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Facebook Government Privacy

Facebook Patented Making NSA Data Handoffs Easier 137

Posted by Soulskill
from the can-make-a-fortune-on-the-infringement-suits dept.
theodp writes "In June, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg blasted 'outrageous press reports' about the PRISM surveillance program, denying that Facebook was ever 'part of any program to give the U.S. or any other government direct access to our servers.' What Zuckerberg didn't mention, and what the press overlooked, is that the USPTO granted Facebook a patent in May for its Automated Writ Response System. Like the NSA-enabling systems described by the NY Times on the same day Zuckerberg cried foul, the patent covers technical methods to more efficiently share the personal data of users with law enforcement agencies (LEAs) in response to lawful government requests via APIs and secured portals installed at company-controlled locations. 'While handing over data in response to a legitimate FISA request is a legal requirement,' the Times noted, 'making it easier for the government to get the information is not, which is why Twitter could decline to do so.'"
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Facebook Patented Making NSA Data Handoffs Easier

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  • What an asshole (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Enter the Shoggoth (1362079) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @06:14AM (#45410855)

    'nuf said

    • ... and I am glad I never waste any of my time in fb

      • by Enter the Shoggoth (1362079) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @06:22AM (#45410885)

        ... and I am glad I never waste any of my time in fb

        Indeed - the ony thing more amazing than people putting personal shit up on a public website is people putting personal shit up on a public website that's owned and run by a known sociopath.

      • by Mitreya (579078) <mitreya@gmail . c om> on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @06:29AM (#45410903)

        ... and I am glad I never waste any of my time in fb

        Don't worry -- at least half a dozen of your friends are working hard to make sure you are not forgotten (posting and tagging fotos, marking "I know this person from..." questions, etc.)

        • Don't worry -- at least half a dozen of your friends are working hard to make sure you are not forgotten (posting and tagging fotos, marking "I know this person from..." questions, etc.)

          Solution : don't have friend ;).

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @06:49AM (#45410983)

        Yeah. Before this, no one knew that Mark Zuckerberg was a liar and not to be trusted. I'm sure glad this happened so we could finally see him for what he really is.

        • by formfeed (703859)

          Yeah. Before this, no one knew that Mark Zuckerberg was a liar and not to be trusted. I'm sure glad this happened so we could finally see him for what he really is.

          Yep. How more obvious can you make it?
          To answer my own rhetorical question: He could get a nice white Siamese cat and stroke it while giving interviews.

      • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @07:08AM (#45411047)

        At least now we know the real Mark Zuckerberg ...

        We've known the real him for a while now:

        Zuck: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard

        Zuck: Just ask.

        Zuck: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS

        [Redacted Friend's Name]: What? How'd you manage that one?

        Zuck: People just submitted it.

        Zuck: I don't know why.

        Zuck: They "trust me"

        Zuck: Dumb fucks.

        http://www.businessinsider.com/well-these-new-zuckerberg-ims-wont-help-facebooks-privacy-problems-2010-5

      • ... and I am glad I never waste any of my time in fb

        It doesn't matter. Whatever alternate channel you are using to communicate electronically with friends and family in lieu of Facebook (e-mail, telephone calls, XMPP...), the NSA is vacuuming up that information too. (Sure, for a handful of tech savvy friends you can convince them to use PGP, but that probably flags you as more suspicious, and only the message content is hidden, not who is writing to who.)

    • Can't you see he's fighting for our freedoms? That patent is just the start, there are plenty more in the works. Eventually, they'll cover every way of handing the government information, and no one else will be able to do it. It's genius.

      • by gbjbaanb (229885)

        I think you're being too lenient toward him..
        in the future, everyone will still have to hand the government information, only now Fuckerberg will demand a licence payment each time.

    • nah, this is great - patent all the methods for complying with illegal NSA spying to make sure that other companies can't do the same. It's an effective attack limiter to only one company per valid attack.

      I'm pretending the NSA won't illegally coerce the companies into illegally violating the patents for the illegal surveillance they're coercing the companies into doing. Oh, sorry, that's the FBI, isn't it?

    • Re:What an asshole (Score:5, Insightful)

      by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh@gmail.cCOBOLom minus language> on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @08:46AM (#45411469) Journal

      Let's not forget, this is the same guy who signed up for Google+ the day it launched and then closed his account because he "didn't want Google tracking him" or something like that.

      He mocks the stupidity of the Average Joe right in front of their faces and they never catch on.

      • by neoform (551705)

        >He mocks the stupidity of the Average Joe right in front of their faces and they never catch on.

        You realize this supports his claim.

    • by formfeed (703859)
      Like
  • by Cornwallis (1188489) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @06:17AM (#45410865)

    to avoid F***book.

    • by clickety6 (141178)

      to avoid F***book.

      FISABook?

    • by cffrost (885375)

      to avoid F***book.

      I haven't heard that one... Farcebook, Facecrook... Fuck(erberg's)book, obfuscated with self-censorship?

      Mark Fuckerberg's scheme is to collect billions of dollars worth of marks' PII, then pimp it all out to his customers (NSA, FBI, FSB, corporate propagandists, your worst enemy, etc.). The mark's cut of the money made from selling his or her PII amounts to some zero dollars and cents per year, plus inundation with targeted corporate propaganda meant to manipulate the mark's decisions/habits/behaviors, and

      • by KiloByte (825081)

        I for one resolve the "***" to "aeces". Which is still an insult to honest fertilizer.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @06:18AM (#45410871)

    legitimate FISA request

    By their very nature they fail to be legitimate in my eyes.

    • by mrbester (200927)

      There's also an interesting meaning of the word 'legal' of which I was previously unaware as being remotely legitimate.

  • Ok this just in (Score:5, Informative)

    by Nov8tr (2007392) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @06:30AM (#45410909) Homepage
    If Mark Zuckerberg isn't Satan, he is at least a close relative.
    • by mrbester (200927)

      He's the bastard son. As if Satan has any other kind.

    • by Kiuas (1084567)

      Satan? Seriously?

      You equate the one character from the Bibble that had the balls to stand up against the divine tyranny to this Mark Zuckerberg? That's offensive to Satan.

      In all seriousness, as an atheist I don't much care about the feelings of imaginary beings, but looking at the bibble as a story and comparing the characters, there is 1 divine "big brother", who watches everything you do and one guy who tells you to oppose such foolishness.

      To quote great speech by Al Pacino ('John Milton'), whose in fact

      • by Nov8tr (2007392)
        You're preachin to the choir. :D My point had nothing to do with "reality" and everything to do with humor. :D
  • by korbulon (2792438) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @06:31AM (#45410915)

    As go the teenagers, so goes the industry.

    http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/nov/10/teenagers-messenger-apps-facebook-exodus [theguardian.com]

    With all this social networking shit, perception is key: once FB is no longer consider cool or the "in-thing", it's fucked. Like Myspace fucked.

    • by rvw (755107)

      As go the teenagers, so goes the industry.

      http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/nov/10/teenagers-messenger-apps-facebook-exodus [theguardian.com]

      With all this social networking shit, perception is key: once FB is no longer consider cool or the "in-thing", it's fucked. Like Myspace fucked.

      Unless the "old" people (30-50) really don't care about what those kids do, as long as they have a means of keeping in touch with the rest of the family. And if they do, the kids will complain, but will stay as well, although not as active.

      • by peragrin (659227)

        the trick is only active accounts generate ad revenue. without people Facebook has nothing to sell(you) to its customers(ad companies)

      • by korbulon (2792438)

        The problem that Facebook faces is that much of its current stock price critically hinges on the belief that it is a "growth" stock. Look at some of the numbers ( http://www.thestreet.com/story/12043406/1/the-beginning-of-the-end-for-facebook.html [thestreet.com] ):

        The stock is ridiculously priced at 208 times trailing earnings, 48 times 2014 consensus earnings estimates, more than 10 times book value, and 18 times revenue.

        Once investors realize that FB is no longer growing - especially that young eyeballs and thumbs have moved elsewhere - they will also realize that it will never live up to its (admittedly unrealistic) future earnings estimates. At which point the stock price

    • The Facebook Messenger app is much better than WhatsApp IMO.. it allows you to continue conversations uninterrupted either on your PC or mobile, plus it's free. Not sure why people get so interested in it. One person I knew said her phone had "free international texts" - which sounded like a pretty awesome deal - but then I found out she just meant using WhatsApp. Wtf?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Maybe they patented it so that nobody would use it?

    • by Taco Cowboy (5327)

      Maybe they patented it so that nobody would use it?

      They patented it to EXTORT MONEY FROM OTHERS !!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @06:34AM (#45410929)

    If it's automated, it means there's no way a person checked the warrant before giving access.

    So whether its legal or not is moot, since Facebook are *trusting* the LEA's claim that its legal, regardless of whether it actually is.

    I wonder if Microsoft provides a backdoor portal to Windows PCs? I bet they get far more demands, and they probably would automate it too. I know that telephone companies made telephone tapping automated. A law enforcement officer simply taps something on a screen and can tap any US phone from his desk anywhere in the country. That has the same problem, nobody checks that the court issued warrants limits are complied with, because nobody ever reads it.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      If it's automated, it means there's no way a person checked the warrant before giving access.

      Rather large assumption there, but I'll go with it, given the history.

      So whether its legal or not is moot, since Facebook are *trusting* the LEA's claim that its legal, regardless of whether it actually is.

      Facebook is in no position to determine what is legal or not, unless they want to present an expert on Constitutional law. Zuckerberg is far from that, so don't even know why anyone asked the puppet-in-charge.

      I wonder if Microsoft provides a backdoor portal to Windows PCs? I bet they get far more demands, and they probably would automate it too.

      Uh, probably? They "probably" had to automate it, or budget for an additional 20 personnel to handle the requests.

      I know that telephone companies made telephone tapping automated. A law enforcement officer simply taps something on a screen and can tap any US phone from his desk anywhere in the country. That has the same problem, nobody checks that the court issued warrants limits are complied with, because nobody ever reads it.

      Nobody ever reads it because it's not their responsibility to.

      Yes, you heard that right. Consider if you were to be

    • Or more likely, the warrant is checked ..... against a list of "superwarrants" that were fought in the FISA court and lost. Any API request that cites that warrant has to be processed so automating it, though it looks bad, doesn't really change anything.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Facebook is evil.

    • I think all global social networks are evil because they give the information to the selected few. So much of the sensitive information in the hands of the selected few is risky and can give a lot of trouble, maybe even tragedies up to the end of the civilization.
  • Misleading title (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Zouden (232738) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @06:53AM (#45410999)

    Cooperating with the NSA to give unrestricted access to private data (aka PRISM) is completely different to complying with subpoenas. Facebook got a patent on the latter, but not the former as the headline suggests.

    If you have a problem with FB giving over your data in response to legal requests then take it up with the agencies making the requests, because Facebook don't get a choice in the matter.

    • by oodaloop (1229816)
      My thoughts exactly. NSA is not a law enforcement agency, and PRISM has nothing to do with requesting data on individual users.
    • by Sockatume (732728) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @07:20AM (#45411117)

      If Facebook is getting so many writs for personal data that it has to automate the process, and the senders are creating so many that they need access via an API so they can send them programatically, I don't think you're talking about subpoenas in any more than the strictest technical sense.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by catfood (40112)
        It's like those robo-signed foreclosures: the whole purpose of having a legal instrument is for some individual person to be responsible for saying essentially, "Yup, I checked this all out and it's legit." If you're processing these subpoenae automatically, and the input is overzealous or just wrong, then what?
      • I found this "Oversight Kourt Coordinated Automated Response Daemon" (OK_CARD.asp) and when I poked it with a query, all it sent back was; "In answer to your query YES. And we've also Friended you."

    • by Pieroxy (222434)

      If the system is automated, how does the FB API knows there's a valid subpoena behind the request?

  • by Chrisq (894406) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @06:56AM (#45411009)
    Yes, we'd love to be more cooperative, but I'm afraid that we don't have the patent rights ....
  • by GuB-42 (2483988) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @06:58AM (#45411011)

    Hey, Facebook, make sure that no one else can use these techniques. That's your duty as a patent holder.

    • Hey, Facebook, make sure that no one else can use these techniques. That's your duty as a patent holder.

      Excuse me, but where have you put your brain ?

      Just in case you've missed it, please allow me to re-post the first sentence of TFA ...

      "In June, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg blasted 'outrageous press reports' about the PRISM surveillance program ....

    • Well, that's wrong. You see, the Government reserves the right to option any patent for their use.

      They wouldn't get to prevent anyone from using the patent even if they wanted to. Instead, when the NSA compels other companies to infringe related patent, Facebook gets to charge the zuckers license fees.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Sorry Facebook, I have prior art on the "automated writ response system", which I wrote 30 years ago:

    10 PRINT "Fuck off"
    20 GOTO 10

  • Zuck: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard
    Zuck: Just ask.
    Zuck: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS

    [Redacted Friend's Name]: What? How'd you manage that one?
    Zuck: People just submitted it.
    Zuck: I don't know why.
    Zuck: They "trust me"
    Zuck: Dumb fucks.

    TFA is just evidence of SNAFU: Situation Normal, All Fucked Up.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    That's not very surprising, Facebook's strong ties to the CIA are well-known. In its early days companies very close to the CIA invested heavily into Facebook and some people likewise close to teh CIA are - or at least were, last time I looked - on Facebook's board of directors.

  • I’m serious. This prevents other companies from making it easy on the NSA. Facebook will never make any royalties from it, and they’ll likely never implement the whole system. I love it. It’s like the GPL: Using one kind of law (IP) against another.

  • by Jaysyn (203771) <jaysyn+slashdot@noSpAm.gmail.com> on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @08:28AM (#45411391) Homepage Journal

    Zuckerberg is a lying piece of shit, news at 11.

  • making it easier for the government to get the information is not

    If you have no choice but to hand over the data, wouldn't it make more sense to automate the process and save your own people some time and frustration?

  • Facebook has made it easier. I hope they made the patent broad. Of course we don't want to end up in lawsuits, so we cannot use any of the technology - right? So in effect the rest of us has to make it harder!

  • Google told the same 'they don't have direct access to our servers' lie, come on people let's start seeing some vulgar rants directed at the "Do No Evil" gang. To be fair it isn't a lie, they didn't have direct access. Instead Google/FB just set it up so they could get anything they wanted without having 'direct' access.
  • In the surprisingly fierce competition for stupid patents, this one has a leg up on other candidates:

    The patent has costs for filing and much larger but nebulous costs for customer relations.

    The patent cannot be expected to bring in any revenue. Other who might licence the patent have no incentive to do so since they can bill the NSA for compliance costs. The NSA could direct these others to use the patent, which as an entity of the USGovt it can use royalty-free and so to subcontractors.

    Many patents are

    • Agreed, I don't understand the point of this patent at all. What are they going to do, sue any other company that tries to streamline interactions with law enforcement? Yeah, there's a winning business model. Still, the thought that this could actually happen makes for some potentially amusing possible scenarios. Just imagine the headlines:

      "FB claims ownership of software facilitating NSA spying, seeks injunction on all non-FB wiretaps!

  • ... is to extent FB's interface for law enforcement agencies to reply to all requests with a string "Guru Meditation" and a randomly generated number appended.

  • This looks like any standard user interface to a database and basic computer architecture. I suspect the devil is in the details as to what kind of data blobs are defined in a "request" and what data blobs get returned to a user. As far as I can tell, this patent covers all data blob implementations. How can this be a patent?
  • Nice company you've got there -- it'd be a shame if something were to happen to it.


    And it even fits in 140 chars!
  • Hi, this is Jay Nancarrow from Facebook. The described patent was part of our efforts to build out a formal process to manage the various requests we receive. These systems enable us to carefully scrutinize each request manually, and help us push back on many of them if they're too broad, vague, or don't meet a very high legal bar. I should also add that this process has nothing to do with recent reports about activity from the NSA.
  • If you've never used Facebook, don't start.
    If you're using Facebook, stop it.
    If you have friends that use Facebook, tell them to stop.

    Don't worry about deleting stuff, the odds that deletes are actually not soft-deletes are probably nil.

    Just quit it.

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