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Former FBI Agent: All Digital Communications Stored By US Gov't 621

Posted by timothy
from the and-soon-it-will-all-be-in-utah dept.
New submitter davesays writes "CNN anchors Erin Burnett and Carol Costello have interviewed Former FBI Counterterrorisim specialist Tim Clemente. In the interviews he asserts that all digital communications are recorded and stored. Clemente: 'No, welcome to America. All of that stuff is being captured as we speak whether we know it or like it or not.' 'All of that stuff' — meaning every telephone conversation Americans have with one another on U.S. soil, with or without a search warrant — 'is being captured as we speak.' 'No digital communication is secure,' by which he means not that any communication is susceptible to government interception as it happens (although that is true), but far beyond that: all digital communications — meaning telephone calls, emails, online chats and the like — are automatically recorded and stored and accessible to the government after the fact. To describe that is to define what a ubiquitous, limitless Surveillance State is."
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Former FBI Agent: All Digital Communications Stored By US Gov't

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  • Jupiter Tape? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tablizer (95088) on Sunday May 05, 2013 @06:50PM (#43637359) Journal

    I doubt they have the storage capacity.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 05, 2013 @06:55PM (#43637387)

    Someone correct me. It just doesn't seem feasible.

  • ps. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by mozumder (178398) on Sunday May 05, 2013 @07:11PM (#43637473)

    Might makes right.

    Protip: If you want actual freedom, you need to gain power. And to gain power, you need to align yourself with the powerful.

    The question for you is: Which members of our society are more powerful: the socialist statist that aligns themselves with government? or the gun-owning libertarian that doesn't want to be tread on?

    Figuring out who is power, and subsequently aligning yourself with that power, is going to be key to your success. Feel free to argue against that.

  • Re:Jupiter Tape? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tablizer (95088) on Sunday May 05, 2013 @07:11PM (#43637475) Journal

    They may sift it for key-words, and record who, where, and when, but not necessarily the entire conversation or transaction.

  • Re:Jupiter Tape? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ShanghaiBill (739463) * on Sunday May 05, 2013 @07:20PM (#43637533)

    So the guy is lying?

    Probably. He is trying to make a name for himself as a consultant. This claim will give him some publicity. If his claim was true, hundreds of people would know about it, and all of them would know they were breaking the law. Some of these people would be in government, but many of them would be in telecom companies, that would have no reason to cooperate, and plenty of reason not to (losing customers, end of career, prison time, etc.). Of course, no amount of logic or absence of evidence this will stop the conspiracy theories (see below). Of course, if it actually was true, the FBI would probably hire shills to go on Slashdot and spread disinformation, and try to convince everyone that there was no vast conspiracy, so why should you trust me?

  • Re:Citizen reply. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by BitZtream (692029) on Sunday May 05, 2013 @07:21PM (#43637537)

    I really wish people like you could live in an actual shitty country.

    Not that America is perfect, but you have no fucking idea what tyranny is.

  • Re:Jupiter Tape? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ShanghaiBill (739463) * on Sunday May 05, 2013 @07:24PM (#43637557)

    Remember that the STASI [wikipedia.org] did exactly this

    The Stasi did only did the easy part: monitoring everyone.

    The didn't do the hard part: keeping it secret.

  • Re:Citizen reply. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Sunday May 05, 2013 @07:40PM (#43637647)

    Not that America is perfect, but you have no fucking idea what tyranny is.

    tyr-an-ny, n.: (source: dictionary.com)

    1. arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power; despotic abuse of authority.

    "All of that stuff is being captured as we speak whether we know it or like it or not."

    2. oppressive or unjustly severe government on the part of any ruler.

    "meaning every telephone conversation Americans have with one another on U.S. soil, with or without a search warrant -- 'is being captured as we speak.'"

    3.undue severity or harshness.

    "'No, welcome to America."

    Would you care to revise your statement, Mr. Internet Pundit?

  • Re:Timothy stories (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Proudrooster (580120) on Sunday May 05, 2013 @07:40PM (#43637651) Homepage

    While the FBI might not be the sharpest tool in the shed they have infinite resources thanks to the national security black budget. Granted if you have a private network that doesn't peer with any of the big backbones like AT&T then your a probably safe. Once your voice/data hops onto a major backbone like AT&T your data has been sold to the US Government. There are even allegation that this system is contributing names to the no-fly list through heuristic language analysis of voice traffic. To see if you networks are safe, use the word "bomb" as often as you can and if you aren't added to the no-fly list, your networks are probably safe :)

    I think the real solution to the problem is to start generating massive amounts of meaningless data until the spooks run out of storage.

    Security and Privacy are an illusion. Welcome to 1984 about three decades late.

  • Re:Jupiter Tape? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Mighty Buzzard (878441) on Sunday May 05, 2013 @07:49PM (#43637705)
    You're unaware that the NSA has a room in every major telco hub then? And that the techs aren't allowed to even look crossways at it or what they're hooked into, even for network diagnostic purposes? Huh.
  • Re:Jupiter Tape? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Sunday May 05, 2013 @07:54PM (#43637735)
    Having said that: where is immunity for the Government? It doesn't have any. And this is about as blatantly un-Constitutional as you can get.

    I have been wondering for several years where the public uproar over this is. It's a crime against The People... as defined by our own laws.
  • Re:Jupiter Tape? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Sunday May 05, 2013 @07:54PM (#43637737)

    Probably. He is trying to make a name for himself as a consultant.

    He worked in the FBI's counter-terrorism division. I don't think he needs to "make a name" for himself. His resume already says enough.

    If his claim was true, hundreds of people would know about it, and all of them would know they were breaking the law.

    And as we know, government officials never break the law. Glad we cleared that one up.

    but many of them would be in telecom companies, that would have no reason to cooperate,

    They have guns. Lots of guns. Feeling lucky, punk?

    ). Of course, no amount of logic or absence of evidence this will stop the conspiracy theories (see below).

    "Conspiracy theories by a former official in a credible position to know these things." FTFY.

    Of course, if it actually was true, the FBI would probably hire shills to go on Slashdot and spread disinformation, and try to convince everyone that there was no vast conspiracy, so why should you trust me?

    Why would the FBI give two shits about a geek news site? And why would they need to convince you, me, or anyone else, there wasn't a "vast conspiracy"? You're making a straw man here. A big one.

  • by Proudrooster (580120) on Sunday May 05, 2013 @07:55PM (#43637749) Homepage

    Seriously, you mean a data center like this can't handle the traffic?

    http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/03/ff_nsadatacenter/ [wired.com]

    and the 5 million people (as of 2011) with security clearances aren't enough?

    http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/07/security-clearances-increasing/ [wired.com]

    and the NSA recruiting at Defcon and math colleges all around the country isn't happening?

    http://www.federalnewsradio.com/411/2890348/NSA-hiring-reforms-serve-as-model-for-government [federalnewsradio.com]

    These guys have cash and are all of their activities are shielded under FISA and the National Security Act and State Secrets Privilege.

    http://www.aclu.org/national-security/fix-fisa-end-warrantless-wiretapping [aclu.org]

    It's happening, it is a reality, and it is more than possible. Even with an inside whistle blower, the courts will not limit the power of the government to spy on us.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Room_641A [wikipedia.org]

    The only thing we really have going for us is the Catch-22 on the use of the data. If it is every used in a trial, chain of custody and 4th amendment issues likethe exclusionary rule will suppress the evidence since it was obtained without a warrant. The only thing that stands in the way of the NSA and fully implementing 1984 is the 4th amendment.

  • Re:Jupiter Tape? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Smallpond (221300) on Sunday May 05, 2013 @08:08PM (#43637809) Homepage Journal

    The average cell phone usage is 459 minutes/month * 300 M cell phones / 2 * 60 sec * 3 KB/sec = 13,000 PB/month (uncompressed).

  • Re:Jupiter Tape? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 05, 2013 @08:29PM (#43637931)

    Uncompressed? Why?

    iPod classic gives you 160GB of storage capacity, good for up to 40,000 songs, ....

    [fine print at the bottom of the page]
    Song capacity is based on 4 minutes per song and 128-Kbps AAC encoding;
    http://www.apple.com/ipodclassic/features.html [apple.com]

    459 minutes of voice data equals 115 songs. 115 songs is 0.2875% of the storage capacity (that "0" is intentional, this is a fraction of a single percent), or about 0.46 marketing gigs. This all at a pretty decent bitrate which people want for music, but is entirely overkill for recording voice data that isn't going to be sold as entertainment.

  • by pugugly (152978) on Sunday May 05, 2013 @08:32PM (#43637949)

    We can't 'know' this is false, but . . . we can look at what the implications would be if this were true.

    This would require vast storage, incredible database crossreferencing, would imply certain kinds of information be available not only without warrants, but without ever needing to pull the original data. Not only would warrants be redundant, so would National Security Letters.

    All without a single patriot in the government going public and blowing the lid off this, yet simultaneously putting this information in the hands of someone willing to shoot their mouth off on CNN.

    Can, in theory, all this be true? Sure. It could happen. *Practically* can all this be true? No - too many conspirators have to work invisibly, never tipping their hands, never making a mistake. Just don't buy it.

    Pug

  • Re:Jupiter Tape? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by deadweight (681827) on Sunday May 05, 2013 @08:44PM (#43638003)
    If memory serves, the STASI eventually had about 1/3 of the population involved in informing on someone or something and never came close to be able to analyze all the data they got.
  • Re:Citizen reply. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sapphire wyvern (1153271) on Sunday May 05, 2013 @08:59PM (#43638067)

    Have you written a detailed HOWTO article? That would be more helpful than just helping your immediate acquaintances.

  • Re:Jupiter Tape? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Qzukk (229616) on Sunday May 05, 2013 @09:08PM (#43638123) Journal

    People should remember just how terrible Americans are at keeping a secret

    How long did the Manhattan Project employ thousands of people before anyone figured out what they were making?

  • Re:Jupiter Tape? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Sunday May 05, 2013 @09:23PM (#43638221)

    By this logic we should also believe Bob Lazar about alien technologies. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and the word of one insider means squat.

    His "extraordinary" claim is that the government is doing what Google has already done: Indexing the entire internet, with the only difference being one of scale. I think if a private company started by a few college kids can do that, a government with nearly a trillion dollars in operating budget can come up with something.

    So your argument is that they will cooperate or be shot? This isn't even a sane way for a conspiracy to operate.

    Correct. But then, it's not a conspiracy. He's suggesting a corporation wouldn't cooperate with law enforcement requests. That's patently absurd; Corporations have little to gain and loads to lose if they decide to go against the government. Multi-billion dollar corporations aren't known for behaving like belligerant teenagers.

    The point is that the scale of the conspiracy necessary to pull this off is vast enough to make this extremely unlikely.

    Except it isn't a conspiracy; we're talking about a national 'darknet' that taps key points in the internet and then mirrors that data to a processing facility before being stored in a relational database. It's not a conspiracy, numerous government officials have already gone on the record as saying this technology exists, today, now. It's not classified. It's not a secret. They've come right out and said this capability exists.

    LOL

    A former agent for the counter-terrorism branch of our largest federal law enforcement agency talking about the technology used in counter-terrorism is about as credible as it gets, dude. LOL all you want, but your own cred is the only thing the rest of us are laughing at: You're an internet pundit.

  • Re:Jupiter Tape? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Sunday May 05, 2013 @09:34PM (#43638291)

    If he wasn't lying, he would be arrested for violation of his LIFE LONG NDA you sign when you take a job with the The FBI.

    That's such a load of bullshit I'm surprised I'm the first to call you out on it. The overwhelming majority of the FBI's records are public; they're called court cases. And yes, the agents can discuss them. The agents can even discuss the methods that they use. The only thing agents can't discuss is material related to an active or ongoing investigation, or material that has been classified. There no evidence that either condition has been met here.

    People should remember just how terrible Americans are at keeping a secret.

    Yup. Everybody knows how to build nuclear weapons, stealth bombers, ICBMs, because we're terrible at keeping secrets. So, tell me, what's the maximum listing angle that any of our nuclear submarines can operate at before they automatically shut down? You don't know? Okay, how about this one: When is the next high-energy test of the HARRP? Don't know that one either? Umm, how about a real easy one: Who's the pilot of Air Force One? Ah, didn't think so.

    Someone would have leaked this long ago, just as the secret room at the AT&T switch center was leaked within a couple months.

    Yeah, it's a super duper big secret that the government can tap phones and digital lines. Dude, you make this leak sound like it was some kind of blow to our nation's intelligence operations, rather than having all the relevance of knowing the President ordered his latte with skim milk this morning. It wasn't a secret; It just wasn't advertised. There's a big difference. You won't find our nuclear missile silos in North Dakota on google map with the words "Secret Nuclear Missile Silos Here" underneath; But that doesn't mean they aren't there, nor does it mean that there's extra-special effort being taken to keep them secret. They just aren't advertised -- everyone knows they're there.

    It wouldn't come from a lowly guy hyping a book.

    Yes, a "lowly" agent of our largest law enforcement agency, discussing something that he did professionally for many years, and the tools he used to do that job should be trusted less than random internet pundit "leaking" the same information.

  • by decora (1710862) on Sunday May 05, 2013 @09:49PM (#43638369) Journal

    i know that you work some place and thats impressive but there are just mounds of evidence that prove you are wrong. and several other comment threads above with the same idea.

    "i work for a telco, there is no way this is possible"

    "ok thats great, except for several well known court cases that prove the exact opposite of what you are saying"

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