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Government Privacy

Innocent Or Not, the NSA Is Watching You 410

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Wired: "Under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, the blandly named Utah Data Center is being built for the National Security Agency. A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world's communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks. The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013. Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails — parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital 'pocket litter.' It is, in some measure, the realization of the 'total information awareness' program created during the first term of the Bush administration — an effort that was killed by Congress in 2003 after it caused an outcry over its potential for invading Americans' privacy."
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Innocent Or Not, the NSA Is Watching You

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  • End the USA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 08, 2012 @02:54PM (#39613525)

    It's time for the revolution. Kill the pigs in charge.

    • by Cyberblah ( 140887 ) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @03:34PM (#39613691) Homepage

      Oh, you're so getting on the NSA's list for that.

      • I'm sure you get on their list simply by posting in a subversive thread like this.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Cyberblah ( 140887 )

          I'm sure you get on their list simply by posting in a subversive thread like this.

          Yeah. I didn't bother posting anonymously, because I doubt it makes a difference at this point.

          • "Yeah. I didn't bother posting anonymously, because I doubt it makes a difference at this point."

            We don't have much time before the internet could just be used as a tool for a widespread crackdown. As Bucky Fuller said, whether it will be Utopia or Oblivion will be a touch-and-go relay race to the very end.

            As I suggest here, the most viable strategy at this point is probably just communicating in the clear about making this a better world for everyone with an intent to help these various agencies eavesdropp

      • Wow. That was my first thought too. I tell my son all the time that this is not the country I was born into. I was a child in the 1940s. We did have the most free country in the world then. Then again 100% of the problems of the United States and the world can be summed up in four words. The root cause of ALL the world's problems is... Too Damned Many People!

    • by cheekyboy ( 598084 ) on Monday April 09, 2012 @12:57AM (#39616507) Homepage Journal

      Well, lets fill their data center up.

      If everyone uses their free allocated bandwidth to send 1000000000000 billion random bytes to the ISP, or ;yourself;, then they have to log those contents.


      Send 1 byte per TCP packet, 1 per 48 bytes.

      Send it to .... out your adsl to the NSA gateway.

      So even if your ISP sees you sent 100MEG, its 4800MEG wasted space on NSA.

      And if its 100% pure random, ie /dev/random and xor it with some other random data, just mix 10 algos together.

      Now X that by 100 m screen savers, and watch their datacenter go empty, or they have to filter out pure random crap.

      We must look the evil monster in the eye, and say, Fuck you mother fucker, you might have the dollars and cia behind you, but we have 100x more humans that can go crazy wild on you.

      There IS NO ENEMY, other than the govt itself.

      • While a valid plan, it would fail to be as effective as intended and require more than a simple "cat /dev/random | " type shell script.

        Firstly: The kinds of systems they use would be easily able to distinguish between 'garbage' and 'lint' by session analysis. Lint is trivial stuff created by everyday session connections with a start and an end. A constant stream of random data even if encapsulated properly into packets would be about as hard to pick out as a continuous ping. You would either need a network

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 08, 2012 @02:55PM (#39613527)
    There are no innocent citizens in the modern police state.
  • Innocent? (Score:5, Informative)

    by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @02:55PM (#39613535) Homepage

    Nobody's innocent anymore. There is too much information flowing about - we're all guilty of something. Even if you don't quite no what it is - it's not important. You're just guilty of something so it's important that somebody keep tags on you.

    Just in case.

    • by jhoegl ( 638955 ) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @03:02PM (#39613553)
      I find you guilty of terrible grammar.
      It is know, not "no". Send him to the gallows!
    • Re:Innocent? (Score:5, Informative)

      by DataDiddler ( 1994180 ) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @03:03PM (#39613561)
      That's more right than you think. One author claims that the average citizen commits three felonies a day without knowing it (due to the byzantine legal code which can be interpreted any number of ways): Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent [amazon.com]. It's an interesting read if you're into that sort of thing.
      • In secular governments, where you can't use the concept of sin / haraam to control people, the only alternative is to make everyone a criminal. You may not feel guilty and afraid of the divine punishment, but you will be afraid of your child downloading an mp3 and your family being financially screwed for the rest of your life.

      • Re:Innocent? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Dogtanian ( 588974 ) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @03:48PM (#39613745) Homepage

        Nobody's innocent anymore. There is too much information flowing about - we're all guilty of something. Even if you don't quite no what it is - it's not important. You're just guilty of something so it's important that somebody keep tags on you. Just in case.

        That's more right than you think. One author claims that the average citizen commits three felonies a day without knowing it (due to the byzantine legal code which can be interpreted any number of ways): Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent [amazon.com]. It's an interesting read if you're into that sort of thing.

        While it's probably true that the majority of such cases weren't intentional on the part of those who originally drafted the laws (maybe I'm being naive there), it's certainly true to say that as a rule it's more beneficial for those who value power *not* to have the average citizen be 100% perfect and law-abiding, as knowledge of lawbreaking gives them a legitimised form of pressure and control over them that they can exert if need be.

        Clearly, they won't punish the majority of such infractions- and really don't care about them in themselves- but the potential to be able to do so is the main thing.

        This alone is one (but not the only) reason that those who say that "those who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear" (i.e. "law abiding citizens") as justification for government surveillance and intrusion are either exceptionally stupid or exceptionally disingenuous.

        Life in any country where every transgression of the law was punished would be absolutely impossible and break down quickly. Of course, that would be assuming "good faith" use of the information that let us know this- as I said above, in practice, it would be more beneficial to those in power to simply accumulate knowledge of such offenses and use it against those it deemed most problematic.

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

        by Aighearach ( 97333 ) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @04:17PM (#39613913) Homepage

        One reviewer wrote,

        "With such a provocative title, I expected a thorough list of ways that ordinary citizens can be unwittingly trapped by federal law. Maybe a handful of frightening anecdotes, maybe some telling historical analysis.

        Instead, after two lengthy introductions, I find a dense chapter defending ... a Florida politician accused of corruption. And a Massachusetts governor. And a Massachusetts House speaker. When I got to the chapter defending Michael Milken I started skimming instead of reading."

    • Re:Innocent? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Coeurderoy ( 717228 ) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @03:10PM (#39613601)

      At least a member of your family is probably guilty of:
      - downloading something
      - using prohibited agricultural products
      - and if less than 21 and living in the US, using other also prohibited agricultural liquids.

        And that's just for starters...

          And the real "looser" in this equation, is that disconnect between law and ethics...
          how can a parent educate their children when many laws prohibits actions that are hard to describe as unethical, and
          many unethical actions are totally legal.

          And if you have enough power, you can make illegal actions legal in your special case...

              The right wing is pushing the morals out of the window... (and I'm not speaking of the operating system....)

      • Re:Innocent? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @04:07PM (#39613869)
        Ever collected rain to water your garden? That's illegal in some US states.
        • Re:Innocent? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by jklovanc ( 1603149 ) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @04:46PM (#39614027)

          This seems like a no brainer on the surface; if water falls on you land it belongs to you. These laws were written before people used personal large scale rain collection. Take a look a little deeper and see what the laws are there to prevent. It is about water rights. In areas where water is precious, like Arizona, water is allocated to different people in different quantities. What would happen if everyone who owned land in a catch basin collected all the water that would normally flow into the local rivers? The rivers would dry up which would mean that fish, land animals, farms and people downriver would get no water. That is the main reason rainwater collection is illegal in several states. Rainwater is a resource to be shared and not hoarded. Some of these laws are being changed to allow small scale (rain barrel size) collection but it takes time to catch up.

      • There are at least two sets of people in the world;
        1. The "keep your hands off" people who want minimal regulations and want to rely on their own intelligence for survival.
        2. The "you didn't tell me" people who will blame government for not properly regulating industry and all owing bad thing to happen. They are the one that say things like "It didn't say I couldn't use that cancer causing agricultural product so the company is a fault and I will sue the company and the regulators".

        You seem to miss the big

    • Re:Innocent? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 08, 2012 @03:27PM (#39613661)

      "Give me six lines written by the most honest man, and I will find something there to hang him."

      The idea's not new. It's just that the period of social democracy in Europe and liberal democracy in America has come to an end, and the West is creeping back to an imperialist Britain of the nineteenth century with some more equal than others under the law. Once we've crept back another 200 years, of course, the very technology we created to liberate ourselves will be used to stop us before we think of setting a foot wrong.

      And we'll applaud, just as we'll always applaud our destruction. Some of us will applaud it because we have stuck a "free market" label on it and have faith that it'll all work out; others will applaud it because we have stuck a "communist" label on it and feel assured that nothing can go wrong; so it is for "Jesus", "Mohammed" and every religion in between. Just occasionally, someone will stand up and ask what effect something has on the people living right now - but those people are dismissed by rulers who no longer have to live in the real world, cheerled by those useful idiots who aspire to leave it too.

      • by IICV ( 652597 )

        Good grief, that's not what the quote means. Richelieu had a team of expert forgers - the six lines were a handwriting sample, that would be used to produce a false confession (generally of dealings with the devil).

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

      by Gonoff ( 88518 ) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @03:49PM (#39613749)

      "Give me six lines written by the most honorable of men, and I will find an excuse in them to hang him."
      Cardinal Richelieu

  • That is Because (Score:4, Interesting)

    by walkerp1 ( 523460 ) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @02:58PM (#39613543)
    Privacy is evil, crypto is terrorism, stenography is child porn, and you are public enemy number 1.
  • by Coeurderoy ( 717228 ) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @03:02PM (#39613549)

    The increase of backup capacity, and computing capacity makes the dream or nightmare of searching through the internet a reality.
    Anybody being connected to anybody in a rather short chain of relations it's obvious that we are all at some level "persons of interest".

    If you are a "bad guy" you are obviously "fair game", if you know the bad guy, you are reasonably suspect, if you know somebody who knows the bad guy, you might be needed to understand if you are not part of the support group of the bad guy.
    Two level more of indirection and the whole humanity is in the dragnet.
    No unfortunately there is not one unique "bad guy", so the probability of being more than N+2..N+3 of any bad guy is really low, even if you are a retired nun. (actually, in practice not such a good example).

    So anybody can with some justification be "looked at", so it seems that the only way to alleviate the issue is to over broadcast everything, and hoping that the weighting algorithm finds you booring...

    Guess it's too boring for me, I'll have to fish for friends in high places, ... so it's back to the "old regime" (as in before Louis Capet got his headache cured, actually not really fair for the guy, and the change where far from smooth, ... but somehow the end of privileges seemed a good idea, and now seems an idea whose time is past ....)

    Sic transit gloria mundi...

    • I see this increase in serverspace as a challenge for spammers to up their output.
      Maybe we should all help them out a bit with some random noise?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    What became of it? I mean, did it have any effect? Where is it now? Did anybody lose their job over this? Any elected officials lose their seats? So far the only ones that did were voted out. Bunch of hogwash! Most of the voters want this, and more.

    In Soviet Amerika the fascist is YOU!

  • by mycroft16 ( 848585 ) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @03:04PM (#39613573)
    I love that the magazine cover says "Deep in the Utah desert." It isn't. It is literally in the middle of the city growth centers. I've been watching them build this since they broke ground. It is a mere 15 minute drive from my house and I live in suburbia. The center sits less than 1 mile off I-15 between Salt Lake City and Utah County. BYU is 30 minutes away from it. There is a water park 10 minutes up the road. They aren't hiding this thing at all. It is in plain sight. It sits up on the side of the hill across the Jordan river valley. And yes, it is freaking massive.
    • you sure that's where they are keeping 'the data' ?


      • by mycroft16 ( 848585 ) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @03:09PM (#39613597)
        Yup. It is located about 2 miles from the Army's main translation headquarters and it sits on Camp Williams Army base as well. Everyone here knows exactly what it is, though maybe not what is going into it exactly. No secret that it is the NSA's facility though. They had a big ground breaking for it with the Governor, Senator Hatch was there. News interviews. Yeah, that is it.
        • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @03:28PM (#39613669)

          you're not getting what I'm saying, are you?

          there's no one here would could talk about it, with any direct knowledge AND be authorized to accurately tell what is going on and where.

          what did you see? a building being made. and you jump to conclusions based on what? disinformation that comes from those that want to keep us all in the dark?

          for all we know, this has been built and working and is in some other remote location and has been for 5 years now. for all we know!

          why is this hard for you to understand?

          you see some building built, the MEDIA report what they are told and you believe what they say? about such matters, especially?

          today, I assume 100% of the info we get is 'managed'. I don't trust a thing that comes from 'established' sources. why should I?

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by mycroft16 ( 848585 )
            I'm getting a bit of a conspiracy theory vibe here. They have no reason to keep this place a secret. In fact it is in their best interests to not keep it a secret. It's why they sailed nuclear submarines out of harbors on the surface. It was important for the enemy to know that the thing set sail and then it disappeared. It's important for the existence of this facility to exist as well as its purpose. As to what it is, the power consumption is a very large indicator. Those numbers are not made up by manag
          • by dwillden ( 521345 ) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @03:49PM (#39613757) Homepage
            Don't be an idiot. It's not "just a building" It's a massive complex of big buildings with very thick walls. And armed 24 hour security that even harasses locals watching deer herds in the area (as they've been doing for years). There is no other construction project anywhere near this size anywhere else in the state. I too live and work close to it, and there is no doubt as to what is being built. You simply do not understand the scale of what we are talking about.

            Further the Wired account includes illustrations from the Army Corps of Engineers giving the layout (some buildings identified, others not) and it matches every other source of info.

            You are taking your paranoia too far. Yes this is a massive NSA Data (and who knows what else) center. It will very likely infringe upon at least a few citizens civil liberties. But there is no question that it is what it is, and that is where it is being built. Something this scale couldn't be easily hidden anyway. It's power requirements are too big to hide in the desert. They had to build a power substation off the main high tension lines just for this facility.

            On another note, why did it take this long to hit /.? The article hit the web nearly a month ago, I got my physical copy of wired with the article nearly two weeks ago.
    • Perchance is there a volcano spewing lava with a big round eye at the top anywhere in the vicinity?

    • Maybe they were using 'Utah' and 'the desert' synonymously.

  • by mycroft16 ( 848585 ) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @03:11PM (#39613603)
    For those interested, here is a google map of the location they are building this. http://maps.google.com/maps?q=40.430485,-111.934547&num=1&t=h&z=14 [google.com]
  • by mrbester ( 200927 ) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @03:11PM (#39613607) Homepage
    At least I don't have to back up my data anymore. Restoring it might be a problem...
  • I fell so nice and fuzzy-warm and, and, yes LOVED to be so secure from the ravages of the those others that wish to do us harm.

    • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *
      Yep, it's like their jealous of your freedom and will change your way of life if you let them, or something.
  • Conflicted (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BlueStrat ( 756137 )

    Many of the same people who are most angered and most vocally oppose such blatant 1984 style mass surveillance are the same ones that consistently vote and rally for more and bigger government, and support the politicians who favor a bigger/more-powerful government.

    Yet, they don't see a conflict. They don't seem to understand that when you make a government large and powerful enough to provide all these social programs, entitlements, and levels of regulation, this is what happens. Politicians, being the typ

    • Re:Conflicted (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 08, 2012 @03:22PM (#39613647)

      Right, because unchecked corporate rule would never oppress the citizenry. Stop conflating social programs with police states, it just shows your political naivete.

    • Re:Conflicted (Score:4, Insightful)

      by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @03:31PM (#39613677)

      binary-thinking, much?

      you CAN have both, in the right ways and when designed not to walk all over our assumed basic human rights.

      "its A or B. choose!"


      life is rarely so binary. life is FULL of grey levels.

    • Re:Conflicted (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mrnobo1024 ( 464702 ) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @03:34PM (#39613693)

      From the summary:

      It is, in some measure, the realization of the 'total information awareness' program created during the first term of the Bush administration

      Your "small-government" Republicans are just as much on board with this as the "big-government" Democrats.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mosb1000 ( 710161 )

        Small government republicans are a myth.

      • Your "small-government" Republicans are just as much on board with this as the "big-government" Democrats.

        "My" Republicans!?!?

        Are you freaking kidding me!?!?

        I hated Bush's and the Republican's freedom-killing actions just as much as I hate those carried out by those with a "D" after their names.

        Mainstream political parties are meaningless. It's the actions taken, not the party. I think they all should all be taken out and hung from the nearest tree.

        Wake up! Stop buying into their political distractions.


    • by sjames ( 1099 )

      So who exactly are the small government types? We have big government with social programs and a lot of corporate welfare, or few social programs, lots of corporate welfare and no taxes for the rich. Bringing up the rear, we have the practically no government party with no social programs, free reign to the corporatations and few taxes.

      There doesn't seem to be a small but existent government party.

      As for potential choices, you left out the entire quadrant of the graph where we have a social safety net but n

    • I'm sure that having discovered the Secret Conflict at the Heart of the Liberal Agenda is fun and all; but you'll note that the expansions of fun surveillance technology, the making-legal of their use, and the creation and expansion of the entities in charge of them all occur under a "national defense" guise and in the aftermath of assorted defense-related incidents, from the Alien and Sedition acts to the present day.

      You'll note that this is an NSA(formed during WWII, post Pearl Harbor) facility being b
  • by beltsbear ( 2489652 ) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @03:22PM (#39613649)
    A young libertarian is brought into a command center....... As you can see, my young apprentice, your friends have failed. Now witness the listening power of this fully OPERATIONAL listening station!
    • Nope, well over a year to go, as anyone who drives by the site on a daily basis can tell you. Those buildings are far from complete.
  • by jcr ( 53032 ) <jcr@@@mac...com> on Sunday April 08, 2012 @03:39PM (#39613715) Journal

    Printed on the toilet paper in all of the restrooms.


  • by Alain Williams ( 2972 ) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Sunday April 08, 2012 @03:45PM (#39613727) Homepage

    In these days of austerity - who approved the budget for this and prioritised it over building something more useful like a hospital ? Or is that classified information ?

    Anyway: now that they have it - I propose that we give them something to put in it, how about we start mailing each other 1MB chunks from /dev/random as attachments named things like HowToMakeABomb and pgp encrypted ?

    • by fnj ( 64210 )

      For questioning your masters - you are hereby sentenced to ... to ... live in this HELL your masters have made of your country.

  • Disturbing. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GmExtremacy ( 2579091 ) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @03:54PM (#39613783)

    I've come across a frighteningly high number of individuals who have a "nothing to hide nothing to fear" mindset. They support things like the Patriot Act without even thinking about.

    Very, very disturbing. I really hope they're the minority.

  • by Pf0tzenpfritz ( 1402005 ) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @04:11PM (#39613887) Journal
    The US is building a vast system of paranoid security to protect... its vast security systems. Soon there will be nothing of much significance left but the military and its contractors. Then they might find out that they can't survive as a pure self-serving system. The shame is that they won't see until it's too late, stupid and arrogant as the military is (no matter which one), exercising their pompous and useless traditions, weaving flags and shooting in the air. Mankind should have known better since the first industrial war (WW1), but governments and systems have come and gone since then, the steel and cannon barons, however, have been staying in charge almost erverywhere...
  • by gelfling ( 6534 ) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @04:31PM (#39613971) Homepage Journal

    The NRO (National Reconnaissance Office) an agency so far in the black the government did not admit it or any of its massive budget so much as existed until 1995 or so, has a massive campus on the main drag in Chantilly, VA and right there on the main gate and over the front door are big signs that say National Reconnaissance Office). Of course the forest of dish antennas on the roof should tell you something, but the fact is that the government really doesn't have play these black box spy games anymore. Because there's little anyone or any government can do about it, whatever it is. Often things are secret because they need to be secret. But often they're secret because that's just what the government does - labels things secret.

    • by chill ( 34294 )

      Heh. I commuted to work for a couple months with a guy who works in the NRO office down by the Navy Yard in DC.

      What they do is well known now. They oversee and manage our spy satellite program and are part of the Dept. of Defense -- like the NSA.

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @05:34PM (#39614273)

    OK, NSA. Which finger am I holding up?

  • by Kaenneth ( 82978 ) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @06:55PM (#39614645) Homepage Journal

    Why build a datacenter in a desert? (I know, pork...) the cooling bills will be much higher than if they built it in, say, Detroit, or some other northern city...

    • by kwalker ( 1383 )

      How many military bases are there in Detroit? This one is being built on a National Guard base very near several major thru-ways for the Internet (Both Salt Lake and Provo have multiple, very wide, very fast feeds to plenty of spots all over the country). And yeah it's "desert" but it's only really hot during the height of summer. The other three seasons it's much more mild weather-wise.

    • by kaoshin ( 110328 ) on Monday April 09, 2012 @03:37AM (#39616911)
      Evaporative cooling in a dry environment like the desert is actually a cheaper and more efficient method of cooling a data center. Outside temp doesn't matter so much.
  • by superdave80 ( 1226592 ) on Monday April 09, 2012 @02:01AM (#39616709)
    I so with McCain hadn't beaten Obama in the last election. I'm sure he would have stopped a project like this!

Competence, like truth, beauty, and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder. -- Dr. Laurence J. Peter