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When the NSA Shows Up At Your Internet Company 309

Posted by samzenpus
from the when-the-man-comes-around dept.
Frosty Piss writes "When people say the feds are monitoring what people are doing online, what does that mean? How does that work? When, and where, does it start? Pete Ashdown, CEO of XMission, an internet service provider in Utah, knows. He received a Foreign Intelligence Service Act (FISA) warrant in 2010 mandating he let the feds monitor one of his customers, through his facility. He also received a broad gag order. Says Mr. Ashdown, 'I would love to tell you all the details, but I did get the gag order... These programs that violate the Bill of Rights can continue because people can't go out and say, This my experience, this is what happened to me, and I don't think it is right.' In this article, Mr. Ashdown tells us about the equipment the NSA installed on his network, and what he thinks it did."
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When the NSA Shows Up At Your Internet Company

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  • by auric_dude (610172) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @03:10PM (#44344675)
    The company, a comparative midget with just 30,000 subscribers, cited the Fourth Amendment in rebuffing warrantless requests from local, state and federal authorities, showing it was possible to resist official pressure says it all http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jul/09/xmission-isp-customers-privacy-nsa [guardian.co.uk]
    • by Penguinisto (415985) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @05:08PM (#44345477) Journal

      Something to consider:

      I once worked for a company that used XMission's downtown SLC location as its colo location; excellent guys, and kick-ass service. That said, there's one other bit: a large number of their 30k customers are some rather large(-ish) corporations and companies - a few of whom have the ear of Sen. Orrin Hatch, among others in both state and federal government... not to mention (guessing this part, but given their location and name) they likely have a very strong hook into the LDS hierarchy.

      (By the by, XMission is one of the few (and IMO lucky) ISP's who provide for/with the UTOPIA fiber-to-home networks, and IIRC the only local/SLC-based one. )

      IOW, they're not just some tiny naive dial-up provider. If they didn't have a line to some heavy-hitters, I'd wager that they'd likely buckle to the demands out of sheer survival instinct, if for no other reason.

      • by Garridan (597129) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @05:27PM (#44345617)

        I once worked for a company that used XMission's downtown SLC location as its colo location; excellent guys, and kick-ass service.

        I second this. My boss was a good friend of Pete's, and our site was hosted there. I got to hang out with Pete quite a bit, and he's a superb example of a human being. Moral, upstanding, and fair. XMission isn't just a 'tiny ISP', it's a long-proven company with a history of smashing success; rather than expand to a national then multinational power, it has kept sight of its core, takes care of its people, and focuses on offering the best product for its customers. This is the ISP after which all others should be modeled. Pete Ashdown for president!

      • They are the best (Score:5, Informative)

        by AndreyFilippov (550131) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @05:50PM (#44345755) Homepage
        I'm Xmission customer for 18 years and they are the best. They always notified subscribers of any interruptions of the service even if it happened for 5 minutes in the middle of the night, decribing what went wrong and what have they done to prevent similar problems in the future.
        And I still drive with Pete Ashdown sticker on the back of my car since he ran for the US Senate - but it is not easy do win for a Democrat in one of the most Republican states.
        • And I still drive with Pete Ashdown sticker on the back of my car since he ran for the US Senate - but it is not easy do win for a Democrat in one of the most Republican states.

          Oh, crap! I totally forgot he did that!

          As for his odds? Gotta remember that SLC did elect Rocky Anderson awhile back...

      • by Behrooz (302401) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @08:54PM (#44346597)

        I once worked for a company that used XMission's downtown SLC location as its colo location; excellent guys, and kick-ass service. That said, there's one other bit: a large number of their 30k customers are some rather large(-ish) corporations and companies - a few of whom have the ear of Sen. Orrin Hatch, among others in both state and federal government... not to mention (guessing this part, but given their location and name) they likely have a very strong hook into the LDS hierarchy.

        Really, it's even more impressive. Pete Ashdown ran as a Democrat against Orrin Hatch in the 2006 senate election. [wikipedia.org] Lost, of course, but Hatch ended up spending close to five megabucks on the campaign, and Ashdown did better than anyone else has against Hatch in recent memory, despite Hatch's ridiculous campaign funding and stranglehold on Utah politics.

        Pete Ashdown is an impressively brave and principled individual, and it'd surprise me greatly if he even imagined any possible support from Hatch or the majority of the Church hierarchy in any civil liberties dispute with the feds. He's just a badass in general.

        • by fsterman (519061)

          I'd like to second the parents refutation that XMission has any special connections within the church. Given that they host Maddox [xmission.com] for free and Pete Ashdown ran as a Democrat, I doubt they have any connection with the church. Their customers might but...

    • by slick7 (1703596)

      The company, a comparative midget with just 30,000 subscribers, cited the Fourth Amendment in rebuffing warrantless requests from local, state and federal authorities, showing it was possible to resist official pressure says it all http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jul/09/xmission-isp-customers-privacy-nsa [guardian.co.uk]

      In the immortal words of James Tiberius Kirk, "We come in peace, shoot to kill".

  • by Rick Zeman (15628) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @03:10PM (#44344681)

    Wonder what the consequences of that would be? Do two skeevy acts add up to a good act?

  • No Surprises Here (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    You can't contest these FISA orders because even acknowledging them is a federal crime.

    First rule of FISA: Don't talk about FISA

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by mrbester (200927)

      It was only when they popped by with the full document from the FISA court that it became "legitimate". Before then it was simply a piece of paper that cannot have provenance attached to it, so what the attorney should have said is "it is probably legitimate".

      I've got a number of emails from Nigerian princes and domain renewal documents that are just as "legitimate"...

    • by Bengie (1121981)
      How does one authenticate their authenticity?
      • by tftp (111690) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @05:57PM (#44345801) Homepage

        How does one authenticate their authenticity?

        When men with guns say it's authentic, it is.

        • by Bruce66423 (1678196) on Monday July 22, 2013 @02:54AM (#44348105)
          A big visible camera - and a smaller hidden one - at the entrance to your building with microphones, so you make sure that the identity of the agents is very public information when they present themselves at your front door. Reading out of the warrant at the time of reception as is legally acceptable, would probably blow the investigation as soon as it starts. We need to play legal games the same as they do.
      • Re:No Surprises Here (Score:4, Informative)

        by Charliemopps (1157495) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @09:06PM (#44346655)

        Having worked for an ISP and at one point having to deal with these myself, you don't really. You send it up to the lawyers. They can do some basic checks. The request comes in, there's an agents name and where he/she works. The lawyers call there, talk to someone that's NOT him about it... that's about as far as you can check it. The main thing you're trying to prevent is someones ex-husband requesting his ex-wives call logs and such... that actually happens more than you'd think. Once it was even a cop and the case number and everything were bullshit. But if the entire law enforcement agency in question is up to no good, there's no way to prevent that. It's not like you can call up the judge and ask them about it.

        I've mentioned this in the past but it bears mentioning again, we RARELY got requests. There were very very few. It always suggested to me that had better/easier ways to get the same info and it was only in rare cases that they needed to come to us.

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @03:15PM (#44344721)

    The NSA's corrupt and unethical activities have shown a bright light on the blackened and burned out husk of our ethics within the justice system. Which is to say, there really aren't any left to speak of.

    The law has absolutely nothing to do with right or wrong anymore. It's just a prescription for what is allowed and isn't, not whether you should or shouldn't. It's not unlike owning a gun; By itself, it's harmless. Put it someone's hands, and what they do with it can be catastrophic. Laws are just tools. It's what is done with them we need to look at.

    So far, I'm not encouraged by what I am seeing those tools used for. Perhaps its time to take them away, until they can learn to handle them responsibly.

    • by gmuslera (3436) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @03:36PM (#44344855) Homepage Journal
      The problem with that law is it is meant for people, it depend on people to be honest, not wanting extra money, not being able to be blackmailed or social engineered, not falling into common human bias like the ones shown in the Stanford prison experiment [wikipedia.org]. You maybe could manage to find a few people that could cope with that. But if you have up to up to 5 millon people to access that information [salon.com] (including 500k with top secret access that work at for profit contractors), then you are doing the equivalent of giving guns to all prison inmates and setting them free in all the big cities. You know that people will get killed, abused, robbed and so on with that action. So in the actual context, that law is legalized robbery with impunity.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by AK Marc (707885)

        The problem with that law is it is meant for people, it depend on people to be honest, not wanting extra money, not being able to be blackmailed or social engineered, not falling into common human bias like the ones shown in the Stanford prison experiment [wikipedia.org].

        So, assuming humans aren't humans is how laws are meant? I don't agree with that assessment. The "wanting extra money" jab makes you sound like a misanthrope conservative/libertarian complaining about who people on welfare vote for.

        Current laws are bad because they assume complete knowledge of the law (ignorance of the law is no excuse, and all that) but the law is unknowable (it changes faster than people can read, and is based on "case law" that is semi-closed and highly complex. When you commit 3 fel

        • by Rich0 (548339)

          Current laws are bad because they assume complete knowledge of the law (ignorance of the law is no excuse, and all that) but the law is unknowable (it changes faster than people can read, and is based on "case law" that is semi-closed and highly complex. When you commit 3 felonies a day, then why bother trying to follow the law?

          Ironically, the law suffers from the exact opposite problem at the same time - it is possible to have complete knowledge of certain areas of the law and thereby design a set of actions that both complies with the letter of the law and completely subverts its intent. That's why you can have 14 congressional hearings after some big disaster and yet nobody goes to prison.

          For ordinary people the law is a tangled web waiting to snare them. For the spiders crawling around the web, the law is a weapon used to sn

      • by girlintraining (1395911) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @05:21PM (#44345569)

        The problem with that law is it is meant for people, it depend on people to be honest, not wanting extra money, not being able to be blackmailed or social engineered, not falling into common human bias like the ones shown in the Stanford prison experiment.

        If people were honest, not greedy, and incapable of having any vices, and weren't stupid... there'd be no need for laws! The problem isn't the law, it's the people enforcing it. Think about the legal texts of old -- the Magna Carta. The Constitution. Hell, why not even throw in a few holy texts -- the Bible, Koran, etc. My point is a basic code of conduct took one book or less to draw the boundaries for most situations. Now, I don't want to discuss their relative merits, coz that'll take us to nasty flaming troll of doom land, it's just there to illustrate that the legal process doesn't have to be complex to be fairly complete.

        This extra complexity is meant to blunt the minds of its critics and enable people to operate under color of authority to do things that many of us consider unethical or immoral. And that is the problem. The judicial process no longer has any feedback mechanism -- no way of saying "good" or "bad". Laws are written, but rarely repealed. They have no expiration date. So the system grows more and more complex, and people's ethics and morality slowly erode. Slow enough, anyway, that it's not obvious to anyone what's happening... at least until most of it has been lost.

        • by MikeRT (947531) on Monday July 22, 2013 @05:57AM (#44348689) Homepage

          When I read Leviticus and Deuteronomy, what struck me the most about them was how fair they were to the defendant. Modern liberals and even many conservatives roll their eyes and treat the Old Testament Law as barbaric, but in reality it was actually more advanced in protecting the defendant than our system. Nothing equivalent to a felony (that I can remember) in the Old Testament was convictable with less than two credible eye witnesses and the punishment for false testimony was to be punished according to the standard for the charges. That means anyone who bears false witness in a murder case is automatically going to be executed no matter the guilt or innocence of the defendant. The "testilying" cops of today would be mercilessly stoned to death under Old Testament Law and if the defendant could prove that the prosecutor knowingly brought their perjury into the case could possibly get the prosecutor executed as well.

          I'd like to see that standard of perjury brought to our legal system and I'd also like to see the Old Testament's open court proceedings where more than one person can be convicted simultaneously in the same proceeding as well. Cases would take longer, but it would provide a lot of balance. For example, today a defense attorney would be allowed to bring charges against a testilying cop and have the jury consider the perjury charges during their deliberations.

          At one point, I saw a stat saying that there about 600-700 laws in the Old Testament that cover the entire civil-criminal-religious legal life of ancient Israel. There are approximately 4,200 federal criminal acts one can commit. Many of these are not even genuine crimes but charges that can be used to get around the 8th amendment like "possession of a firearm while committing a drug crime." Really. Either you are actually committing a violent felony with said firearm or it's just a way of overcharging someone for a fact that is at best ancillary to the primary criminal act.

      • The founding fathers wrote that they tried to create a system in which greed and other human failings would end up resulting in good. The Consitution is designed that way. The principle is sound, as shown by our economic system. (ppeople are greedy and want "stuff". Society wants work done, investment made, and educated people. Set up system where greed results in investment, education, and hard work.)

        A Constitutional example is balance of power.
        Congress critters are power hungry. So are presidents. So th
  • by TemperedAlchemist (2045966) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @03:23PM (#44344763)

    Most gag order statutes have been voided for being unconstitutional.

    ---

    What the NSA is actually doing is blatantly ignoring our bill of rights. These gag orders are not legal because they are not constitutional, regardless of what the NSA insists.

    I would like them to see them -- and the court officials that go along with their little scheme, pay for their crimes against humanity (and yes, that's what it actually is). Hilarious that this organization has become the very monster it was created to destroy: a terrorist network.

    • by bugnuts (94678) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @03:37PM (#44344863) Journal

      National Security Letters, which are similar, result in a lot of difficulty challenging the gag order without violating the gag order.

      At the eff, they talk about national security letters. [eff.org] They have made some progress in challenging the gag orders, but this is years later. The recipient of this gag order would likely not have even been able to get it into court before they had already removed it 9 months later.

      The OP was served with a FISA warrant, which is apparently more rare and somewhat different. I don't know much about these, but the eff has some info here [eff.org].

      • What happens if one of those letters shows up on Wikileaks and it can't be traced back to the recipient?

    • by Rich0 (548339) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @09:11PM (#44346689) Homepage

      Most gag order statutes have been voided for being unconstitutional.

      Great, so all you have to do is go ahead and violate an order (publishing some single event that on its own is trivial), then watch the powers descend on you, take away all your stuff, and possibly lock you up as well. Then you can begin a 5-10 year court battle to get it all back, facing the risk of a long prison term the entire time. That battle will likely cause you to lose your job and waste away a good portion of your adult life.

      But yes, in the end there is a decent (but far from certain) chance that you will win. If so, you won't even get an apology - they'll just let you return to life with little more than the clothes on your back so that you can start saving what little you can for your retirement.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 21, 2013 @03:24PM (#44344775)

    What if the contract had a clause that said services would be terminated with no notice and no explanation if we receive a lawful warrant to participate in monitoring said customer?

    Sort of canary?

    • by bugnuts (94678) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @03:49PM (#44344957) Journal

      Contracts can't override a lawful order. My thought is that they might try to charge you with something, such as hindering an investigation.

      Maybe have the contract say something like "You will be charged $0.01/month if we are required to install monitoring gear" and have it show up on their bill. :)

      • by icebike (68054) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @04:33PM (#44345277)

        How would terminating a customer account violate a lawful order.

        Fisa order for customer Joe arrives.
        Joe's account immediately terminated.
        Fisa replied to with no such account exists.
        Joe calls up pissed. Receives Reply: read clause 24.65 of your contract.

        • by bloodhawk (813939)
          It would be dicey. In affect you are violating the Gag order by writing a contract clause that gives you an indirect means of notifying the customer or preventing the monitoring. I am no lawyer but that too me sounds like a whole boat load of legal trouble to invite on themselves.
          • by icebike (68054) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @04:57PM (#44345411)

            Since the gag order is unconstitutional in the first place the feds would just let it go rather than risk a loss in court.

            There are already companies that offer cloud storage that has customer side encryption that prevents them from honoring a nsa letter or a search warrant. So writing such a contract is not illegal. See SpiderOak.

            • by tftp (111690) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @06:03PM (#44345829) Homepage

              Those companies are not refusing to cooperate, and they are not circumventing the order. They deliver what they are asked to deliver; too bad that it's zero bits - and here is why...

              But the proposed solution would be an obvious obstruction of justice, and any first minute law student can tell why - because you chose to terminate the service instead of following lawful instructions from the court. Hello, conspiracy charges.

              • by icebike (68054) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @06:13PM (#44345867)

                The founders went further than simply creating a supreme court to decide what the law is. That route was surely open to them. But they chose a different route. Why: Because the people would not accept the Constitution with out it:

                Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

                No possible subsequent law can get around that, and any judge who rules otherwise has violated his oath of office.

                • by tftp (111690)

                  The laws of the USA define many crimes where the offense is just words. For example, talking about a crime that co-conspirators are preparing. If you believe this is against the Constitution and against the will of people, please go ahead and impeach the entire government.

                  • by russotto (537200)

                    The laws of the USA define many crimes where the offense is just words. For example, talking about a crime that co-conspirators are preparing. If you believe this is against the Constitution and against the will of people, please go ahead and impeach the entire government.

                    Believe you me, if I had the power to do that last I'd have done so long ago.

            • by pixelpusher220 (529617) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @06:04PM (#44345833)
              The gag order isn't unconstitutional...yet.

              Unless you're willing to be the guinea pig who runs it through to the SCOTUS, it's perfectly 'legal' until SCOTUS says otherwise.
              • by cdrudge (68377)

                Not to mention that if the FISA court issued an illegal gag order, I'm sure they won't have a problem illegally convicting you of violating said illegal gag order.

              • by 0111 1110 (518466)

                Unless you're willing to be the guinea pig who runs it through to the SCOTUS, it's perfectly 'legal' until SCOTUS says otherwise.

                This was precisely the sort of thing The Founders were afraid of. This is why there is a ninth amendment. I don't know how they could have made it any more clear that this is exactly how they did not want things to work.

      • by AK Marc (707885) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @04:57PM (#44345417)
        That would violate the order as well. I've not got the law committed to memory, but "tipping off" the subject is illegal, no matter how you tip them off. So a billing change would be illegal. Terminating the service on receipt of an order to tap wouldn't tip them off of tapping, but prevent it. That may get you an obstruction charge. Or not. I'm not a lawyer, just an expert in designing and implementing lawful intercept.
      • by sjames (1099)

        The contract wouldn't be overriding the order. The ISP would dutifully provide the required monitor port to the discontinued service. The service having been discontinued in the normal course of fulfilling the signed contract.

    • by auric_dude (610172) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @03:58PM (#44345037)
      Some librarians (Jessamyn West and others) tried this sort of idea in attempts to warn users that FBI were prowling about https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jessamyn_West_(librarian) [wikipedia.org]
    • by silas_moeckel (234313) <silas AT dsminc-corp DOT com> on Sunday July 21, 2013 @04:54PM (#44345403) Homepage

      Basic boiler plate for legit (actual judge, actual crimes etc) warrants have a clause to keep the service active. They pay all expenses and reasonable fee's with a very loose definition of reasonable (billing out a jr techs $35 a hour time as $400 an hour was considered fairly cheap). It can be rather annoying had a dedicated server under scrutiny they had setup encrypted VPS's on the box with a spammer on one VPS that the client refused to turn off. It got bad enough that our up streams were complaining and had to get a letter and a conf call with the FBI case agent to get things settled (they were exploiting a 3 way session, spoofing the outbound packets and relaying the reply packets over a vpn to bypass our outbound spam filtering effectively just using out clean IP's).

      The specifics to this one look OK they had them host a server with a single connection to a span port for the web site in question. They only had access to what the provider sent them and would still have to break through any encryption. I've done similar for warrants on shared servers hundreds of times. Performing some digging related to servicing these I've found child porn etc hiding behind rather boring looking fronts.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mspring (126862)
      I learned recently that this already exists: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warrant_canary [wikipedia.org]
  • by crow (16139) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @03:29PM (#44344797) Homepage Journal

    You may be required to cooperate with their investigation, but space in a data center is not free, and the electricity certainly isn't, either. If they're taking what's yours, they should pay fair market value, and that includes space, power, cooling, and such.

  • by Xicor (2738029) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @03:31PM (#44344821)
    it is about time for companies to start standing against the NSA. as long as what they do keeps being a secret to the population, we will never be able to get a lawsuit in front of the supreme court. companies need to stand up enmasse and say screw the NSA. then, when they start getting sanctions and stuff for standing against the NSA, they start a class action lawsuit against the american government. at this point, they will get infront of the supreme court eventually and we might actually get our rights back.
    • Re:stand up (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jbolden (176878) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @03:40PM (#44344887) Homepage

      That could also be read as a widespread conspiracy involving multiple companies to coordinate to commit felonies. The problem is the American people, have until recently been strongly supportive of this nonsense. The companies can't stand up to it until they know for sure a jury will never convict and they can't know that yet.

      • That could also be read as a widespread conspiracy involving multiple companies to coordinate to commit felonies.

        No.

    • by jklovanc (1603149)

      What would the claims be in the law suit? The NSA has not broken any laws any using FISA warrants. It is the same as POTS companies having to cooperate with wire taps.

  • is that the government is typically their single largest customer. Kind of tough to risk that much revenue.

    Not defending the big providers, but admitting to reality.

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @03:35PM (#44344847)

    So, in TFA he said he was not allowed to make a copy of the order, but just take some notes about it. His attorney said it was legitimate . . . how?

    I mean, you can't take a copy yourself to a secret court to ask them if they authorized it. You could call up a number that they give you, but what does that prove? And the whole damn thing is supposed to be secret, so that nobody knows nothing anyway.

    Does anyone know how this works?

    • Its not legitimate, its merely allowed. Under no interpretation of the Constitution are secret courts allowed.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by cold fjord (826450)

        US Constitution, Article. III. Section. 1.:
        "The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish...."

        Congress established the FISA court by law.

        The FISA court isn't a secret court, it is a court that handles secrets. In either case it looks like Congress can create such courts as it see fit.

        • Once they started issuing broad gag orders and rubber stamping everything with no opposing side representing the People, it became a secret court. You can argue its legal until you are blue in the face, its wrong, and you dont need a law degree to see it.
    • by mosb1000 (710161) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Sunday July 21, 2013 @04:51PM (#44345389)

      Does anyone know how this works?

      You do what they say, or else they come shoot you and plant drugs on your body.

    • Does anyone know how this works?

      Of course not, that's the point.

    • If you don't get a copy what happens when, 5 years later, you get sued for doing an illegal wire tap ? The spooks will deny that they ever asked you to do it and will happily see you carry the can for their actions. I think that it has to be a case of: ''no copy, I can't comply -- take me to court''. Hopefully the court will give him an order that he can keep. I fear that they might just sling him into gitmo on the basis of a secret court order that he never attended the hearing.

  • I don't understand this article clearly. If he's not allowed to refer to it, why is he writing about it now? Did the gag order expire?

    I see from the Guardian article that he ran for Senate in Utah, but lost to Orren Hatch. Too bad.

  • by jbolden (176878) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @03:37PM (#44344865) Homepage

    He is absolutely right that we shouldn't have secret courts issuing secret laws. Temporary gag orders are fine but they should expire rapidly and then what happened be subject to public scrutiny. Faretta v. California talked about how many of our laws for trial procedure and rights in the constitution evolved from a reaction against the Star Chamber. The core idea of the Star Chamber was secrecy to deal with defendants who were too powerful to be tried openly for fear the the realm could not control the impact, and we have decided to replicate this in full.

  • Intelligence (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jklovanc (1603149) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @04:35PM (#44345299)

    There is absolutely [a] need for secrecy when you are dealing with a criminal investigation. You don’t want to tip off criminals being monitored. But you can’t say, “You can never talk about this ever, for the rest of your life.”

    The criminals may never know exactly how they were caught. Some of the tapped information may come out but the authorities may have enough other evidence derived from this tap not to reveal all their methods. The better criminals know how they are being monitored the better the criminals can avoid the monitoring.

    As to being a benign web site, the actual site may have noting to do with the criminal activity. It may just be a transit point for communications between criminals and the authorities are after those communications.

    As for the tap being on 9 months; there are criminal investigations that take years to gather enough information on enough people to take down an organization.

    As for the Bill of Rights and the Fourth Amendment in particular;

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    By law A FISA warrant is a warrant and therefore the Amendment has not been violated. How exactly is the Fourth Amendment violated?

    The FISA court should be a public court, and documents should be sealed for a set period of time, [to] let people audit the actions later.

    I disagree. When one make public who and how someone else it being watched it it makes the suspects more difficult yo watch in the future. Maybe this investigation didn't gather enough for a conviction but the next one might. I may agree if the set period was 30 years or so but that is not what you seem to be talking about.

    • Re:Intelligence (Score:4, Informative)

      by spire3661 (1038968) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @04:53PM (#44345399) Journal
      FISA court is incompatible with the Constitution. You CANNOT have secret courts in a democracy, it must and will end.
    • by Arker (91948)

      The fourth amendment has specific requirements (probable cause, specificity about exactly what is to be searched) that the FISA 'warrants' dont typically appear to meet. The fourth amendment was written specifically to prohibit overbroad warrants - it ties the probable cause directly to a specification of what is to be seized, so that only things actually covered by the probable cause can be taken. That is fundamentally incompatible with the goverments 'grab everything' approach.

      The bigger violation in rela

  • by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Sunday July 21, 2013 @04:42PM (#44345339) Journal

    Say whatever you want to say, and demand a jury trial if they want to punish you for it. The great lesson of the fall of the Soviet Empire is that the people outnumber the thugs, and the thugs' power depends entirely on the people's obedience.

    -jcr

    • by dryeo (100693)

      The great lesson about the fall of the Soviet Union is that the thugs will regain power over the people. Actually that was also the lesson of the Russian Revolution over the thuggish aristocracy and Czar.

  • I recognized them because I use them for my cygwin distribution mirror.

  • by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Sunday July 21, 2013 @05:29PM (#44345627) Journal

    If we had a functioning justice system in this country, and a population fully aware of and prepared to defend our rights, this kind of thing would go like this:

    "Hello, 911 emergency. What is your emergency?"

    "Hi, I've just made a citizen's arrest. The perp came in here posing as a federal officer, but he couldn't even recite the oath when he was looking down the barrels of my shotgun." I disarmed him and hog-tied him. The press is on the way, could you send a deputy over here to pick him up, or should I bring him in to the jail?"

    -jcr

  • by PPH (736903) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @07:27PM (#44346239)

    Hello, NSA?

    Remember that box we put in our server room for you a couple of weeks back? Well last night, four heavily armed masked men broke into our facility and held our techs at gunpoint while they removed your box. When they left, all we heard was the sound of their helicopter. It was night, so we didn't see anything. I think they had Russian accents.

    We would have filed a police report, except we are not supposed to discuss the details of you activities with anyone.

  • by Bartles (1198017) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @10:28PM (#44347083)
    ...see a possible 3rd Amendment issue with this? Can the Federal Government force you to quarter a digital proxy of a federal agent? Too big a stretch?
  • by slasher999 (513533) on Sunday July 21, 2013 @10:37PM (#44347147)

    The subject of my comment is a direct quote from the website. I'm curious as to why the author believes a "guns and ammo" website would warrant this type of surveillance. It seems everywhere you look these days the left is looking to encroach on our rights as American citizens (the provider is based in Utah). The irony here is that the main point of the article seems to be that this type of surveillance is an invasion of someone's privacy and at least an inconvenience to the provider.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eT2fQu50sMs [youtube.com]
    http://events.ccc.de/congress/2010/Fahrplan/events/4263.en.html [events.ccc.de]

    The importance of resisting Excessive Government Surveillance [27C3]

    About "National Security Letters".

  • by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Monday July 22, 2013 @07:35AM (#44349115) Homepage

    The idea of explicitly stating that you aren't under a gag order has been addressed a few times, and I'm not sure it works - can you really not be forced to explicitly keep lying about it? After all, you'd have to lie in response to a direct question as well. Otherwise you could just tell your customers to regularly ask you about gag orders.

    However, consider this: If you are not under a gag order, then it is not illegal to lie and say you are. (Except under oath.) Yet if you are under a gag order, saying you are would be illegal.
    Thus, if you publically and untruthfully state (in messages or on your website) that you are under a gag order, then an actual gag order would force you to remove that statement. That removal then becomes the warning.

    The gag order couldn't reasonably force you to tell people about it and not tell people about it.

There must be more to life than having everything. -- Maurice Sendak

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