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Google Asks Government For More Transparency, Other Groups Push Back Against NSA 323

Posted by Soulskill
from the do-not-go-gentle dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "In an open letter addressed to U.S. attorney general Eric Holder and FBI director Robert Mueller, Google chief legal officer David Drummond again insisted that reports of his company freely offering user data to the NSA and other agencies were untrue. 'However,' he wrote, 'government nondisclosure obligations regarding the number of FISA national security requests that Google receives, as well as the number of accounts covered by those requests, fuel that speculation.' In light of that, Drummond had a request of the two men: 'We therefore ask you to help make it possible for Google to publish in our Transparency Report aggregate numbers of national security requests, including FISA disclosures—in terms of both the number we receive and their scope.' Apparently Google's numbers would show 'that our compliance with these requests falls far short of the claims being made.' Google, Drummond added, 'has nothing to hide.'" Another open letter was sent to Congress from a variety of internet companies and civil liberties groups (headlined by Mozilla, the EFF, the ACLU, and the FSF), asking them to enact legislation to prohibit the kind of surveillance apparently going on at the NSA and to hold accountable the people who implemented it. (A bipartisan group of senators has just come forth with legislation that would end such surveillance.) In addition to the letter, the ACLU sent a lawsuit as well, directed at President Obama, Eric Holder, the NSA, Verizon and the Dept. of Justice (filing, PDF). They've also asked (PDF) for a release of court records relevant to the scandal. Mozilla has also launched Stopwatching.us, a campaign to "demand a full accounting of the extent to which our online data, communications and interactions are being monitored." Other reactions: Tim Berners-Lee is against it, Australia's Foreign Minister doesn't mind it, the European Parliament has denounced it, and John Oliver is hilarious about it (video). Meanwhile, Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who leaked the information about the NSA's surveillance program, is being praised widely as a hero and a patriot. There's already a petition on Whitehouse.gov to pardon him for his involvement, and it's already reached half the required number of signatures for a response from the Obama administration.
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Google Asks Government For More Transparency, Other Groups Push Back Against NSA

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  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @05:53PM (#43978985)

    Keep writing your Congressmen AND your local media outlets. Actually, write a letter, email it again, then call and leave a brief message about the same topic. And, make it clear that you will vote them out on that issue. They do cave in when they think their jobs are on the line.

    • by dunng808 (448849) <osp&aloha,com> on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @06:10PM (#43979183) Homepage Journal

      David Drummond got it just right. I do think wide scale monitoring should stop, but shedding some light on what really is happening is necessary to gain the voter's trust.

      Big Government is more than just government. These are people, with agendas, who will abuse their power to achieve their personal objectives, wrapped in a shroud of doing what's right for the country. Then there is political party affiliation, where too often people are loyal to the point of treading on their opponents rights. Big Government puts power in the hands of individual people, and that is where it is abused.

      • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @07:02PM (#43979633)

        David Drummond got it just right.

        David Drummond got it completely wrong. He's either openly lieing or an idiot. The NSA doesn't have to let Google know they are taking data from them. If the NSA thinks they have the legal authority, they'll just plant their own DBAs at google, give themselves API access and run whatever queries they want against their data anytime they want. It's not like Google could tell given the amount of transactions they're likely seeing in a day. Likely the only reason Google ever sees a FISA request is because the data needs to be used in court.

        There is an active and concerted effort to play down what's actually happened here. Remember that the united states spends 80 BILLION dollars on intelligence a year. They have several data centers that dwarf even Google in size. They pull more power than most large cities to run them. Do you really think this is limited to a few thousand or even hundred thousand data requests per year? The feds have access to all the data... from every large company... they are storing it, querying it, and likely doing all of this without a court order. Our government is completely out of control, this has to stop, and it's up to them to prove they've limited their surveillance, it's not up to us to trust them.

        • Soooo... In other words, we should trust our government.... to always be doing bad in everything they do.

          I completely agree. How about this: Science. They make a claim some bill is good for us, we actually test the hypothesis and either keep or repeal the acts and laws if they are not beneficial, i.e. if there's no appreciable difference, then they get repealed because: Less rules = easier to understand system. We need to do this for every law on the book. Seems like what we need is science. I would start with three lettered agencies, followed by copyrights and patents. We have Zero evidence that they are beneficial. It would be irresponsible to continue running the wold on untested unproven hypotheses.

          • by postbigbang (761081) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @08:26PM (#43980289)

            I'm not sure where you got "trust our government" out of that, but there'll be no clean sweep of anything. There will be kicking and screaming and feet dragging and lots of weird jingoistic aphorisms kicked around for a while.

            Then it will continue, perhaps slightly hobbled. I'm not saying that I agree that it should continue, rather, the reality is you're up against very serious money and lots of misguided do-gooders here.

            The worst problem: people now mistrust their governments more than ever. Transparency is in the crapper. It's not like we geeks didn't realize this was likely decades ago, rather, it's the revelation that once again, our worst fears are realized-- by our own paid officials.

          • by c0lo (1497653)

            Soooo... In other words, we should trust our government.... to always be doing bad in everything they do

            Not necessarily. The healthy position is: never trust a government to do the right thing - always keep them in check. This is how the democracy works and the only chance to maintain a working democracy (this is why govt secrecy is bad). If you think it's expensive or dangerous, you are welcome to try the lack of democracy.

            Note the difference to: always trust them to do the wrong thing - so let's throw a riot or a revolution every time they do something/anything.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Big Government is more than just government.

          “Collection directly from the servers of these U.S. Service Providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube [and] Apple.” (NSA Presentation)

        In the US, your problem is that you have fascism, not big government.

        • by multi io (640409)
          The question I've been asking myself is this: Snowden claims that he could "get your emails, passwords, phone records, credit cards", i.e. that NSA analysts can tap into pretty much any communication and read pretty much any mail that anyone sends. If that's true, why didn't he prove that to the Guardian people before he blew his cover? If I imagine I was someone who could read anyone's mail at will, and I wanted to expose myself to an outside reporter, the least I would do is show that reporter some emails
          • by MickLinux (579158)

            Or that they have gotten CPU manufacturers to add back doors there, or that Google IS NSA, or that they arepretty much able to bully whom they want --and do (remember Paulson bullying the president of Bank of America into doing what was good for Paulson, against his fiduciary responsibilities to shareholders), or that the NSA can crack the strong encryption that we have.

            Honsestly, I don't think that last is likely: it is too hard compared to the others. But I named only a few of many possibilities.

            What's th

      • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @07:21PM (#43979809)

        Then there is political party affiliation, where too often people are loyal to the point of treading on their opponents rights.

        I want to comment on this point specifically because what you wrote is a common misunderstanding of such events. Their political opponents are just collateral damage - they are treading on the right of the citizenry to have a fair and representative government. Such actions are a crime against all of us regardless of party affiliation because they are essentially an attack on the democratic process itself.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        David Drummond got it just right. I do think wide scale monitoring should stop, but shedding some light on what really is happening is necessary to gain the voter's trust.

        Why should that be necessary? All that should be needed is a single judge to say that general warrants are unconstitutional. In the opinion, the judge could note that general warrants were one of the causes of the Revolutionary War. The judge could go on and say that the Virginia Declaration of Rights expressly forbid general warrants, which was then used to inspire the 4th Amendment. The judge would finally say that anybody who used general warrants should be tarred and feathered, just like the Founding Fa

    • by girlintraining (1395911) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @06:28PM (#43979337)

      They do cave in when they think their jobs are on the line..

      But they aren't. Everyone in every national-level election for the past twenty years has had their campaign paid for by the same people, often these same people (and groups) sponsored both candidates. And when they leave Congress, they'll have a job waiting for them with one of those groups... on one condition: They don't listen to you or your concerns.

      The most we get anymore now from public outrage is this -- open letters that basically say "Nothing is wrong and we're working to fix it as quickly as possible!"

      • And remember...they didn't do anything illegal, and it's only bad if it's illegal.

        • by Frobnicator (565869) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @07:44PM (#43979979) Journal

          And remember...they didn't do anything illegal, and it's only bad if it's illegal.

          That is where it gets tricky.

          It is easy to jump to conclusions, but just like any other technical field, you need to pay attention to the legal details.

          Technically what they did is legal. It is a loophole that has been in place for two centuries, ever since the Bill of Rights came into effect.

          Police found early on that they cannot compel the person to give up their own records, so they went for business records on the people. For example, if you want to get evidence of tax evasion you don't audit the individual, you get their bank records and other business records. The individual's own records are of very little value to the government. Other examples are your credit report (it is not your data, it is the credit bureau's data), and medical history (it is not your data, it is the hospital's data). They followed the legal steps to compel businesses to give up information about you.

          In that respect, they did follow the law. The spy organizations went to the courts, got a court order demanding business records, and executed the order. The codified law allows those requests, and the individual requests are legal. Congress knew about it, they made it legal. The courts knew about it, they have ruled on it many times. The spy agencies knew about it, they helped craft the laws. That is the law, and they followed it.

          So leads to the difficulty.

          Collecting some records is normally fine. That is how government has operated for two centuries now: Go to the courts, get a rubber stamp, get data from a business. For example, phone records may tie you (or your phone) to a crime. Police get a court's rubber stamp, get the record of an individual call from the phone company and proceed with their investigation. This is a long-established acceptable pattern.

          The law allows for collection of all kinds of data. Collecting all records in aggregate CAN mean something different than individual records. Collecting every record means you CAN track associations and assembly (First Amendment) and your general security (Fourth Amendment). It is a little shaky because they didn't directly interfere with the rights of the individual. The aggregate data MAY be used that way. But just because something CAN happen and MAY be done, but so far nobody can PROVE they were used to actually violate either set of constitutional rights.

          Without that proof, this is a very broad but still perfectly legal demand for data. Hence the difficulty under the law.

          Although I can easily argue that mass collection of data violates the First and Fourth, I am unable to draw a line between where obtaining some records is legal (and it needs to be legal for the system to work) and where it is enough that it violates the constitution. That line needs to be figured out.

          • by meta-monkey (321000) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @08:39PM (#43980411) Journal

            Because the line is a general versus specific warrant. The founding fathers did not want the king's men able to, under orders from the king, kicking in door after to door to see if you're doing anything wrong. So you need a specific warrant from a judge. "We have probable cause to believe this named guy is doing this illegal thing and so we're going to search this place for this object."

            And the judge can't just rubber stamp it because when the evidence obtained via the warrant is used in the trial, if the warrant was obtained or used improperly, the evidence can be thrown out. That stamp is a safeguard for the citizen, and a check on the power of government, because executive officers (police) who either seek or use warrants improperly are liable to be fired.

            But this is not that. This is a general warrant. This is "all phone records," not just "phone records of terror suspect Abdul from time A to time B."

            And there's several ways to use this data, all of which are horrible in a "free" society.

            1) The precedent is set. No judicial oversight is required to be declared an "enemy combatant." Holder has informed us that "due" process is required, but that is not necessarily a judicial process. A process of the President deciding "that guy's an enemy combatant" exists (by saying so), so that's all legal. And once you're an enemy combatant, you can be detained indefinitely, tortured, and executed (via drone), even if you're a US citizen. And nobody will give a shit, and it will all be legal.

            2) Via the spying, "legal" metadata or "illegal" actual data, they identify you as an undesirable. Perhaps you're actually engaged in something illegal they'd like to stop. A whisper to an FBI agent, "hey, watch that guy." Then the FBI gets a legal warrant, busts you, and the fact that they knew to start watching you because of the super secret NSA spying is unknown and basically irrelevant.

            3) Same as 2, but perhaps you're just a political dissident or a critic of the administration or the NSA. Or maybe you cut an NSA agent off in traffic. Who knows. Since everything is now illegal, you're always doing something wrong. They just have to find it, and since they know everything you've done, everywhere you've been, everyone you've talked to, everything you've bought and everything you've sold and every picture of your dick you've texted. What to do what to do...arrest you for violating the terms of use of a website via the CFAA like Aaron Schwartz? Audit your taxes like a Tea Partier? Reveal your affair to your wife? Make your boss aware of how much time you're spending on Slashdot? Somebody could ruin your life in all sorts of ways. Those ways might be "illegal" but how would you know that's how or why you were ruined?

            It is point and click tyranny.

      • open letters that basically say "Nothing is wrong and we're working to fix it as quickly as possible!"

        Thant is my standard email to the teams whose tech I support

    • by Greyfox (87712) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @06:38PM (#43979423) Homepage Journal
      It's just because they got caught. We were all screaming about Carnivore back in the 90's and no one listened. The histronics associated with the realization that various TLAs are listening to all communications are disingenuous at best or the result of really, really bad journalists at worst. This story is not a story. It was a story two decades ago.
    • by houghi (78078) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @06:45PM (#43979483)

      And YOU should write. Do not let companies defend your rights, because they are not interested in them.
      Do not say later: we didn't know.

  • by bl968 (190792) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @05:58PM (#43979039) Journal

    I have been thinking about the claims by Facebook and Google that no government agencies have direct access to their servers, and that is likely quite correct.

    What they do most likely have, is a tap point on Facebook's and Google's networks which can then snoop on all traffic between their servers and their users and visa versa then ship it off en masse to the NSA for processing and storage... So their statements while technically true, are still intentionally false and misleading.

    It's been well known that the government has had these taps on the major phone company networks and the internet backbone for years.

    • by Synerg1y (2169962)

      I read about this somewhere... they use a web crawler to get the PUBLIC data, private data requires court order, which is liberally given at the slightest suspicion of anything (remember that case w the teen girl and judge ordering her to give up her facebook password randomly?).

      Also, the Utah datacenter was in the news a year or two ago, people didn't make a big deal of it then, even though it was correctly (now known) guessed that it would be used for mass surveillance.

      They can just intercept everything e

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @06:12PM (#43979201)

      They will continue to say 'no direct access' or whatever other prepared 'legal' bullshit re-definition of common sense they've cooked up.

      They bottom line is that they are blatantly violating the constitution and directly offending virtually every single American in this country. This is a clear and present a danger to personal freedom as there can be.

      Everyone should take an hour this weekend and use to the internet to see what their sitting reps and senators voted on atrocities like the Patriot Act, etc.

      Vote these people out. Then demand that whomever takes their place repeal all of this garbage. Then we can move on to the bankers...

    • by Jonah Hex (651948)
      They are probably directed as part of the Special Source Ops program to tell the NSA version of the truth. If you are legally obligated to lie, to tell only the truth the government wants out there, you'd have to talk around it in order to promote change. So they are being false and misleading because they legally can't do anything else. They need to work in allegory and talk about aspects of it that they can talk about it in public. - HEX
      • by jdogalt (961241)

        this

        we are not crazy. They are misleading us, and it gets insane when they feel so guilty that have to resort to these tactics.

    • I have been thinking about the claims by Facebook and Google that no government agencies have direct access to their servers, and that is likely quite correct.

      What they do most likely have, is a tap point on Facebook's and Google's networks which can then snoop on all traffic between their servers and their users and visa versa then ship it off en masse to the NSA for processing and storage... So their statements while technically true, are still intentionally false and misleading.

      It's been well known that the government has had these taps on the major phone company networks and the internet backbone for years.

      I've been feeling that they are liking arguing semantics. Sure the government doesn't have direct access but a 3rd party does and via perhaps their data the government gets what it wants or something a long those lines.

    • by vettemph (540399) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @06:37PM (#43979419)

      And why does traceroute show that EVERYTHING I ever trace goes through Washington, Ashburn VA. or McLean VA.

        I usually use the 'mtr' command (linux). I've been seeing this for years and have always been suspicious about it.
        The FBI wants us to report suspicious activity in case of terrorists. Well, I find this suspicious.

    • Actually, they don't need access to Google and Facebook data, they have direct access to all communications at the connection points [zerohedge.com].

      • https (Score:4, Insightful)

        by jdogalt (961241) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @06:59PM (#43979611) Journal

        Actually, they don't need access to Google and Facebook data, they have direct access to all communications at the connection points [zerohedge.com].

        umm... https dude

        • > umm... https dude

          Unless google, et al are using compromised certs. They may not even know it if they are, maybe the NSA has co-opted the guy at each company who generates them. Cash, blackmail, misguided sense of patriotism, who knows but it is a seriously valuable point of vulnerability for all of them.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by kllrnohj (2626947)

            Google is using ECDHE for HTTPS. Unless NSA has been running an incredibly good MITM that nobody has detected and has never once had a single outage or issue, HTTPS to Google has been uncompromised since 2011.

            Sadly more people aren't using ECDHE yet, though, so the same can't be said of most sites which could very well have compromised certs. Perhaps this can be used to help push ECDHE more broadly, although I kind of doubt anyone will really care, sadly.

          • You are correct. They have access to the root certs. HTTPS using commercial PKI it totally accessible on the fly by US government surveillance agencies.
    • by BitterOak (537666)

      I have been thinking about the claims by Facebook and Google that no government agencies have direct access to their servers, and that is likely quite correct.

      What they do most likely have, is a tap point on Facebook's and Google's networks which can then snoop on all traffic between their servers and their users and visa versa then ship it off en masse to the NSA for processing and storage...

      But most traffic to and from Facebook and Google now is SSL encrypted. So the questions is, has Google and/or Facebook provided the government with the means to decrypt it?

    • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @07:07PM (#43979685)

      What they do most likely have, is a tap point on Facebook's and Google's networks

      You're way over-thinking this. The NSA just sends their DBA's over to google with fake credentials. They get hired based on their stellar work history. Then they create accounts with full access to Googles APIs and hand them over to the NSA. The NSA can run any query they want against googles data. They can even CHANGE it. It would be a trivial thing to do and would only be noticed if the traffic was excessive. I doubt there's any query that Google would even bat an eyelash at given their size.

      • by kllrnohj (2626947)

        You're way over-thinking this. The NSA just sends their DBA's over to google with fake credentials. They get hired based on their stellar work history. Then they create accounts with full access to Googles APIs and hand them over to the NSA. The NSA can run any query they want against googles data. They can even CHANGE it. It would be a trivial thing to do and would only be noticed if the traffic was excessive. I doubt there's any query that Google would even bat an eyelash at given their size.

        That would be damn near impossible. Do you really think Google has no security whatsoever on API access much less data access? I'm pretty sure if the new hire goes to the security team and says "hey, let me punch a hole in the network to the outside world for this API. Oh, and I need also need to approve this API to access all this data" they aren't just going to blindly say "sure thing, no problem!"

    • There was an interview this morning on NPR with James Bamford where he claims the NSA has prisms installed on major fiber optic backbones to get their own duplicate direct feeds. So that's why they call the operation "Prism". See http://www.npr.org/2013/06/11/190601064/nsa-collects-massive-amounts-of-data-then-what [npr.org].
  • by Faizdog (243703) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @06:02PM (#43979083)

    One of the best comments was from John Oliver on the Daily Show. In response to Obama's defense that there is the FISA court overseeing this and that member's of congress are briefed, he said great, so it's not just one branch of government acting improperly, all 3 are! That's supposed to be better (me paraphrasing). It's not that these programs aren't illegal, it's the very fact that they aren't that's a problem! (Or aren't considered illegal by the government, many would argue they are illegal in sight of the Constitution).

    I'm usually a big government, bleeding heart liberal, but not in the areas of governmental police powers (monitoring citizens, etc). Basically, if the government is helping it's citizens, I support that (healthcare, etc) but if it's looking at it's citizens to protect itself, I don't like that at all.

    Here are 2 quotes that were on /. yesterday:
    "The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government."
    -Patrick Henry

    "The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them."
    Patrick Henry

    • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @06:11PM (#43979195) Homepage Journal

      One you missed:

      "Tyranny is defined as that which is legal for the government but illegal for the citizenry." -- Thomas Jefferson

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by istartedi (132515)

        "If the citizens are not vigilant, I fear we shall be frequently misquoted [monticello.org]" --George Washington

      • by cold fjord (826450) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @08:07PM (#43980143)

        One you missed:

        "Tyranny is defined as that which is legal for the government but illegal for the citizenry." -- Thomas Jefferson

        That doesn't really make any sense. I don't think any reasonable... make that any sane person would claim that individual citizens should be able to own nuclear weapons, nor for that matter arrest people and hold them for questioning. I'm not going to call that tyranny.

        The "quote" is almost certainly apocryphal even if it is popular in certain political spheres.

        Quotation: "Tyranny is defined as that which is legal for the government but illegal for the citizenry." [monticello.org]

        Variations: None known.

        Earliest known appearance in print: No known appearances in print.[1]

        Other attributions: None known.

        Status: This quotation has not been found in any of the writings of Thomas Jefferson.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by udachny (2454394)

      I'm usually a big government, bleeding heart liberal, but not in the areas of governmental police powers (monitoring citizens, etc). Basically, if the government is helping it's citizens, I support that (healthcare, etc) but if it's looking at it's citizens to protect itself, I don't like that at all.

      - you, and others like you are the problem.

      You gave the government its power to abuse the law, the Constitution, you gave the government ability to go above and beyond what is authorized by the Constitution to the government when you stand for things like 'helping citizens'.

      The only way a government can really help citizens is by providing EQUAL TREATMENT UNDER LAW, which is where equal opportunities come from, which is what allows for maximum individual freedom. It is individual freedom that grows the eco

      • by jdogalt (961241) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @07:13PM (#43979739) Journal

        you sound a little like the Ayn Randian Libertarian I was 20 years ago. I suggest you pay a little more attention to the intimacy that our relatively recent history with outright slavery, and subtler forms of exploiting those who in various large subsets of humanity, have had their freedom of speech severely curtailed with no recourse to any effective system of justice.

        Not only do I think your final sentence borders on silly (that the person you are replying to is the 'root cause' of these woes), but I think you are generally wrong. Having social safety nets in place, amongst a system that is almost unavoidably quite leisse-fair predatory (predatory in the sense that some of the winners are completely content winning while directly profiting from some of the losers that they are clearly, directly, stifling the free speech or other rights of)- ... is a good idea.

        Now, I do believe that charity should generally be voluntary. But giving a person shelter, food, and clothing, rather than watching them waste away in the elements, is not only a pleasant thing to do, but also overall net profitable to everyone who failed to see the better wisdom of putting forth the effort necessary to have those safety nets sufficiently in place that there is no demand for a governmental safety net.

      • people are served best by other people trying to figure out how to serve people in the most efficient way possible by doing what people are actually interested in.

        Yes, and that is what is called forming a government, the problem is not government itself the problem getting them to keep their eye on that goal. The "profit" from a well run public sewer/water works is that WE don't die, the profit from a well run UHC (such as the one here in Oz) is that it cost much less (1.5% of taxable income) and nobody goes bankrupt due to illness.

        You are the root cause that created this problem

        If you're not interested in that then fine but other people are and it has nothing to do with them trampling your rights and everything t

    • by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @06:17PM (#43979255)

      One of the best comments was from John Oliver on the Daily Show.

      His best line was something like "we're not accusing you of breaking any laws, we're just surprised you didn't."

      He also pointed out how the FISA courts, which are there to oversee any surveillance requests, have literally never denied a request. That's some good rubber-stamping action there.

      • What's truly scary? The one they didn't. [eff.org] So they rubber stamped thousands of orders that basically amounted to "everything anyone does anywhere," but on at least one occasion they ruled one thing "unconstitutional."

        Get that? Recording your email, your search history, photos, videos, phone records, whatever, just fine. If that stuff was fine...what the hell did they want to do that WASN'T fine?

  • by cervesaebraciator (2352888) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @06:03PM (#43979103)
    If you're concerned about customer pushback from this surveillance, support the EFF like the gun industry supports the NRA. May the EFF be as effective in defending our first and fourth amendment rights as the NRA is at going after any opposition to the second.
    • I don't think you understand. The Internet has been militarized. The tech companies are now defense contractors.

  • "Please help us not look like your bitch."
  • by BUL2294 (1081735) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @06:05PM (#43979119)
    Given everything that I've heard about PRISM over the past few days, I have one major question...

    How do they know who is a US citizen and who isn't?

    I don't remember being asked nor answering a "citizenship question" when signing up for GMail, Hotmail, Facebook, Skype, YouTube, etc. Is the NSA data matching names to (known) citizens and throwing out that data? Kinda tough to accurately do so for the "Bill Smiths" of the world, not all of which live in the US. Are they building a profile of everyone by address, thus assuming US residents are "citizens"? If I set up a fake Hotmail account as "Bubbles Sanchez" and say I live in Miami (and my ISP says I'm in Miami), does that make me and my data a "citizen" in the eyes of the NSA?

    Or are they simply vacuuming up everything from these sites and TELLING US they're not looking at US citizens' data, simply because they don't have a decent way (let alone a fool-proof one) to tell who is a citizen or not?
    • Who surely are being hoovered up?
    • by BUL2294 (1081735) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @06:16PM (#43979243)
      Oh wait... According to John Oliver, if some NSA system gives me a 51% "foreignness" rating, I must be a foreigner and not a US citizen.

      Well, I feel confident...
    • They have ways of knowing who is a US citizens . . . but those ways . . . are, like, secret . . . you know . . . ?

      • by BUL2294 (1081735)
        No, they don't. Sure, those born in the USA in a hospital and those who have passports are generally known. But there are people who don't know they even are American citizens, as they were born in a foreign country & had one parent who might dual-citizenship, yet have never set foot on American soil... I doubt the NSA knows those peoples' names & doubtful they're throwing out data associated with those people... I doubt the NSA knows unless the IRS comes knocking on those (unknown) citizens' door
    • Did they say they weren't looking at US citizens' data?

      I understood that they said they were getting meta-data on everyone. Period.

      And that it was legal because some BS rubber stamp court said so.

      • You're getting the surveillance efforts mixed up--perfectly understandable given how fast this stuff's been coming out. He's talking about PRISM [wikipedia.org], a program whereby the NSA is able to obtain "email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, voice over IP conversations, file transfers, login notifications and social networking details." This is what the apologists would have you think does not cover everyone. You're thinking of the related FISA requests to Verizon [wikipedia.org], which covers more or less everyone.
    • How do they know who is a US citizen and who isn't?

      Check out the Daily Show video and the clip they show from MS NBC, they're basically flipping a coin. 51% accuracy.

    • One thing that is known about Google is that it always keeps a record of the location an account was created in. If you created a Google account in Pakistan and moved to US for 10 years and then deleted all your emails at end of 10 years and then logged in to the account from UK, Google still will remember that this account was tied to a Pakistani user.
      Maybe they use it to determine nationality ? Or maybe they assume you are an alien unless proved otherwise (credit cards, mobile numbers etc.?)
    • by Patch86 (1465427) on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @04:24AM (#43982741)

      Are you implying that you're OK with your government massively invading MY privacy (as a UK citizen), as long as you're alright Jack? Nice to know that this isn't a moral issue of Orwellian abuse for you, but just a selfish desire to keep the thugs from your own front door.

      I also hope you're OK with foreign governments returning the favour and monitoring your very move. Your definitely won't be complaining about having your rights violated if it's a British or Chinese agency reading your every email and logging your every phone call, right?

  • by hurfy (735314) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @06:08PM (#43979165)

    Google recieves a record low number of nasty letters, only 50. One for Alabama, One for Alaska........

    Not interested in more noninformative information.

    meh, too lazy to write out the full rant

  • by gmuslera (3436) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @06:09PM (#43979177) Homepage Journal
    Germans [reuters.com] aren't happy about it neither. Will demand explanations to Obama when he visits them next week.
  • Petition (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DaMattster (977781) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @06:11PM (#43979197)
    Just signed it. Took a set of brass balls for Snowden to do what he did and, yes, he is a real patriot for standing up for the civil rights and liberties of the American people.
  • by bogidu (300637) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @06:12PM (#43979199)

    Tell them to get bent, Americans are citizens, not subjects!

  • I'm very curious about the security of my "cloud"
  • Burn It (Score:3, Insightful)

    by KeensMustard (655606) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @06:17PM (#43979253)
    Burn it in the only way you can. Write letters, protest at every opportunity, and in every forum.

    Be polite if you can, but recognise that social graces have their place, and if need be, you might need to be rude. Don't let quislings tell you "it's for the safety/the family/the children" without confronting them. Don't let quislings tell you "it's the fault of KODOS" they are just trying to make this a different discussion they can control.

    We've all felt helpless for far too long. I say "we" I'm not an american, but every western country has seen this creeping up on them. I'm not stupid enough to imagine that the NSA doesn't keep data on me if that serves some commercial or political advantage for some client. So we stand with you. You aren't helpless. The pen is still mightier than the sword.

  • by jpc1957 (1820122) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @06:21PM (#43979277)
    Innocent individuals identified as suspects are the biggest issue to me. For all those people that say there isn't any issue with any level of snooping if you don't have anything to hide, you are exactly who should be worried. The more data available to analyze, the more false positives will be identified. And the attitude now is we can't risk any potential terrorist falling through the cracks. Combine that with gag orders, security letters instead of warrants, sting operations, indefinite determent.. It's guaranteed that some very unlucky and completely innocent people will be going through hell for a long time.
    • by meta-monkey (321000) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @07:17PM (#43979771) Journal

      Also, I'm sick of the word "snooping." This is not snooping.

      Snooping is what you do when you're 8 and you look in your parents' closet for your Christmas presents.

      Snooping is what you do when you ask around if the cute girl in school has a boyfriend and if she just "likes" you or if she "like likes" you.

      This is spying. This is invading. This is tracking, watching, monitoring, recording everything you, your mom and your kid sister do and storing it forever.

      And what's scarier than that revelation? CNN. I always knew the media in the US was "US centric." The reporters are Americans, so of course they're going to be more forgiving of stuff the government does to foreigners. But I rejected the "conspiracy theory" that what they report is dictated by the government, as they're for-profit companies. And they're lazy, so the horse race, talking heads reporting was just what lazy companies do.

      But that's not the case here. If they're just lazy...fuck, this should be easy. Massive government scandal. McCarthy/Watergate/Pentagon Papers all rolled into one. A reporter and a news agency could make a career, an empire out of this! Don't journalism students want to be Bob Woodward?

      And what's on the front page of CNN right now? I just looked. A picture of George W. Bush and a headline "Miss me yet?" about a poll. Another story "Second term blues for Obama." The same "hero or traitor?" op-ed everybody else has wherein "security experts" call him a traitor and then they find misspelled quotes from stoners about him, like, tellin' off the man and stuff, man.

      "Hero or traitor? Who can say!" Ummmmm...you can, CNN. That's your fucking job. It is literally the divide and conquer bullshit from Goebbels. Confirmation that both parties are totally fine with spying on every American citizen, and that's "second term blues?" SECOND TERM BLUES?! Completely unconscionable, unconstitutional, straight-up evil actions at the highest levels of the land, and that's "the blues?" No, CNN, that's not the blues. "Aw, shucks, I missed the bus and spilled coffee on my shirt" is the blues. This shit...this shit is not the blues. And the cure for the blues is the poll on the other story about electing a Republican next time, because that'll fix it, right?

      They're really complicit in feeding the red vs blue bullshit machine, when it would be easier, and more profitable to investigate the whole system.

      My dad always told me, "never attribute to malice what's just as likely ignorance." I thought CNN and the MSM were just lazy and inept, but...this isn't lazy or inept. This is directed. There's no other explanation.

      I want my mommy.

    • For all those people that say there isn't any issue with any level of snooping if you don't have anything to hide, you are exactly who should be worried. The more data available to analyze, the more false positives will be identified. ..... It's guaranteed that some very unlucky and completely innocent people will be going through hell for a long time.

      When people are directly communicating with terrorist groups there would seem to be little chance of a "false positive." At the least it would reasonably indicate the need for additional scrutiny. The problem might actually be the reverse, the false negative. Consider the case of Major Hasan. He was in direct contact [nytimes.com] with American cleric turned terrorist, Anwar al-Awlaki. That direct contact was looked at and written off. Major Hasan then went on to kill 13 people and wound 30 at Fort Hood. It now lo

  • by OverlordQ (264228) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @06:21PM (#43979281) Journal

    it's already reached half the required number of signatures for a response from the Obama administration.

    You're expecting more than "We cannot comment on an ongoing criminal investigation."?

  • The government should be all over this since they are going to the "give me all your data" model.
    Google should soon safely be able to say: We got one FISA request last year.

  • I propose that we need to call on the brightest and best and put together a think tank for fixing the mess that passes for security these days.

    It is well past time that we fix SMTP, DNS, HTTP and others to require strong point to point encryption and fail if that security is broken.

    • by jdogalt (961241)

      residential citizens are almost universally prohibited from running servers via terms of service and lack of competing alternatives with equivalent bandwidth rates and better terms of service. This is the blueprint for how a dictatorship can control the internet. Star topology. Centralized Services and tap points. Distributed encrypted communication like that of pgp/gpg combined with smtp node servers including your local workstation (a system familiar to old geeks) is simply not an option in a dictator

      • by Joe U (443617)

        Which is exactly why we need to get people to start talking about how to fix this. Properly done, it can be something as simple as a browser plug-in or as complex as a series of local services.

        Either way, I don't know the solution, but I know we need a solution.

  • How well can the NSA determine the calls source?
    I get telemarketer calls daily: "Pack your bags..."
    Always spoofed caller ID from a VOIP indian call center.
    The phone company can't seem to block these crap calls.
    What's to stop someone from framing someone if they got a hold of a suspicious #.
    Hate your spouse, spoof their # calling it. Hate your political opponent, do it to them.

    Just curious.

    • by erroneus (253617)

      They apparently have a box in every telco office. They can completely trace any call back to its origin.

      • by AHuxley (892839)
        Yes if your telco can bill you for that call, the NSA knows where it came from, destination, duration. If your conversation is interesting you trip the "dictionary" list and get recorded.
        If the number you called is interesting you get recorded.
        If the voice print of the person you are calling is interesting you get recorded.
        They have your voice print for all other calls you make.
        They are, like your telco at your subscriber loop carrier ~ exchange level.
        Caller ID is just some fancy layer packed in wit
  • by Goboxer (1821502) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @07:10PM (#43979717)

    I actually made most of this comment in another post about the NSA but it bears repeating.

    ACLU Petition to Stop Massive Government Spying Program [aclu.org]

    Please sign that petition. Or go through the EFF action page [eff.org]. Or Write your Representative [house.gov] or Write your Senators [myrepresentatives.com]. They are easy enough to find [usa.gov]. Seriously. If you aren't telling the people that represent you how wrong, awful, and downright unacceptable the NSA actions are they have no reason to stick their neck out to change it.

    Nobody is asking you to fight a war, like previous generations of Americans have. Just sign a petition. Write a letter. It is that easy to improve this country. Whether you think that is true or not, remember that an outcry from a small group of people have altered politics before and it can happen again. The only thing preventing this country from getting better is silence.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @07:39PM (#43979953) Homepage

    I'm sorry... but really? "Please, let us tell the truth?!" I can't say precisely when things went "too far" but I can definitely say that things have most certainly, and unquestionably, gone too far.

  • by Faizdog (243703) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @07:48PM (#43980013)

    You know what's so scary about stuff like this? It's that it makes people afraid of what they will post and discuss. One absurd end of the spectrum is what I've heard Soviet Russia was sometimes like, people always afraid of what they said to whom.

    I'm a naturalized US citizen. Due to my country of origin, I'm probably already on some watch list somewhere, despite the fact that I've never done anything remotely dangerous.
    Now, I figure that give mes some points on some kind of a danger/threat scale.

    This issue is something I care deeply about. Over the last few days, I've been hesitant about drawing attention to it and responding to it online/via electronic communications. I've posted on Slashdot about it, sent emails and texts to friends and relatives, posted about it on my Facebook status, submitted e-mailed letters to my congressional representatives through the EFF website, donated to the EFF and ACLU, read newspaper stories, articles, websites and commentaries, etc.

    At each step, I've been afraid. What if being linked to this type of activity gives me more points on some kind of a danger scale? What if I cross a threshold? What if the government starts making my life difficult in subtle ways? Trouble flying? I am planning on marrying someone from my country of origin, what if my application to sponsor them for a greencard is denied? What if, what if?

    That's the real trouble, this type of activity raises concerns and issues in people's daily lives. It creates a culture of fear. At the end of the day, I became a US citizen because I believe in the opportunity this country provides, and in the legal basis it was founded on, and the human rights it supposedly supports. I want to do whatever I can to support my country, and exercise my rights as a citizen to correct what I perceive are wrongs.

    I'm really hoping that this advocacy doesn't hurt me in the future somehow. That's the real harm when government spies and tracks with a carte blanche, people who are doing nothing wrong but have much to lose are afraid.

  • Google, Drummond added, 'has nothing to hide.'"

    We know that, and that's the problem with Google. They never have anything to hide...and when we use their services, neither do we.

  • by opkool (231966) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @09:04PM (#43980595) Homepage

    I just donated to the EFF.

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