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NSA Can Retrieve, Replay All Phone Calls From a Country From the Past 30 Days 320

Posted by Soulskill
from the can-you-hear-me-now? dept.
An anonymous reader sends this news from the Washington Post: "The National Security Agency has built a surveillance system capable of recording '100 percent' of a foreign country's telephone calls, enabling the agency to rewind and review conversations as long as a month after they take place, according to people with direct knowledge of the effort and documents supplied by former contractor Edward Snowden. ... The voice interception program, called MYSTIC, began in 2009. Its RETRO tool, short for “retrospective retrieval,” and related projects reached full capacity against the first target nation in 2011. Planning documents two years later anticipated similar operations elsewhere."
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NSA Can Retrieve, Replay All Phone Calls From a Country From the Past 30 Days

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  • How? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bradmont (513167) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @04:16PM (#46519577)
    So do they have the cooperation of the target country? Or have the infiltrated the entire communications infrastructure of the world? This is really creepy.
    • Re:How? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @04:25PM (#46519651) Homepage

      Co-operation? I highly, highly doubt that.

      I can see only two possibilities for how the NSA could collect every single phone call of an entire country, such that the Washington Post would agree not to publish the name of the country. One is that it's something like North Korea where the infrastructure is really weak and there might conceivably be only a handful of points where all telephone calls pass through. If a covert team on the ground were able to splice those fibres, or hack the telephone equipment remotely, and somehow duplicate the internal traffic onto fibres heading out of the country , I can see they could be intercepted at that point.

      The other possibility is that it's a small country that's supposed to be "allied" (Washington does not really have allies), like Belgium, seat of the EU. We know that GCHQ hacked Belgacom pretty badly. Undoubtably the NSA has done the same with other telcos. In this case, the WashPo agrees not to disclose it to avoid causing even more severe diplomatic fallout (though this was apparently not a concern so far). For a small but modern country it's quite feasible to imagine hacked telephone equipment simply sending all phone call data out over the internet or a fibre that's meant to be dark without anyone actually noticing, as phone calls are relatively low bandwidth.

      Regardless, this is pretty amazing. Every time I think these fuckers can't get any creepier, they do. First OPTIC NERVE and now this.

      These stories always leave me depressed. It's clear nothing is going to happen, the politicians all seem to be creaming themselves over these powers and can't wait to legalise it all ... then they can conveniently go after anyone who is breaking their collection with crypto.

      • Re:How? (Score:4, Informative)

        by amorsen (7485) <benny+slashdot@amorsen.dk> on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @04:33PM (#46519701)

        the infrastructure is really weak and there might conceivably be only a handful of points where all telephone calls pass through.

        The opposite is happening. Denmark had PSTN switches in hundreds or thousands of locations for PSTN. The switches for the cell phone network that handles most of the calls on the other hand are in just a few locations per operator. Today it is easy to do the call handling of hundreds of thousands of simultaneous calls in a single location.

        You can still route the voice data directly from cell tower to cell tower, at least with some technologies, but the benefits of doing so are not great anymore.

      • Re:How? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MrBigInThePants (624986) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @04:54PM (#46519825)
        You are not depressed enough. ;)

        What is far more scary is the trajectory of all of this - they are light years ahead of where we thought they were in the inevitable decent into a police state.
        If you had made such claims about the NSA a few years ago on slashdot you would have been ridiculed and marked a troll. It would have been unbelievable to most.
        (NB: I am NOT saying this justifies making unsubstantiated claims about the future though)

        But where will they be in 5-10 years when they are better at hiding their activities? I am not saying I know and I am not a conspiracy theorist but to be honest whatever it is it looks pretty grim.

        We now also know that one of the NSA's primary functions is squashing political dissent and corporate espionage so this is not limited to terrorists etc.

        We already knew that the US engaged in this (assuredly with the help of the NSA) and more:
          - Manipulations in places such as South America resulting in countless deaths.
          - Presidential writs for assassination
          - Lying about WMD in Iraq
          - Drone attacks on civilians
          - State authorised torture
          - Mass surveillance
          - etc etc
        And this is just what we know to be true...

        So what is even scarier still is that this is paralleled by the advance of drones and robotics. They just took the governors off R&D on weaponised robots. This includes law enforcement application such as for riots.

        Looking at all this and the complete lack of traction in undoing or slowing down any of it where do you think this is all going? No place good.

        NB: This looks like I am very anti american. I am not. I am anti-super power. I have no delusions that China or Russia are any better for mostly the same reasons.
        • I hear you...you're don't sound like a nutcase **to me**...you go a bit off on a few of your list there but that's not why i'm writing.

          It's wrong to say "the US government"

          Our government is the best system yet implemented.

          The problem is criminality. Even if it goes up to the President (and it surely has...many times...recently) that does not mean that **our system of governmance** is faulty.

          Our economic system (hardcore captialism) may surely encourage bribery...but in totalitarian communist countries you f

          • by TubeSteak (669689) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @05:45PM (#46520181) Journal

            It's wrong to say "the US government"

            Our government is the best system yet implemented.

            The problem is criminality. Even if it goes up to the President (and it surely has...many times...recently) that does not mean that **our system of governance** is faulty.

            A good system of governance should transparently expose, prevent, stop, and/or negate criminality.
            The fact that ours doesn't is a combination of weak oversight and poor internal culture.
            Having the "best" faulty government is not the same as having a good government.

            I'd also happily debate your claims that our government is the best system yet implemented.
            By itself, our dual party system (and the way they shut out 3rd parties) is cause for serious complaint.

            • by Lennie (16154)

              The fact that ours doesn't is

              the result of money: businesses having to much (in)direct influence.

              If it doesn't lead to corrupted politicians, it's at least corrupting democracy.

              • by BlueStrat (756137)

                The fact that ours doesn't is

                the result of money: businesses having to much (in)direct influence.

                If it doesn't lead to corrupted politicians, it's at least corrupting democracy.

                You're putting the cart before the horse.

                Corporations and others with money would not bother bribing/corrupting politicians in the US Federal government if those politicians had very little actual power or control, which is the way the US Constitution originally was designed.

                Starting in the early 1900s with President Wilson and the Progressive movement, however, the Federal government has been constantly expanding in power and scope, making it increasingly useful and attractive

                • by log0n (18224) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @07:52PM (#46521005)

                  All of your yapping back and forth over semantics is distracting you from the fact that we are living in a fucking police state. Focus.

                • The funny thing about your post is that it appears to suggest that states will be less corrupt and do better overall. This would of course be the horse shit in front of the cart.
                  But your reference to the progressive movement tells otherwise and is a far more enlightened response. I am sure it will be over the heads of most though...

                  I would maintain though it is still a very naive position to take though:

                  The problem with this situation is that it is not at all, even slightly, about finding a "solution".

                  A lo
            • by towermac (752159)

              "By itself, our dual party system (and the way they shut out 3rd parties) is cause for serious complaint."

              It just moves the action to the primaries is all. You do get out and vote in the primaries, don't you? And looking at Washington, are you sure a dozen parties would be better than two? And those multiple parties have to form coalitions, which the people did not get to vote for. One could make the case; that a two party system is cleaner, more transparent, and more accountable to the voters.

              If your state

            • all decisions can be reduced to "DO or Don't"..."yes or no"...."yeah or nay"...that's why **in every country** there is a majority and minority party

              first, the US is not by law or statute a "two party system"....any parties that meet the qualifications can get their candidates on the ballot

              2nd, since all decisions can be reduced to a Binary then by logic at the decision point all parties must pick a "yes or no" on a law or policy

              3rd, political parties are in other countries that have more than one strong pa

          • by dryeo (100693) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @06:13PM (#46520395)

            Our government is the best system yet implemented

            You are joking aren't you? Or perhaps you really believe a system of government invented close to 250 years ago and barely tweeked since then is perfect and there has been no advances in government since then?
            There are serious problems with the American government leading to the current inverted totalitarian state, a state with 1% of its population in prison, a state that removes basic rights from those incarcerated people so they can never take part in regular society, a state with 2 parties that are basically 2 wings of one party, a party of the rich (how much money does it take to run for office and how do they acquire that money), a government that treats its constitution as toilet paper as it is too hard to change or follow, a government with the best propaganda machine ever seen, even though it has been out sourced to private industry, a government that strives to have a population who are not into politics, a government that can produce people like you who parrot talking points like "having the best government ever invented" without knowing anything about other forms of democracies and probably just internally comparing to various regular totalitarian states.

            • by MrBigInThePants (624986) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @06:50PM (#46520657)
              "a state with 2 parties that are basically 2 wings of one party, a party of the rich "

              So true.

              Noam Chomsky:
              "In the United States, the political system is a very marginal affair. There are two parties, so-called, but they're really factions of the same party, the Business Party. Both represent some range of business interests. In fact, they can change their positions 180 degrees, and nobody even notices. In the 1984 election, for example, there was actually an issue, which often there isn't. The issue was Keynesian growth versus fiscal conservatism. The Republicans were the party of Keynesian growth: big spending, deficits, and so on. The Democrats were the party of fiscal conservatism: watch the money supply, worry about the deficits, et cetera. Now, I didn't see a single comment pointing out that the two parties had completely reversed their traditional positions. Traditionally, the Democrats are the party of Keynesian growth, and the Republicans the party of fiscal conservatism. So doesn't it strike you that something must have happened? Well, actually, it makes sense. Both parties are essentially the same party. The only question is how coalitions of investors have shifted around on tactical issues now and then. As they do, the parties shift to opposite positions, within a narrow spectrum."
            • by rsborg (111459)

              a state with 2 parties that are basically 2 wings of one party, a party of the rich (how much money does it take to run for office and how do they acquire that money)

              To add to your point, a majority of the members of congress are millionaires [1]. Keep in mind that reporting rules don't require disclosure of amounts above $1M, just that they are "over $1M". So it's getting harder to track the wealth and it's corruptive effects.

              [1] http://www.opensecrets.org/new... [opensecrets.org]

              • Having money isn't corrupt. It is the means by which the money is acquired that may be corrupt.

                Granted, as US law is setup now, it's nearly impossible to become rich without your hands in the US treasury, or special legal status not afforded to the general public. But it's not the "being rich" itself that is the problem.

          • I have heard all these arguments before and I am sorry I just don't agree. Other replies have articulated why in ways acceptable to me so I will not go further.

            But in summary:
            1) In general I don't accept the false premise that because you are "the best" that this is good enough and therefore somehow prevents me from pointing out why it is terrible.
            E.g. Discussing the "kindest" mass murderer and have you argue that this person cannot be called nasty because he was the kindest.

            2) I don't accept that your gove
            • 4) I don't agree that you can "clean house". You are naively assuming that the people are still in control of their government.

              trust me, Republicans are working on this as hard as they can, but only at the margins (voter ID laws)...and YES we did see Bush II get in via court decision...that is true....

              but you're wrong...all your points are wrong, but #4 is the only one that is worth refuting...for posterity

              for you to be correct, the US has to have widespread fruadulent elections

              it's not true at all

              if we vot

              • If you think the republicans are the solution to ANY of the USA's problems then I am very sorry sir it would be a waste of time even responding to you because your head is stuffed so far up your arse you would not be able to hear me.

                You post is barely literate and your reasoning likewise.
          • by Sabriel (134364)

            If a customer brought me a production system that badly infected, it would be unethical of me not to begin by recommending a bare metal format and clean reinstall from original sources - but good luck convincing the entire state and federal circus to collectively resign in the best interests of the country. ;p

            And no, your government is not the best system yet implemented. There are well-documented flaws in its electoral and legislative methods, its medical, military and prison policies, its telecommunicatio

            • And no, your government is not the best system yet implemented. There are well-documented flaws

              counter-example? if you don't have one then you don't have a point & should just admit you're wrong

              one that doesn't have the flaws you mention...

            • An ancient muslim scholar from around the 11th century (forget the guys name) noted that in general the ruling classes (in his case of city states) come from the country where they have their own power base. After seizing power they get settled in the city and turn their backs on the power base and go corrupt and soft and self serving after a few generations and cease to have the attributes that put them there. But there is always another ruling class with an external power base to take over.

              Sounds pretty m

        • If you had made such claims about the NSA a few years ago on slashdot you would have been ridiculed and marked a troll. It would have been unbelievable to most. (NB: I am NOT saying this justifies making unsubstantiated claims about the future though)

          But where will they be in 5-10 years when they are better at hiding their activities? I am not saying I know and I am not a conspiracy theorist but to be honest whatever it is it looks pretty grim.

          The only reasonable thing to do at this point is that if someth

          • I disagree.

            You are not talking about being reasonable or rational. Once you suspend the burden of proof you disappear down a rabbit hole and Christ only knows where you will end up - probably wearing a tin foil hat.
            I knew a completely crazy hardcore conspiracy theorist. Used to stay up all hours of the morning watching videos on the fact that 911 and the moon landing was a hoax etc.
            I can only imagine this is being used to justify all the conspiracies she believed in. This does not make her any less crazy.

            Ca
            • by Rich0 (548339)

              Sure, it makes sense to distinguish between speculation and facts.

              However, I tend to think that things which forms of surveillance which are conceptually possible are generally likely to be employed by the NSA, and probably other state actors as well. Moore's law and the even faster expansion of storage density enable a lot of crazy stuff. People only generate so much communications in a day - even if you do nothing but type or speak continuously all day long you only generate so many megabytes of data.

        • by towermac (752159)

          You had me up until "NSA's primary functions is squashing political dissent and corporate espionage". I mean, that's not really their primary function; stick to facts man. But they have done those things, so let's look at your examples:

          - Manipulations in places such as South America resulting in countless deaths.
          No, you can't blame them for the countless deaths. You assume they are the dominant players in sleazy corrupt South American politics. That's just silly. I will say I'm skeptical abou

          • "No, you can't blame them for the countless deaths"

            The CIA actively funded, trained and supplied death squads in SA. They did that in Iraq also including giving them the means to create and use the chemical weapons they dropped on the Kurds.
            So yes I can.
            NEXT!

            "You mean like Bin-Laden?"

            No, I mean the list of people (including some US citizens) that are marked for death.
            http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/feb/05/obama-kill-list-doj-memo
            NEXT!

            "Saddam lied about WMD in Iraq, and tricked George Bush. "

            No
          • by dbIII (701233)

            and plants some guy in Niger trying to buy uranium

            The "freedom fries" pin it on the French silly shit again? Saddam didn't need to buy uranium because there was a big stockpile of unused yellowcake in Iraq already known about when Rumsfeld was shaking Saddam's hand. Unused because Saddam killed off a few nuclear scientists for being too slow and ran out of them.
            Remember that the attempted coverup of the Niger lie nearly landed Libby in jail and he needed a Presidential pardon to avoid it? Why are you bri

        • by s.petry (762400)

          But where will they be in 5-10 years when they are better at hiding their activities? I am not saying I know and I am not a conspiracy theorist but to be honest whatever it is it looks pretty grim.

          Yes you are, and you should not be that worried about it. I realize that media propaganda has people believing "conspiracy theory" is a bad term, and "conspiracy theorist" is an evil person, but logic and rational thinking should show you the truth. The truth is that the propaganda is wrong, and meant to keep you from looking at what these people are doing. The truth is also that conspiracies do happen, and it's high time for people to really focus on that point.

          As a Philosopher I love conspiracy theorie

      • I can see only two possibilities for how the NSA could collect every single phone call of an entire country,

        my first reaction was "wow" but I was amazed that *the scope* not the technical ability

        from a network engineering perspective, those calls have to go through certain nodes and pathways...

        all are potential points of intercept...one concept you missed is **multiple collection methods**...they could do both of what you suggested combined with any of the following other possibilities:

        1. Submarines...every

    • by ihtoit (3393327)

      they probably won't be seeking permission, they'll more likely be tasking the system as the political landscape changes. Exchanges switching to IP-PBX from traditional PBX would make the task far easier, they'd just intercept the trunk via the Internet and pull the whole lot in one go instead of having to locate a specific physical point to carry out the intercept. This latest revelation sure is a step up from simply logging call endpoints and durations, though. We're into tinfoil territory here (though I d

    • Is really the key idea. From the old cold war NATO access in countries, shared facilities and generations of helpful local staff. Add in the new NATO countries, Asia, South America, Africa - somewhere cheap new communications loops will have a US or US friendly site to tap.
      Nations get cheap deals to replace ageing telco tech thats US price peering friendly and very NSA friendly.
      Cooperation of the target country can be one site with the skilled locals thinking its their own govs efforts.
      Cooperation of th
    • Most countries are easy targets. They have a national phone company and all traffic passes through them. Subvert that company and you'd have all the traffic. In the US it'd be harder. Our phone networks very distributed. There's lots of big, medium and small phone companies all over the place. The equipments different from state to state, town to town and even from house to house. Canada for example would be much easier for them to do this sort of thing in than the US. In Canada there's 1 phone company. Whe

      • Canada has one phone company, because the following are not Canadian phone companies: [/sarcasm]
        Bell Aliant - Made up of MT&T, NewTel, NBTel and IslandTel
        BabyTEL
        Bell Canada
        BoltonSmith
        Brooke Telecom
        Bruce Municipal Telephone Service
        Chatr
        CityWest
        Cogeco
        DMTS
        Eastlink
        Execulink Telecom
        Fibernetics Corporation/Freephoneline.ca
        Fido
        Gosfield North Communications Co-op
        Ice Wireless
        Inline Communications
        Iristel
        Lynx Mobility
        Manitoba Telecom Services/MTS Allstream
        North Renfrew Telephone Company
        NorthernTel
        Northwestel
        Novus
        O

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @04:18PM (#46519593)

    Think again.

    • Actually, if I could get access to mine, please?
      My wife has very selective memory. If I'm going to be in the doghouse, I'd like that transcript to PROVE HER WRONG first...

      Just kidding, she does have the common female power to actually alter reality just to prove a man wrong.

      • I'd like that transcript to PROVE HER WRONG first...

        Yeah. Since when does pointing out a woman's flaws keep you OUT of the doghouse?

  • Its ok. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NettiWelho (1147351) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @04:19PM (#46519595)
    Well this is a truly shocking revelation noone saw coming.

    NSA will probably claim they only use their power to create rainbows and heal sick puppies.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by reboot246 (623534)
      Which Noone saw it coming? Peter Noone? Does he work in intelligence nowadays?

      Just yanking your chain. I do agree with you, but I have no mod points today.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @04:32PM (#46519697)
    The problem with all of this is that warrants used to mean that if you had reasonable suspicion, you could ask nicely, and if you found something that gave you probable cause, you could get a search warrant.

    The unstated assumption is that only the things you find after you get the search warrant are admissible. The assumption was unstated because time machines didn't exist.

    If you bury the body and bleach the walls, the prosecution finds no blood. (The cops can find a dozen empty containers of bleach, and ask you why all your wallpaper is sparkling white, and that's still a pretty good foundation on which to build a case. Reasonable people don't bleach their ceilings with a mop.) You can wiretap the guy, but if he's already made the incriminating phone call to his very good friend with the pig farm, it's not going to help the prosecution very much unless the suspect is dumb enough to do it again. Hey, guess what? Law enforcement isn't supposed to be easy.

    We now have the ability to quite literally go back in time and look at everything someone ever said, preceding the time at which the warrant was issued.

    Legally, there's no time machine, you're just looking at the (nonpublic) permanent record of everything everybody ever said to anybody ever. But qualitatively, being able to go into the past and drag things up, even from private communications where both speakers had a reasonable expectation of privacy, appears to fundamentally change the definition of a warrant, of discovery, and so on.

    The whole concept of investigation has changed, and it makes the question "Are you now, or have you ever been, a [politically-undesirable / criminal]?" just got a whole lot murkier. I think that's the issue upon which the Supremes may ultimately have to rule.

    It's one thing to say "John Spartan, you have been fined one credit for violating the verbal morality statute." It's quite another to say "...for something you uttered on January 23, 1996."

    • +1 Actually Using Time Travel Relevantly In A Serious Discussion

      Cue discussion about Minority Report and Pre-Crime. Hey, both are (supposed to be) deterministic...

    • Ex post facto. As far as new laws; unless they ignore the constitution, they can't apply new laws to anything you did before that law as passed. Just hope they have valid timestamps.

      Somehow at some point we decided our constitutional limitations only apply to citizens (laying aside present violations) and ignore the "unalienable rights" and how it prohibits government rather than assigns human rights.

    • by Idbar (1034346)

      One part is that they can go back and look for anything that may sound incriminating and use it. Like the quote: "If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him."

      The other, is, how easy is to "plant" evidence that only they have access to?

    • by don.g (6394)

      I've bleached ceilings with a mop. I may not be a reasonable person, though, merely one that used to live in a damp, moldy house.

    • by Sabriel (134364)

      No. If it was illegal when you did it, it doesn't become any less illegal just because nobody found the evidence that caught you until X hours/months/years later. The statute of limitations - if applicable - doesn't make what you did legal, it makes prosecuting you for it illegal. Profound difference.

      The actual problem is that all of this surveillance is one-way. The watchers refuse to be watched in turn, and when we take matters into our own hands and catch them elbow-deep in the cookie jar, we are the one

    • by Rich0 (548339)

      The other issue with ubiquitous surveillance is that it doesn't even need to be used in court. You discover somebody is a drug dealer or whatever. You arrange to have a cop happen to walk past the house where a deal is going down and hear something suspicious. Busted!

      Basically you have to find a chain of evidence that is legal/plausible, but that is certainly possible. The US did that sort of thing in WWII all the time. Find out that a supply ship is at point XYZ from Enigma intercepts, arrange for a r

    • The problem with all of this is that warrants used to mean that if you had reasonable suspicion, you could ask nicely, and if you found something that gave you probable cause, you could get a search warrant.

      The unstated assumption is that only the things you find after you get the search warrant are admissible. The assumption was unstated because time machines didn't exist.

      ...

      We now have the ability to quite literally go back in time and look at everything someone ever said, preceding the time at which the warrant was issued.

      So law enforcement personnel aren't allowed to use security tapes from surveillance cameras, or ISP server logs, or any sort of record keeping? Sorry. We have always had the ability to "go back in time" to retrieve evidence.

  • by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @04:51PM (#46519809)

    If they are willing to spend the resources to store thirty days of phone calls, they probably are storing a lot more than thirty days of textual data - text takes up very little space. I imagine every SMS message, email and IM communication they can obtain is kept for a few years.

    This is a good chance to plug Retroshare. Go get it. Tell your friends to get it. Annoy the NSA with an IM program even they can't monitor on a large scale.

  • I've wanted backups of my stuff for a long time. Hopefully the NSA can commercialize this and allow us to retrieve our conversations whenever we want. This is way better than the never forgetting GoogleMind or FaceBook! Imagine the possibilities.. when you promised your kid ice-cream for good grades last month, they can look it up and call you out for cheating them!

  • by QilessQi (2044624) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @05:01PM (#46519881)

    ...all domestic telephone calls will be routed through Great Britain from now on.

    • Hey

      We have our own problems thankyou -.-

    • by QilessQi (2044624)

      (I was actually going for the +1 Funny, Being modded +1 Insightful on this is a little... unnerving.)

    • by Rich0 (548339)

      ...all domestic telephone calls will be routed through Great Britain from now on.

      No need. While the NSA isn't allowed to spy on Americans, the GCHQ is allowed to do so. I'm sure the GCHQ is interested in what Brits are doing in the privacy of their homes, so the NSA just trades that data for whatever the GCHQ is collecting on Americans.

      Or maybe the NSA just outright spies on Americans. You never know which ones aren't actually Americans until you listen in...

    • No need to go that far. The Buffalo to Detroit link probably goes through Canada.
  • Honestly anyone with half a clue has known the NSA has been doing this FOR YEARS.

    In fact I saw a great documentary on the subject in 1998

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E... [wikipedia.org]

    ( I am actually serious... who in the western world did not already know the NSA had these capabilities? The surprising thing to me would have been if it came out that they DID NOT have them - at which point I would wonder what they were doing with their billions of dollars ).

    • by log0n (18224)

      *edit* I take it all back. I see your in Canada, so I guess your blase attitude towards all of this destruction of democracy in the US is ok. For us in the US who get it, this really sucks.

  • by PPH (736903)

    Why would they want 30 days of this [youtube.com]?

  • We should all file FOIA requests for our last month's conversations.
  • by b1ng0 (7449)

    So why don't they start tracking the phone calls that were made from flight MH370?

    • by Cimexus (1355033)

      It's virtually impossible to make a cellphone call from a plane in flight. Firstly, for all but a very small portion of its likely path, MH370 was over the open ocean (no cell towers out there). Secondly, even over land, a plane is a hollow metal cylinder and a rather effective Faraday cage. Unless you're flying low'n'slow (e.g. 9/11), holding a call is very diffcult. I've tried it before and while I might occasionally get a few bars worth of signal, it's not useable in the real world.

  • As an American Taxpayer, all this is well and good (well as long as it's not MY country that's being hacked) but...

    With all this data/phone calls being intercepted, why hasn't more governments that the U.S. doesn't like been overthrown?

    IF they have so totally compromised the infrastructure of foreign nations as to be able to hack even the heads of states e-mail (Sorry Chancellor Merkel!) and intercept and record ALL of a nations telephone conversations they must have dirt on SO MANY PEOPLE.

    How many mistress

    • by Rich0 (548339)

      How many mistresses and Dachas does Putin have? How many billions (and where are they kept) are stashed away by the rulers of China?

      That is a sword that cuts both ways. You don't need the NSA to figure out that a lot of US politicians are dirty.

      It is like assassinating foreign heads of state. It isn't like the US couldn't assassinate just about any world leader if it wanted to. The problem is that the reverse is just as true. No world leader wants to create a world in which world leaders can't sleep soundly at night.

  • by Tom (822) on Wednesday March 19, 2014 @04:59AM (#46522825) Homepage Journal

    a country, or any country? That's important here. If they can do it to one country that only means that have one target thoroughly infiltrated. But if they can do it to any country of their choosing, then I'm seriously frightened.

    Here's why: Telecommunication is considered vital infrastructure in every country I know. I used to work in the industry. We had some of our phone switches in frigging nuclear-blast-proof bunkers. They and our primary storage system occupied the highest security data center available to us. There's nothing civilian above that.

    As a security guy, I can of course imagine a few ways to breach security or hack the switch, i.e. both electronically and physically. But it would require a considerably amount of resources. So if they have done that for everything everywhere, then... wow.

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