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FBI May Get Easier Access To Internet Activity 276

olsmeister writes "It appears the White House would like to make it easier for the FBI to obtain records of a person's internet activities without a court order to do so, via the use of an NSL. While they have been able to do this for a long time, it may expand the type of information able to be gathered without a court order to include things like web browsing histories."
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FBI May Get Easier Access To Internet Activity

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  • by JoshuaZ ( 1134087 ) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @10:03AM (#33068456) Homepage
    It seems like on civil liberties issues Obama is being almost as bad as Bush. There's something deeply wrong with my country when I read a headline and my first thought is "Well, at least this President isn't having people tortured."
    • by DJRumpy ( 1345787 ) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @10:06AM (#33068504)

      I'm a liberal, but I have to agree. Why do they constantly feel the need to bypass the current warrant system? They can get these after the fact, yet they continue to push for ways to simply bypass them altogether. I realize it's a dangerous world, but if the end result turns the U.S. into something just as bad as that which we are trying to protect ourselves from, what's the use?

      The end does not justify the means...

      • by QuantumRiff ( 120817 ) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @10:24AM (#33068716)

        This is why I am so against some of the deep packet inspection coupled with Ads some ISP's have been looking at. When charter was looking at it, you could get a cookie that would prevent the targeted ads from displaying in your browser, however, they are still tracking your every move, just don't show you the ads. (its easier to scan everything than scan selectively).

        Some people are okay with that, but a few years later, and now, without a warrant, the FBI can see what you were looking at.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

        Why do they constantly feel the need to bypass the current warrant system? They can get these after the fact, yet they continue to push for ways to simply bypass them altogether.

        Because it's not a matter of conservative vs liberal, or or Democrat vs Republican, or of right vs left. It's a matter of courage vs cowardice, and the people at the top are cowards regardless of politics or at the top to begin with.

        Only the power-hungry obtain power, and only the money-hungry obtain great wealth.

        • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @10:54AM (#33069200) Journal

          "Avarice and ambition will break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution is made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." - John Adams

          "No man's life, liberty or fortune is safe while our legislature is in session." -- Benjamin Franklin. Sir, there are two passions which have a powerful influence in the affairs of men. These are ambition and avarice; the love of power and the love of money. Separately, each of these has great force in prompting men to action; but, when united in view of the same object, they have, in many minds, the most violent effects." - Dangers of a Salaried Bureaucracy, 1787

          I wish people would start listening to these guys.

        • "the people at the top are cowards regardless of politics "

          Spot on. Almost everyone old enough to have in interest in Slashdot should remember the hysteria in Washington after 9/11. Invade Afghanistan (which I agreed with) invade Iraq (did not agree with) Kill Osama, he's mailing us anthrax, pass the Patriotic Gestapo Bill quickly - etc ad nauseum. Mass frigging hysteria. "If you're not with us, you're against us." In effect, telling the whole world to choose sides, because we're headed for Armageddon.

          • >>>pass the Patriotic Gestapo Bill quickly - etc ad nauseum. Mass frigging hysteria

            I saw the same thing in late 2008 and through most of 2009. "We gotta pass these Bailout and Stimulus Bills quickly, without even bothering to read them!" The Republicans almost all voted these bills down, but since the Democrats had the majority they rammed them through anyway. Hysteria.

            I hate them all. I wish the Congress was run by Libertarians or constitutionalists. People who obey the 9th and 10th amendment

          • >>>Invade Afghanistan (which I agreed with)

            I don't. Going to war over a few deaths (~3000) is ridiculous and juvenile. Since 9/11 approximately 420,000 people have died on the highway. If we're going to spend billions of dollars trying to prevent death, let's spend it on the thing that kills the most people - cars. Not terrorists.

    • So he shut down Camp X-Ray on Guantanamo Bay? I must have missed that in the news.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Had you instead written "It seems like on civil liberties issues Obama is worse than Bush" -- IOW, the truth -- you would've been modded "Troll," not "Insightful," for sure.

      Damn right I'm posting this A.C.!

      • by Nadaka ( 224565 )

        Obama isn't exactly worse.

        He hasn't repealed the gross violations implemented by the previous administration.

        But the violations he has implemented are much less horrific in comparison to what Bush/Cheney put into effect.

        To put it in perspective, things are still going down hill, but we are not jumping off another cliff at the moment.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          He hasn't repealed the gross violations implemented by the previous administration.
          But the violations he has implemented are much less horrific in comparison to what Bush/Cheney put into effect.
          To put it in perspective, things are still going down hill, but we are not jumping off another cliff at the moment.

          So, what you're saying is that He is not making things better, but that he's not making them worse as quickly as he might?

          Does the phrase "damn him with faint praise" mean anything to you?

    • by bckspc ( 172870 )

      "Well, at least this President isn't having people tortured."

      He just gave the people who sanctioned the torture a free pass [], instead.

      I've said it before, Obama is the New Bush []!

    • My girfriend was convinced that Obama was going to change everything (she's so naive, but it's kind of cute in a girl). I told her that he would just continue 90% of Bush's evil shit once he got into office, and even the 10% of change would be moderate/token at best. It's the one point on which Dick Cheney and I agree []. Obama is like every other politician. He only hates the police state when he's not the one in charge of it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      It seems like on civil liberties issues Obama is being almost as bad as Bush

      Almost as bad? Try worse and just continuing what was done by Dems under Clinton. You didn't really think Dems have less love of power and ability to intrude and control than those big bad Republicans did you? Maybe by 2012 you won't be so naive and eat the sugar coated campaign slogans.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      "Well, at least this President isn't having people tortured."

      You think the CIA isn't doing that in black camps across Eurasia? Was there an executive order to that effect?

      To top it off, Obama has ordered the execution of Americans overseas suspected of participating in terrorism, without even a trial.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Well, you have to admit, Obama did promise more openness and transparancy. You just didn't realize he meant yours.

  • by MoeDumb ( 1108389 ) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @10:05AM (#33068480)
    The usual solutions . . . unless they're planning to outlaw those too?
    • by Lawrence_Bird ( 67278 ) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @10:51AM (#33069138) Homepage
      You are a fool if you think those can protect you from the three letter agencies. Hope this [] doesn't spoil your day.
      • Oh SSH etc can protect you from three letter agencies (unless you piss someone off so much that they're willing to prove that they can crack RSA.... assuming they can)but only if you can't trust third parties like signing authorities, you can swap keys with a friend personally and you're as safe as the OS's you're using.
        (ignoring Van Eck phreaking of course but if you're that scared just build shielding into your home and sleep with the server and your guns)

        But as long as you trust a third party who can hav

      • by Sloppy ( 14984 )

        First, MitM-vulnerable encryption does protect you, just not completely. Yes, if they're concentrating on you because they're specifically interested in you, then they will MitM. But they're not going to MitM everyone to fish (if they do that, they'll eventually be detected). It's easy for you to do and possibly a slight pain in the ass for them to defeat. When your force you opponent to MitM instead of having the luxury of passively trawling, you gain an advantage you otherwise wouldn't have, even if

  • by Pojut ( 1027544 ) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @10:05AM (#33068482) Homepage

    Always treat every single thing you do online as if anyone could see what you are doing. If you don't want people to know you are visiting certain sites, then don't visit them. If you don't want people to know your opinion about something, don't write it on Facebook.

    Treat everything you do online as if you have zero privacy. That way, in case something goes screwy, you have no surprises waiting for you.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If you have said it before, why not save us all the trouble and just keep your mouth shut then?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by metiscus ( 1270822 )

      Storage is so cheap anymore that it is quite reasonable that any agency (or entity for that matter) that had the desire to monitor the complete transaction history of any particular individual on the internet could do so easily and very cheaply assuming they had the proper access. Mind you, ISPs and phone companies could already be doing such things, I don't think that there is a particular law against doing so. If that is the case, then true privacy is, since telephones have been around forever, and has be

    • Treat everything you do online as if you have zero privacy.

      If I can't have privacy, I'd at least like anonymity. That's what we are really after anyhow. Privacy relies on your identity being known, but your activities remaining unknown.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by natehoy ( 1608657 )

      I agree, except for what is implied by what you aren't saying (and I don't want to put words in your mouth, so I want to make it clear that this is something you appear to be inferring, and is obviously what others have seen as well given prior responses to your post).

      Your statement sounds like the "if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear" meaning you appear to be OK with things going, as you say, screwy, because it won't affect you due to your discretion.

      First, your sense of discretion is pro

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Smekarn ( 1623831 )
      That's exactly how I don't feel I should have to live my life. This whole "If you've got nothing to hide..."-crap is getting on my nerves. I should not be assumed to be a criminal unless proven otherwise! Your "solution" is not a solution at all, but a stepping around the problem and in the end an assistance for the continuation of said problem.

      I agree that I should not PUBLICLY voice my opinion in matters that I don't want people to know about, but everything else is my goddamned business
  • by Virtucon ( 127420 ) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @10:06AM (#33068502)

    I'm sorry but I have a sense of Privacy in my life and the thought of some bureaucrat being able to snoop on my traffic or anything they want without a warrant is to damn Orwellian for my taste.

    We have laws to protect our rights, among those are the rights to Privacy. Why the hell then do we allow the Executive Branch of government trounce on those rights because of National Security? Just because
    I use technology to communicate doesn't mean I subrogate my rights to keeping those communications confidential unless I decide to make them public. Yes, the Internet is public but what I have on my computer
    is private. If they have a suspicion of illegal activity, get a warrant, make the case in front of a judge and then and only then can they do these things.

    Frankly, I think I'll be like Johnny Depp and get my own Fuck Off Island if these damn so-called security experts keep pushing our Privacy into the trash.

    • by Pojut ( 1027544 )

      While I agree with your overall message, if you have sensitive stuff you don't want the government (or anyone else, for that matter) finding out, keep it on a system that doesn't have access to the Internet. Transfer stuff to it via external hard drives, an ad-hoc connection, or flash drives.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      • Sure, I can do that and use sneaker net. But let's say I send a GMail to my wife and we're having marital problems. We're not, but let's just pretend.

        GMail is using HTTPS but some nice guy at the FBI says "Humm, I wanna look at this he may be a terrorist!"

        He then intercepts the traffic from My PC to the GMail servers. Then he leverages those nice big computers at the NSA and decrypts my message. Where does it go? Does it go into a file on me? My Wife? When does it disappear? When I'm 90 is somebody

        • by blueg3 ( 192743 )

          He'd need a wiretap to intercept it, not an NSL. At that rate, it'd be easier to obtain a subpoena to get the information directly from GMail. That way it won't tie up the imaginary computers at the NSA that can decrypt everything.

        • people seem to think that the NSA needs supercomputers to crack your encrypted connections.

          Why bother when they can just sent a nice polite letter to google(or any other company) telling them to hand over their private key(and also forbidding google from telling anyone about it).

          then they can intercept and snoop anything they like.

      • eat it, burn it, or flush it after memorizing it

        oh wait, I forgot, they will soon be able to read your thoughts by analysing neuro-electric activity,
        at least enough to be sure you're hiding something, at which point, it's the rubber mallets.

    • This is way beyond privacy - after all, how do they get your web browsing history? Not from your provider, they don't log every DNS request, but by breaking into your home and cloning your hard drive.
      • by jridley ( 9305 )

        Actually it's apparently not difficult to get your browser to reveal your browsing history. Most browsers are going to fix that in the next major release, but it's still no guarantee there won't be another way.

        Also, logging DNS isn't good enough anyway - that doesn't really reveal history, only sites, and then only that something referenced them - could have been an embedded ad or anything. What they'd have to log would be HTTP requests.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by blueg3 ( 192743 )

        No, as TFAs clearly cover, this applies only to obtaining records from your ISP.

    • by blueg3 ( 192743 )

      They can't snoop on your traffic with an NSL unless your ISP is recording your network traffic. Nor can they access what is on your computer. An NSL only enables them to obtain records from your ISP (subscriber information, toll billing records, ISP login records, and electronic communication transaction records). It's not a wiretap, nor is it a warrant that gives them access to information stored on your property.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 29, 2010 @10:10AM (#33068554)

    Power cannot and will not be compartmentalized. A government that has the ability to give you everything you ever wanted also, by the simple reality of power, has the ability to take everything you ever had.

    Do not ignore the big picture. A government should not only be measured by individual laws and mandates, but as a single entity in reference to its power over the people. In other words, the reason the FBI is able to enact this form of oppression is because government is big enough.

  • by alexo ( 9335 ) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @10:12AM (#33068580) Journal

    Things that can be abused, will be abused.

    This is especially true when people working for law enforcement agencies have a sense of entitlement and no real accountability for their actions. There's a reason for warrants.

  • by realsilly ( 186931 ) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @10:12AM (#33068584)

    .... but this, along with a lot of changes made with the last few adminstrations is getting ridiculous. Why must those of us who are law abiding put up with our civil liberties being stripped away piece by layered piece until we are truly in Orwell's "1984". I know that the reason that is being touted is to help the FBI and other agencies catch those would mean to cause harm upon us, but this is not the right way to go about this.

    To counter the arguement "If you've done nothing wrong, you've got nothing to hide", I have done nothing wrong and I simply would like to continue to have my privacy that is part of my civil liberties. Just because someone does no wrong doesn't mean they wish to be an open book.

    I prefer my habits via driving, phoning, texting, or web surfing to be my business, not yours or anyone else's.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Bodhammer ( 559311 )
      Terrorism is the pointy end of fascism.
      "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety deserve neither Liberty nor Safety" - Benjamin Franklin.
    • by Ashriel ( 1457949 ) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @12:54PM (#33071250)

      I seriously doubt that you've done nothing wrong. The USC has over a million pages of laws: it's gotten to the point where our law-makers and law-enforcers themselves are no longer aware of all of the possible ways to break the law. And it's because of this volume that it has become impossible to live a day-to-day existence in the US without breaking some law or another.

      Here's a great example:

      16 USC 3370 (summary)
      It is unlawful for any person to import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire, possess, or purchase any fish, wildlife, or plant taken, possessed, transported, or sold in violation of any Federal, State, foreign, or Indian tribal law, treaty, or regulation

      That's a quick summary of the Lacey Act, for those who aren't already familiar with this very broad federal regulation.

      There are many such overbroad laws like these in the USC, this just happens to be one of the most famous. With laws like these on the books, it's hard to avoid breaking the law. According the Lacey Act, it's at least a $10,000 fine to possess a lobster under 10.5 inches anywhere in the US; coupled with the Conspiracy Act, it's a federal felony to plan possession of a lobster under 10.5 inches with at least one other person. I don't know if you've ever had a small lobster, but there's a good chance you've managed to break the law somewhere in the world with regards to animals or plants, and that's all it takes.

      My point here is that the intention of the authorities isn't to "catch the bad guys", it's to manufacture them. Everyone is guilty of something, the feds just need broader, more invasive access to discover what that something is.

  • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @10:19AM (#33068662) Homepage

    ...not vile corporations. They have your best interests at heart. The infallible, incorruptible regulators must have information to do their job of protecting you from the evil businessmen (and, of course, from yourself). Just cooperate and no one will get hurt.

  • by presidenteloco ( 659168 ) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @10:22AM (#33068700)

    Here are some awkward related questions:

    1. What do you think the US government's encryption-breaking capability REALLY is these days? e.g. for example,
    are common encryption protocols and key-lengths used in, say, online banking and e-commerce readily crackable by the Feds?

    2. Do security agencies of the federal government automatically flag for further investigation all people who use "an excess
    amount of encrypted traffic"?

    3. Does the FBI, a "domestic" intelligence agency, have the right to spy on foreign residents whose net transactions
    traverse the US border? If they don't have the right, are they doing it anyway, or is that some other agency?

    • by batquux ( 323697 )

      1. No comment.

      2. No comment.

      3. No comment.

    • 1. What do you think the US government's encryption-breaking capability REALLY is these days? e.g. for example,
      are common encryption protocols and key-lengths used in, say, online banking and e-commerce readily crackable by the Feds?

      Well considering the number of poorly-configured servers that still negotiate RC4, probably a good bit. (Tip: get CipherFox or otherwise remove that cipher from the list of acceptable ones.)

      As far as block ciphers go: AES-128 is probably well past the point where it's easier to just torture the person than it is to break the key. 3DES I'm not so sure, as it is a much older cipher, but I wouldn't be surprised if the same were true for it.

      For public key: Do security agencies of the federal government automa

    • There are too many people who use SSH to flag them all, so they've decided to narrow it down to those who ask awkward questions about encryption.

      Yes, you are now on the list. I can't tell you what list. Enjoy your stay. :)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 29, 2010 @10:29AM (#33068806)

    Politicians say whatever it takes to get into power, then they do what they wanted to do all along - until 6 months before the next election when they change tune just long enough to get a forgetful electorate to vote them in for another four years. And you fall for it every time. Sucker.

    It doesn't matter whether you vote Republican, Democrat, Labour or Conservative (in the UK), you will get much the same thing.

    If you want change, vote for another party or become a politician yourself. Failing that, you are wasting your time.

  • Who's internet identity will they get?

  • I suspect what he is asking for has been and is happening currently. They know it is illegal and they do it anyway and are pushing for this to retroactively cover their asses.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 29, 2010 @10:36AM (#33068920)

    EVERYTHING is intercepted [].

    Yours In Akademgorodok,
    Kilgore Trout

  • FUD (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cosm ( 1072588 ) <> on Thursday July 29, 2010 @10:40AM (#33068964)
    From the NSA link:

    In the post 9/11 world, the National Security Letter is an indispensable tool and building block of an investigation that contributes significantly to the FBI’s ability to carry out its national security responsibilities by directly supporting the furtherance of the counterterrorism, counterintelligence and intelligence missions.

    Don't you just love that "In the post 9/11 world" bit? They use that qualifier for everything that infringes on privacy. Its the "Think of the children" of the Military Industrial Complex. Yes there are bad people. Yes there are folks that want to do bad things. But again, trading privacy, and hence freedom, for security, well you know the rest.

    • by cosm ( 1072588 )
      *NSL* I meant, but eventually the alphabet soup [] of organizations and what-have-you boggles the mind. NSA, FBI, CJIS, NCIC, DOD, CIA, etc..etc...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by autocracy ( 192714 )

      In this post-Reichstag world... (Soviet Russia secures YOU?)

    • by Greyfox ( 87712 )
      If we destroy everything that America stands for to fight the terrorists, haven't the terrorists already won?

      Various law enforcement agencies have a history of doing what they want until they get caught at it. You don't really hear about that in school. You don't hear a lot about the assorted shenanigans of the past in school, really. It can be somewhat jarring when you get out and you realize that our ideals aren't as clear cut in practice as they are in theory. Problem is the government and the law enfo

  • "I have to erase some stuff. A lot of stuff."
  • Terrorists! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LordSkout ( 1427763 ) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @10:54AM (#33069188)

    It seems to me that this is just moving further in the FBI's renewed interest under Obama to go after file-sharers without the need of the courts prove their need. Everybody knows file-sharers are terrorists in disguise, anyway.

    ACTA is failing on a worldwide scale, so why not make sure they can move forward in other - easier - ways?

  • by MrTripps ( 1306469 ) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @10:56AM (#33069234)
    Stuff like this is why I joined the Electronic Frontier Foundation: []
  • I feel safer already!

  • That reminds me that I need to pay my bill from [] for my VPN connection.
  • Why is the National Soccer League being used as a way to track people now? Did the FBI lose a bet or two on the World Cup and they're just pissing in everyone's pool now? What has this world come to? I dream of a place where young black boys and girls and young white boys and girls can play soccer together and go home and tweet about it and say to each other: Thank God Almighty our internet is free at last, Free AT LAST.

    Or in this Obama world I'd like to think that his misdirections could be less obvious
  • Maybe I'm just a cynical person...well, there's no maybe about that...but I never thought the FBI or any arm of the government would stop to get a warrant for anything if they wanted it badly enough. I don't think 'little pieces of paper' will be a prevention when somebody on the inside needs something badly enough, and I think if people think otherwise they are being naive.

    I once spoke to an IRS employee who worked with the bureau in the 80's and he said the IRS could get anything it wanted, and that part

  • by sgt scrub ( 869860 ) < minus punct> on Thursday July 29, 2010 @02:56PM (#33073854)

    they wouldn't get much from my isp. i run linux from scratch on a vm with darknet because i don't like how my isp tries to dictate the dns server i use. a clear and obvious sign they glean info from user habits to sell to marketing firms. as far as data security goes the file system is loop-aes. i guess if i wanted to be paranoid i could point my cache to /dev/null. there is a howto for a tor based vm on encrypted file system that is a lot like my environment here: []

You know, Callahan's is a peaceable bar, but if you ask that dog what his favorite formatter is, and he says "roff! roff!", well, I'll just have to...