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Cellphones Government Handhelds Privacy United States

NSA Tracking Cellphone Locations Worldwide 256

Posted by timothy
from the relax-citizens-we're-only-watching-you-closely dept.
tramp writes "The National Security Agency is gathering nearly 5 billion records a day on the whereabouts of cellphones around the world, according to top-secret documents and interviews with U.S. intelligence officials, enabling the agency to track the movements of individuals — and map their relationships — in ways that would have been previously unimaginable. Of course it is 'only metadata' and absolutely not invading privacy if you ask our 'beloved' NSA." Pretty soon, the argument about whether you have in any given facet of your life a "reasonable expectation of privacy" may take on a whole new meaning. Also at Slash BI.
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NSA Tracking Cellphone Locations Worldwide

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  • by SecurityGuy (217807) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @10:38AM (#45607453)

    Pretty soon, the argument about whether you have in any given facet of your life a "reasonable expectation of privacy" may take on a whole new meaning.

    No, it absolutely will not. People need to get through their heads that just because your rights are violated, that doesn't mean expecting them not to be becomes unreasonable. If someone breaks into your house every day, it doesn't become "reasonable" for them to do so, or unreasonable for you to expect people to stay out of your house.

    The logic espoused by the quoted idea is the same as saying if police were to start strip searching everyone without cause, it would be reasonable simply because it always happens.

    Stop that.

  • Fuck You, USA (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 05, 2013 @10:39AM (#45607459)

    What else is there to say.

  • Blame the Victims (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 05, 2013 @10:45AM (#45607511)

    I'm not saying its ok, but what did people think was going to happen when they started carrying around devices that store and report their physical position every few minutes. Somebody is getting that data. If its not the NSA, then its a phone company or an advertising company or police officers or etc...

  • by Chris Mattern (191822) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @10:46AM (#45607527)

    The logic espoused by the quoted idea is the same as saying if police were to start strip searching everyone without cause, it would be reasonable simply because it always happens.

    Yes, it is. Gone through an airport lately?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 05, 2013 @10:47AM (#45607553)

    Precedent is a bigger component of the law than logic is.

    Don't mistake the way you'd like things to work from the way they actually work.

  • Metadata (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rotten (8785) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @10:48AM (#45607567) Journal

    Depends on how you define metadata. Nowadays the line between privacy, metadata and your last name, habits, shopping, etc seems to be a single "SELECT" line involving one or two tables.

    The information is obviously a valuable law enforcement tool. Just like phone records, like wiretapping (under a judge auth.).
    At least my perception, way before snowden and all the latest leaks, was that this was actually happening. This is just a confirmation.

    Would be great if, as in wiretapping, this would be supervised by justice, and used only in criminal investigations. Sound naive ...i know

  • Re:Love this quote (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SJHillman (1966756) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @10:51AM (#45607609)

    Possible meanings of that quote:
    1 - We're collecting it unintentionally
    2 - We're collecting it without authority
    3 - We're not doing it in bulk, each one is individually collected
    4 - We're not doing it in the US, only everywhere else
    5 - We're collecting information, just not location information
    6 - We're using subcontractors that are not part of the "intelligence community"
    7 - We're considering the entity doing it something other than an "element"
    8 - We're collecting it from devices other than cellphones
    9 - We're collecting location information about people, not about cellphones
    10 - I am the very model of a modern major-general.

  • NSA spin (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 05, 2013 @10:53AM (#45607631)

    Interesting spin

    "One senior collection manager, speaking on the condition of anonymity but with permission from the NSA, said “we are getting vast volumes” of location data from around the world by tapping into the cables that connect mobile networks globally and that serve U.S. cellphones as well as foreign ones. Additionally, data are often collected from the tens of millions of Americans who travel abroad with their cellphones every year."

    You are supposed to infer from that, that only Americans who travel abroad with their cellphones are the ones tracked. When it's not, it's Americans at home too, the tower ids are in the metadata he's already admitted they collect.

    “there is no element of the intelligence community that under any authority is intentionally collecting bulk cellphone location information about cellphones in the United States.”

    Police Officer : "Did you murder that woman?"
    Knife carrying suspect, caught as scene of crime, covered in victims blood: "I had no authority to intentionally kill that woman"

  • by lagomorpha2 (1376475) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @10:55AM (#45607655)

    Don't underestimate how readily willing humans are to adapt. There are places in the world where having your house broken into every day has nearly become the norm and people have decided to adapt to the new situation instead of fighting it.

    If you want to fight something like this you have to do it before it becomes the accepted norm.

  • Re:Metadata (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @10:57AM (#45607679) Journal

    (Warrantless) Metadata: That info with which the King of England would have rounded up the Founding Fathers, and thus they would have considered it part of search and sezure protections.

    This "it's just metadata" is a fraud.

  • Re:No surprise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @11:08AM (#45607761) Homepage

    They just didn't mention that they also log all the metadata of "all foreign countries", because per definition all they are doing are 'foreign calls'.

    And if any foreign government was doing this to America it would be deemed an act of war.

    So at some point, you more or less have to expect the rest of the world to start yelling really loudly to their leaders that they're not willing to put up with this any more.

    I would like to think some countries will grow some balls and start saying "you know that navy base, you have to leave now".

    If this was Russia or China, America would be indignant. Since it's America, Americans treats it like it's their right. The rest of us don't agree and have no desire to be beholden to your security interests. Because we don't see that your rights supersede ours.

  • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {hmryobemag}> on Thursday December 05, 2013 @11:11AM (#45607789) Journal

    Because Dancing with the Stars is on and it's that nasty Obamacare that's the real threat to freedom!!!

  • Re:Love this quote (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dr Caleb (121505) <thedarkknight AT hushmail DOT com> on Thursday December 05, 2013 @11:17AM (#45607873) Homepage Journal
    If you consider the recent stories that a A woman was denied entry to the US [slashdot.org] based on confidential medical records that the US shouldn't have had; and recent revelations that '5-Eye' countries give information on their citizens to other 5-Eye countries [theguardian.com] to get around local privacy laws:

    You could infer

    11 - The NSA didn't have to collect the data at all because Telecom companies gave them the data "freely".

  • by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @11:17AM (#45607877) Homepage

    The numbers indicate a high approval of all this.

    Or a lack of understanding. Or a lack of options in who else to vote for. Or a stunning indifference that as long as you feel safe you don't care about everyone else. Or a sense of entitlement. Or extreme hypocrisy about freedom.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 05, 2013 @11:18AM (#45607881)

    Neither mistake unilateral actions of the executive for actions taken with permission of the judiciary.

    Precedent applies to the judiciary. They do not take the fact "we are already doing this" as a legal precedent.

    And how do you think precedents get set, exactly? The judiciary takes a logical view and makes a logical decision. Precedent merely means not having to do that every single time afterwards.

  • Re:^ mod up (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NatasRevol (731260) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @11:21AM (#45607909) Journal

    With all this 'fear', the terrorists have already won. Rhetoric or not.

  • Re:Fuck You, USA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @11:22AM (#45607921)

    That's how erosion of freedom works. At first, you pride yourself with being "free" while looking down at others who are not. Then you're happy that you're "free-er" than the other one. And in the end, all that's left is being happy that they're even worse off.

  • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @12:03PM (#45608385)

    hmm, a government that has stopped representing the will of the people and does all it can to continue along its self-protectionist ways, stepping on any chances of change.

    sound like anything you've studied in history, before?

    we're watching history in the making right now even though many of us don't realize it.

  • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @12:07PM (#45608439)

    its only the faux news crowd that has been spoon-fed the bullshit that snowden is a traitor or bad guy. those idiots believe anything they are told if its given the right angle that appeals to core fears and 'warm fuzzies' in that demographic.

    the rest of us fully realize that snowden was this centuries highest hero in the right for freedom. worldwide freedom; which has - to my knowledge - NEVER been fought for before (its always been about 'my country vs yours' but now the whole world realizes we are all being taken advantage of, as whole, regardless of borders!

    this fight for freedom IS world-wide, make no mistake. pretty much every other country holds snowden in high esteem (the people, that is; their leaders are all on the wrong path but that's a given in today's corrupt world, sad to say).

  • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @12:13PM (#45608503)

    then use your powers as a citizen to advance policy that would be different

    may I remind you that fixing the government, way back then, was possible by regular people. the gov didn't control nukes and stuff, back then.

    now, the armed forces and the local police (no diff anymore, sigh) will do all they can to 'follow orders' and won't let an uprising happen. each time we've tried, lately, the news media (owned by the government, for all practical purposes, even though not directly or literally) refuses to cover the events or makes the protesters look like 'bad guys' and they laugh it off. then they go to commercial.

    you have the nsa keeping tabs on everyone and so you can't even gather in groups in private without them knowing (take your phone batteries out; if you even can, anymore). clear your gps in your car (oh right, you can't clear the obd2 blackbox that is mandated in every new car these days).

    every thing that we could use to regain control has been thought of and 'worked around' by our oh-so-wonderful government. they realize that we are Pissed Off and they will do all they can to stop any revolt or even simple protest.

    I don't see any peaceful solution and I shudder to think of the alternative.

    I do fear that my memories of what was a free country will be all that's left for the next 1 or even TWO generations.

  • Re:^ mod up (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NatasRevol (731260) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @12:16PM (#45608537) Journal

    How is that different?

  • by smooth wombat (796938) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @12:33PM (#45608713) Homepage Journal
    I don't understand why the lunatic fringe of Slashdot treats this short procedure as some unconscionable violation of basic human rights.

    It has nothing to do with a lunatic fringe. It has to do with not being treated like a criminal by default, which is what the TSA does. You are a criminal, plain and simple, unless you can prove otherwise.

    That mantra is the complete opposite of presumed innocent until proven guilty. If you feel like being treated as a criminal is acceptable, then there is no hope for democracy.
  • by Chris Mattern (191822) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @01:15PM (#45609207)

    its only the faux news crowd that has been spoon-fed the bullshit that snowden is a traitor or bad guy.

    Wow, I never knew Nancy Pelosi was one of "the faux news crowd".

    "I think on three scores -- that is leaking the Patriot Act section 215, FISA 702, and the president's classified cyber operations's directive -- on the strength of leaking that, yes, that would be a prosecutable offense," Pelosi told reporters at her Capitol Hill news briefing. "I think that he should be prosecuted."

    You can't assign this to conservatives. You can find plenty of conservatives that think Snowden is a hero--and plenty of liberals who say Snowden's a criminal and think the NSA should be give free rein to "protect" us.

  • by Kilo Kilo (2837521) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @01:22PM (#45609271)

    its only the faux news crowd

    You mean like the President? I don't think he watches a lot of Fox.

  • by PeeAitchPee (712652) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @01:22PM (#45609273)

    Bullshit. The leftist "big gov't is always right" crowd wants to nail him just as much. How dare he have the audacity to paint the result of the granting of unchecked Federal power in a negative light to the serfs?

    This is NOT a left- or right-wing issue. Both parties gleefully hate your freedoms and civil liberties and take turns shitting on the Constitution while playing people against one another with wedge issues like abortion, gay rights, and illegal immigration. And people like you who put the blame on one side but not the other are part of the problem.

  • by TheNastyInThePasty (2382648) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @01:33PM (#45609445)

    **WARNING: SLIPPERY SLOPE DETECTOR ACTIVATED**
    "No one forced you to use the train/subway/bus so of course they should be able to search you" (Already happening)
    "No one forced you to drive on public roads so of course they should be able to search you" (They are working on deploying scanner tech for the roadside right now)
    "No one forced you to use public sidewalks so of course they should be able to search you"

    Uh. I guess I'll stay in my house?

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