA put out. NSA does not tell the truth and relies on the fact that no one can verify their statements true or false. Noone has toured NSA or DOD or CIA or FBI systems to examine what was really going on and if what the whistleblowers say to be true was true or false or what the NSA or others say was true or false. We only know a fraction of their capabilities and the whole system remains top secret .. Snowden leaks only covered the low tech side.

NSA has lied everywhere else and this has been exposed numerous times. This just means that they would lead you to believe data was only kept for short durations and there were no backs ups because they don't have yo really tell people what they're doing. They would prefer people believed that data was not kept indefinitely and that only certain data was used for certain things and only for national security when it was real long being used to spy on and control us all. Learn more, NSA has been targeting me along with other intelligence agencies for nearly a decade now. WWW.OBAMASWEAPON.COM

the government is burdensome (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about 4 months ago | (#47203263)

So even government officials admit that government is burdensome. Of-course it is burdensome, of-course the real problem is that it is burdensome for the people, not for government officials. Individuals are burdened by the burdensome government, that's the problem, not that NSA is burdened by burdensome rules that attempt at preventing NSA from becoming even more burdensome than it is.

So what they are saying is... (3, Interesting)

TheCarp (96830) | about 4 months ago | (#47203277)

So if their system is too complex to obey the law....the short version of what they said is "We built a system without regard to the law" and "We broke the law". Thank you for the confession. Now its time to start dismantling and prosecuting thanks.

Ok, but so what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47203305)

Yes, a downside to dragnet collections is you get a whole lot of data.
      Keeping it indefinitely when there is no intel value in not feasible because there was no reason to set up the system to do that.

But if the NSA can't respond to a lawsuit request for evidence that would put them in a bad light,
      and there are other indications that the evidence would likely put them in that light,
      then perhaps the presumption should be that they is already in that bad light.
          A skeptic might say that if the evidence would put them in a good light,
              they would be a lot more 'able' to produce it.

The argument that one can't sue because one has no evidence that the secret bad thing happened seems bogus.
    I'm not so sure about an argument that there was no harm from the 'bad' thing if you don't know for sure it even happened.

So far, thankfully, this NSA stuff (unlike the IRS, TSA, etc stuff) isn't about the bad stuff they actually did.
    So far, there is no evidence that they abused their information rich position.
It's about the wisdom of providing the unchecked opportunity and temptation for abuse in the future.

Nice precedent (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about 4 months ago | (#47203315)

Next one will be "proper process is too complex, so we just directly jail anyone that our trusty staff think that deserves it"

orphan (2)

NikeHerc (694644) | about 4 months ago | (#47203323)

This reminds me of the story of the kid who murdered his parents, then threw himself on the mercy of the court because he was an orphan.

We have (or at least had) a Constitution to protect citizens from governmental abuses of this nature.

The government should never be above the law. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47203377)

When the government is above the law, the government needs to be changed
so the new government respects the law.

End of story.

Maybe all we need to prove wrongdoing is metadata? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47203447)

Maybe we don't need all of their information, maybe we just need metadata about that information. Surely there's no harm in that!

How Do I Say This? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47203485)

Fuck you. Fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you.

Fuck. You.

You and your organization can die. In a ditch. On fire.

taxes (1)

stenvar (2789879) | about 4 months ago | (#47203517)

Do you think "The tax code is too complex for me to figure out, so I don't really have to pay, do I?" would work?

Too complex? Then simplify them! (3, Insightful)

kheldan (1460303) | about 4 months ago | (#47203569)

Aww, poor NSA, their systems are too complex for them to control according to the law? What a terrible 1st world problem to have! Fear not NSA, I have a solution that will take this horrible burden off your shoulders, and make the rest of us happy at the same time: simplify your goddamn systems to the point where you can 'control' them and be in accordance with the law. Either that or maybe we need to take a chainsaw to your 'systems' and just chop them down to a reasonable size. Here, here's an abacus, that's about all I'd trust you motherfuckers with at this point.

my software is too complex to support (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47203591)

That's what I will tell my clients after delivery.

Target audience (4, Interesting)

Livius (318358) | about 4 months ago | (#47203599)

They don't actually mean that the system is too complex to obey the law.

They merely mean that it is too complex for "journalists" to tell whether they are obeying the law or not.

Goose/Gander (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47203619)

The tax code is too complex for me to obey it.

I think that I'll stop, citing their logic.

Also, the IRS can't be audited (1)

Jason Goatcher (3498937) | about 4 months ago | (#47203625)

The IRS has tried a similar tactic in the past, saying their systems don't allow them to be audited. So I can go to jail for not being 100% up-front with the IRS, but they can't be held to the same standard.

Land of the Free my ass.

Total lie. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47203641)

All they would have needed to do is mark the plaintiffs as court-indicted terrorists (which they most likely have done anyway) and the cleansing would stop.

What they are saying is that their machinery does not accommodate searches based on a warrant. We are not talking about dealing with a special situation here. We are talking about the only legal way of doing searches according to the Fourth Amendment.

What they are saying is that their whole machinery was not designed to work legally, so they want to continue operating it illegally. And the judge says "oh, of course, please do, how silly of me".

solution (1)

Evtim (1022085) | about 4 months ago | (#47203721)

I say we EMP the whole site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure!

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