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NSA Data Mining Much Larger Than Reported 863

silassewell writes to tell us The New York Times is reporting that the "volume of information harvested from telecommunication data and voice networks, without court-approved warrants, is much larger than the White House has acknowledged." The NSA gained the cooperation of many American telecommunication companies after 9/11 to access streams of communication, both domestic and international, as a part of a presidentially approved program to hunt for evidence of terrorist activity.
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NSA Data Mining Much Larger Than Reported

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  • by ThatGeek ( 874983 ) on Saturday December 24, 2005 @10:37PM (#14334305) Homepage
    I've always wondered what huge companies get by turning over data to the Feds. Companies never do anything to "make the world a better place" unless they are getting something in return... reduced regulation? maybe tax reductions?

    All I know is that democracy dies behind closed doors. What exactly is going on in this country?

    This is EXACTLY why I'm learning Spanish! Costa Rica by the year 2010, baby.
  • by Ivan Raikov ( 521143 ) on Saturday December 24, 2005 @10:43PM (#14334323) Homepage
    Lambert over at CorrenteWire has a pretty interesting article on Internet surveillance by the NSA [correntewire.com]:
    By carefully examining how Republicans parse their statements about Bush's warrantless, openly felonious, and treasonous[1] domestic surveillance program, and combining that with network engineering knowledge available through open sources, alert reader philosophicus has advanced our understanding of the NSA surveillance system Bush set up. Long story short: (1) Internet surveillance is Bush's goal, not voice calls; (2) the Republican "wiretap" talking point is a diversion, to voice, away from from Internet surveillance; (3) Bush's domestic surveillance system would pose no engineering challenges whatever to NSA. No rocket science--or tinfoil hats--required.
  • Secure IM (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ZachPruckowski ( 918562 ) <zachary.pruckowski@gmail.com> on Saturday December 24, 2005 @10:51PM (#14334346)
    Does anyone know a secure IM? I've heard you can interface Gaim with tor, but does it work with Gaim descendents like Adium for OS X? And can you have real time IM with these secure proxy stuff.

    Also, I'd recommend Tor and Privoxy [eff.org] for normal browsing if you want security.
  • Re: KGB (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) * on Saturday December 24, 2005 @11:03PM (#14334381)
    > Is there anybody out there who doubts that Bush is not good for our country?

    There's some as to whether he's even in the loop [newyorker.com].
  • by NZheretic ( 23872 ) on Saturday December 24, 2005 @11:34PM (#14334479) Homepage Journal
    From The Mass Media as Fourth Estate [ndirect.co.uk]:
    The term fourth estate is frequently attributed to the nineteenth century historian Carlyle, though he himself seems to have attributed it to Edmund Burke:
    Burke said there were Three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters' Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate more important than they all. It is not a figure of speech, or a witty saying; it is a literal fact, .... Printing, which comes necessarily out of Writing, I say often, is equivalent to Democracy: invent Writing, Democracy is inevitable. ..... Whoever can speak, speaking now to the whole nation, becomes a power, a branch of government, with inalienable weight in law-making, in all acts of authority. It matters not what rank he has, what revenues or garnitures: the requisite thing is that he have a tongue which others will listen to; this and nothing more is requisite.
    The mainstream media has failed to hold either side accountable for claims that diverge widely from the known facts [blogspot.com]. The inevitable result is a current administration that, like Nixon, believes it is above the law.
  • Re:How to cope? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Guppy06 ( 410832 ) on Saturday December 24, 2005 @11:48PM (#14334521)
    "How can we as the American people cope with a President that doesn't even acknowledge that what he's doing is illegial?"

    We've done it before. [wikipedia.org] Which reminds me: before you impeach Bush and remove him from office, remember who then gets sworn in.

    Makes you wish we didn't vote for the two on the same ticket, doesn't it? [slashdot.org]

    "How can we further cope with a Congress that hasn't already 'stopped the presses' by calling for immediate hearings on the matter?"

    By whom, the same Congress that refuses to swear in oil executives when they come to talk about their windfall profits?

    "but does 'freedom' include not being able to openly discuss laws and policies?"

    As he said back in 2001, you're either with him or against him. And if you're against him, there are national security letters to keep you quiet.

    If you don't like Bush's policies, you're de facto giving aid and comfort to the terrorists. Not even the Other Beloved Party, the Democrats, can stomach being accused of that.
  • What's going on (Score:3, Interesting)

    by quokkapox ( 847798 ) <quokkapox@gmail.com> on Saturday December 24, 2005 @11:49PM (#14334525)
    What exactly is going on in this country?

    We need better leaders. I'm not just referring to our dipshit-in-chief.

    If more people would just stand up and fight for ideas like freedom, tolerance, compassion, and plain old common sense, humanity would be better off.

    Costa Rica by the year 2010, baby.

    Right on. Canada is looking better every day. Actually anywhere not currently targeted by USA nukes. Seriously.

    Happy Solstice, everybody...

  • So...the first attempt by the NYT to create panic about supposed "spying" against American citizens turned out to be a total joke (since it was only international calls between known terrorists and people/numbers inside the U.S.) so they're trying again in an attempt to boost book sales. It's not THAT hard to track the author's names, editor's names, etc. and see that.

    Do a little research and you'll find there has always been government monitoring of communication. Think about it a little and you'll realize that an essential part of providing security. There's this little blurb in the founding documents of the U.S. which talks about "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Life is first in the list, before liberty. You can't have liberty if you don't have life and the only way to have life is to protect against those who wish to take it from others.

    What's next? They will discover that cell "phones" are actually radios so monitoring isn't that difficult nor subject to the laws which apply to land line telephones? They'll discover it's possible to read the contents of a sealed envelope without reading it? They'll discover most email is non-encrypted?

    No, wait, I've got it. They'll "discover" frequent buyer discount cards are actually used to gather customer demographics. Yeah, and Diebold is part of the plot to "spy" on every person in the world.

    Oh, yeah, that's a start. Let's also claim the large banks of the world are involved because they monitor credit card use under the guise of looking for fraudulent behavior. (Let's ignore how the Patriot Act allows real-time tracking and reporting of credit card fruad as it happens which has lead to many arrests of the thieves while they're on their shopping sprees.) Yeah, that's good, too.

    OK, we've got the leftwing cooks, let's do something to bring in the rightwing cooks. Uh...we'll claim all this data is stored in a giant computer in Switzerland (built by IBM for the Nazis) called The Beast. We can't pull off the number trick which gave the numeric value of 666 to the names Reagan and Hitler this time so we'll claim GWB = 666. Yeah, that's good. Oh, and he drinks raw goat's blood during the full moon while burning black candles. All that churchy stuff is just a cover-up.

    Yeah, that about covers it.


    Honestly, this is just a bunch of stupid FUD. Of course, the American intel monitors communication. So does every other country and intel/security force. This is the real world, not cartoons. The "bad guys" don't stand out and identify themselves.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 24, 2005 @11:53PM (#14334547)
    Perhaps its time to remember this quote, which speaks a timeless truth:

    "Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done, and I am Caesar."

    -Julius Caesar
  • https isn't all that, but I support it on my own site, https://freeinternetpress.com/ [freeinternetpress.com] , and I put a little reminder image on the top left. It's pretty trivial to do, and if you believe https makes you that much more secure, go for it.

        https is decryptable. The question would be, are they interested in doing it? Most people are sending the majority of their stuff in the clear. Most people assume that because they may have a secure connection to their mail server, that it's encrypted going to another server. That's far from the truth. SMTP is unecrypted, as are most implementations of POP and IMAP. Your IM messages are also unencrypted, or at least can be intercepted at the server. I picked my VoIP carrier, because their data is encrypted, but it's only that way until it has to go over traditional transports. If I call another VoIP customer on my provider, it's (as advertised) encrypted. If I call a POTS line, there goes my security.

        Is it worth their while to decrypt encrypted stuff? Probably not. But, if they believe a target is worth while, they'll crack your communication like it's nothing. I'm sure plenty of people will respond with the "it would take a..." messages. It would use a (whatever), if YOU, the casual user were to do it. If they had a dedicated cluster set up for figuring out keys, then it's trivial. They can crack your encryption faster than a kid with a copy of airsnort can crack your WEP encryption.

        Of course, the more encryption you use, the more suspicious you look. What are you trying to hide? Will it be faster to pick you up, seize all of your electronics, and interrogate you for the next two years?

        What do you have to hide anyways? Chances are, nothing that interesting.

        I've given up on the thought that anything I say or do is that interesting to them. If it was, I would have the black van still parked in front of my house, or I'd be lounging around in Southeastern Cuba. I don't do anything all that subversive. I report the news, which is already publically available.

        My biggest concerns are that some wannabe agent, like a TSA agent, or local rookie cop, will harass me over things I carry. I have a laptop. I have miles of cables and adapters. I have books on security. Oddly enough, I use them for perfectly legal work. I get harassed occasionally. For quite a while, I'd be selected for secondary searches at airports, because the wire for my WiFi antenna was stuck to the top of my laptop. I'd tell them what it was. They'd half-ass search my bag, and ask questions about why I was traveling. 15 minutes later, I'd go and get on the plane. They'd miss obvious things, like my bag smelled of gunpowder, or there was a lighter in the bottom of my bag.

        BTW, the gunpowder smell wasn't anything illegal. I was at the shooting range one day, and at the airport later. No gun, no ammo, but plenty of residual stink that their sniffer didn't pick up. I don't feel any safer because of the searches. I just feel delayed and violated. Why should I have to explain every device I carry with me, when they're all commercially available (and legal) products?

        It still sucks that I can't carry a screwdriver. I *HAVE* to check a bag everywhere I go, because I can't carry a #2 phillips with me. It makes it very hard for me to work, if I don't have at least that.

        For some reason, last time I flew, several pairs of jeans were seized. They forgot the extensive electronics and hand tools, and stole my jeans. {sigh} I'm happy they didn't take any of the electronics or tools. Those are more expensive to replace.

  • by nbahi15 ( 163501 ) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @12:02AM (#14334578) Homepage

    I know that it is typical for the Slashdot libertarian crowd to have an aversion, almost knee-jerk reaction, to any privacy related issue, we Slashdot liberals feel the same. Bush has once again crossed the line, but as a neo-pinko liberal I am not surprised, I am not even particularly annoyed. My disgust with the United States and its inability to provide an open inclusive society runs far deeper than this single incident. I am annoyed with Missle Defense, drilling in ANWR, Intelligent Design, pro-life, pro-death penalty, secret prisons, prisoner abuse, tying iraq to terror, no child left behind, get tough on immigration, get tough on crime, christian coalition, anti-welfare, anti-healthcare, anti-gun control, pro-business, anti-environment, crap. Really the entire political dialogue of the so-called United States has been broken for years, and Bush certainly doesn't see anything less than absolute god-granted carte blanche on the war on terror. Remember this guy doesn't answer to the voter, he answers to god. So my question is when can we vote on the new constitution, because I feel that I am the one living in Iraq, but I don't have the excuse of invasion?
  • Some suggestions (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jd ( 1658 ) <{moc.oohay} {ta} {kapimi}> on Sunday December 25, 2005 @12:04AM (#14334583) Homepage Journal
    Minimum hardware will depend on the quality and the level of security that you want. I'd say that a mid-range Pentium IV should be sufficient for fairly respectable results on both, and even a 386DX could produce unencrypted telephone-grade VoIP, so a 486DX should be able to encrypt the stream at a very basic level.

    Software depends on how you're intending to do the encryption. If you're planning on hooking up to a regular phone system as well as doing VoIP, then you're certainly looking at using Asterisk for your exchange system.

    At the kernel level, for pure VoIP, you probably want to use either Linux with either the StrongSWAN or OpenSWAN patches applied, OpenBSD or MirBSD. (I believe FreeBSD and NetBSD have IPSec, but I'm not sure.) This allows you to encrypt from your machine to the destination, using a grade of encryption that will be proof against standard wiretaps. Rijndael (AES) is (as far as anyone knows) uncrackable on existant technology and if you combine it with SHA-2, you've a system that would be impervious to any wiretap you're likely to encounter.

    For working with Asterisk, you want to use a stream cipher, not a block cipher. Asterisk with Encryption WIKI [voip-info.org] has more information on how to set it all up. You basically link up a VPN and encrypt the VPN. Because some line loss is inevitable, you want an algorithm that is resistant to loss and is reasonably fast. There are phones that have hardware encryption in them, which provide higher levels of security and they are also listed.

    Of the stream ciphers out there, FEAL/SEAL and Chameleon seem to be the most reputable.

  • by wasted ( 94866 ) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @12:04AM (#14334586)
    The real privacy concerns to me are whether the NSA is sharing this information to be used by others for purposes other than those used to justify the monitoring. For instance, if they hear that I have a real big order of yeast and barley malt enroute from one company, and a lot of lab equipment on order from another company, will they alert the ATF that I have just ordered the necessary ingredients and supplies to start distillng alcohol? Although illegal where I reside, a still is not a security risk, and passing on that type of information seems to me to be the greater privacy risk, and goes against the whole reason for the monitoring in the first place. Of course, others may disagree, and no, I don't have a still.
  • by jd ( 1658 ) <{moc.oohay} {ta} {kapimi}> on Sunday December 25, 2005 @12:50AM (#14334734) Homepage Journal
    Unfortunately, Dubya also understands what it means to have majorities in both houses, soon to be the Supreme Court as well. It means that the odds of an impeachment crossing BOTH houses AND surviving an appeal would be next to nil. Especially as he is popular with the extreme right and it's the extreme right that'll probably decide 2006' elections. After that point, impeachment proceedings would last longer than the remaining presidential term.

    In short, there's absolutely nothing anybody can do about him. There are no effective safeguards and no meaningful counterbalances for this kind of situation. The best any moderate can hope for is that both the 2006 and 2008 elections are decided by great enough margins towards those who want effective safeguards, that it'll be as easy to stabilize and secure the system then as it has been for the current administration to corrupt it.

    My personal preference would be for a constitutional amendment that added a wholly new branch of Government - outside the Executive, Legislative and Judicial - that has all the necessary powers, clearances, means and protections to investigate corruption at absolutely any level in every branch of Government. That is it. That is all it would do. Just investigate. Because it was independent of all other branches, it would not have political appointments made to it, could not be ordered to stop, or indeed even ordered to start. The power of such a body is not in what it could do, but in what it could know.

    Government is often corruptible, not because it is powerful - most humans are powerful over something in their lives, but aren't necessarily abusive - but because few in Government have any reason to believe anyone'll know about it. The moment you can guarantee that (a) someone WILL know about it - no matter how classified the information, and (b) they're utterly protected against reprisals if they talk, then those in power will be much less likely to step over the line. (And, if they do genuinely feel as though they have to, they're going to put every ounce of effort into establishing WHY no alternatives are viable, because they WILL be asked questions later.)

  • by keraneuology ( 760918 ) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @12:52AM (#14334737) Journal
    Rumors have it that information obtained by the NSA is routinely passed along to US corporations to assist them in obtaining contracts. Read here [corpwatch.org].
  • by SilverspurG ( 844751 ) * on Sunday December 25, 2005 @12:59AM (#14334759) Homepage Journal
    My personal preference would be for a constitutional amendment that added a wholly new branch of Government - outside the Executive, Legislative and Judicial
    Given the size and scope, much of it unconstitutional, of our current government the best answer can not possibly be more government. The only way to fix bloatware is to hack it down.
  • Not necessarily. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jd ( 1658 ) <{moc.oohay} {ta} {kapimi}> on Sunday December 25, 2005 @01:09AM (#14334795) Homepage Journal
    I've found the best way to fix bloatware in a program is to add support for debugging, monitoring and valgrinding. Once you've done that, then ripping out the dead parts of the code is easy. Until you've done that, then you can't be sure if what you're removing is important or not, or if it simply needs writing better.

    One program I had to de-bloat was about 15 million lines long, most of it very badly maintained Motif GUI code. I added a 1,000 line widget set to the code, and was then able to remove 14 million lines of unnecessary redundancy.

    Adding the right stuff, therefore, CAN lead to removal of the wrong stuff. Adding a pin to a balloon will remove bloat.

  • by symbolic ( 11752 ) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @01:26AM (#14334846)
    How did Echelon help deter the 9/11 attack? Oh, it didn't. More importantly, WHY? Doesn't anyone find it rather odd that despite already having the most all-encompassing surveillance technology available and in operation, 9/11 occurred anyway? What's different about the no-warrant wiretaps and TIA (or whatever they're choosing to call it today?) Could it be that the government is merely looking for a way to force public acceptance of a hideous (and, based on the lack of results from Echelon) probably unecessary surveillance state?
  • Nobody is arguing that intel on communications is a bad thing. The real news is bypassing the courts to make sure that what and who they are spying on is legitimate. For instance, we don't want them spying on democrats in order to get the jump on them politically so that they can consistently stay in power by being to outmanuever them. Information is power, and how they get that information should be regulated.

    Secondly, if the President can do all this. Why bother with a the patriot act at all? Seems like he has all the power he needs to do what he's doing. Thirdly, he told the American public that he's going to the court to do wire-tapping. Now we find out thats not whats going on at all. Somebody isn't playing straight with us. That's the news. The NSA/FBI/CIA spying is not news and that I agree with you.

  • by Keith McClary ( 14340 ) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @02:06AM (#14334969)
    Really ??? You can't think of laws in the U.S. or other "Western Countries" (if i were asian or middle eastern I think would be horribly offended) that apply only to non citizens ? Really Really Really nothing comes to mind. No right, no restrictions on action, nothing comes to mind. Hmmm you did actually make an effort to look before you posted right ??

    I have lived in the US as a foreign student. AFAIK I had the same rights as US citizens as long as I had legal residency status. Please give examples of US laws that apply only to non-citizens (legally resident). e.g. is there a law that says the police can search my house without a warrent if I am not a citizen? Did you make an effort to find such laws before you posted?

    The only difference in rights is that non-citizens can have their residency status revoked and be deported. There are no separate US laws for non citizens.

    I don't know about places like Saudi Arabia or Israel.
  • by Hartree ( 191324 ) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @02:16AM (#14335003)
    Interesting that the parent gets modded "troll". Slashdot modding at its best.

    Note that "for years now" should be "for decades now".

    Stick the term "NSA line eater" into google groups and see the output in 1986.

    Echelon has been around a long time, people. It's been pretty widely known for a long time as well.

    It's fine to debate whether the program is wise, or legal, or whether it should be legal. But implying this is something relatively new and shocking is reminiscent of Claude Raines in Casablanca.

    The more interesting question is, what were the specifics of the bypassing of the FIS court, and what the reasons for that were. Was there a new interpretation for the existing exceptions, or did the increasing ability of technology turn an existing exception into something beyond the original intent of FISA? This isn't clear to me. Frankly, this is a case where details matter, and they are quite lacking.

    As is common, those that know the full story aren't talking, and that that are talking, largely don't know the full story.
  • by tyrus568 ( 644456 ) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @04:38AM (#14335309)
    My apologies for such a long quote, but Dylan comes to mind here:

    Come you masters of war
    You that build all the guns
    You that build the death planes
    You that build the big bombs
    You that hide behind walls
    You that hide behind desks
    I just want you to know
    I can see through your masks

    Like Judas of old
    You lie and deceive
    A world war can be won
    You want me to believe
    But I see through your eyes
    And I see through your brain
    Like I see through the water
    That runs down my drain

    You fasten the triggers
    For the others to fire
    Then you set back and watch
    When the death count gets higher
    You hide in your mansion
    As young people's blood
    Flows out of their bodies
    And is buried in the mud

    You've thrown the worst fear
    That can ever be hurled
    Fear to bring children
    Into the world
    For threatening my baby
    Unborn and unnamed
    You ain't worth the blood
    That runs in your veins

    How much do I know
    To talk out of turn
    You might say that I'm young
    You might say I'm unlearned
    But there's one thing I know
    Though I'm younger than you
    Even Jesus would never
    Forgive what you do

    Let me ask you one question
    Is your money that good
    Will it buy you forgiveness
    Do you think that it could
    I think you will find
    When your death takes its toll
    All the money you made
    Will never buy back your soul

    And I hope that you die
    And your death'll come soon
    I will follow your casket
    In the pale afternoon
    And I'll watch while you're lowered
    Down to your deathbed
    And I'll stand o'er your grave
    'Til I'm sure that you're dead. ...could've been written today, ffs. Says I have too few characters per line, oh well. I'll try to write something longer so it'll all fit in okay. Ah, there, that should do it just about now once I finish this sentance.

    Or, not. That sucks. Well, I like the damn song anyways. Fuck Bush! I got a warning on WoW for saying that in the Barrens. :/
  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) * on Sunday December 25, 2005 @11:01AM (#14335915)
    > Not only was Clinton too busy having his dick sucked to take any notice of the largest frauds in American history

    What I find funny is that right-wingers are still hauling out Clinton distract attention from the current administration's excesses.

    Sure, Clinton, like every other president in living memory - with the possible exception of Carter - was a liar and a crook. Does that mean we should just go along with unjustified wars and the wholesale destruction of our civil liberties?

    Do you think Johnson's exploitation of the Tonkin Gulf "incident" was OK on the grounds that Nixon was a liar? Or the Iran-Contra affair was OK because of something Kennedy did?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 25, 2005 @12:27PM (#14336124)
    Government is often corruptible, not because it is powerful - most humans are powerful over something in their lives, but aren't necessarily abusive

    Wrong -- government is corrupt precisely because government holds power (the "right" to initiate force as a means to an end).

    Think about it. Every crime that has ever been committed in human history is a product of some person or group initiating force against another. The very worst crimes ever committed, I shouldn't have to point out, were a product of government and it's special "right" to initiate force as a business model.

    Now, if you want to go and define "power" as wealth, or social influence, you'd better be sure to distinguish between that and actual, real power. Those "powers" are a product of voluntary association; government's power is a product of pure force.

  • by Elixon ( 832904 ) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @01:34PM (#14336312) Homepage Journal
    We have one writter-philosopher in our country that says that there is no difference between "soviet political elite" and "american political elite". I think that now it is at least worth of thinking about it, right?

At work, the authority of a person is inversely proportional to the number of pens that person is carrying.