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Government Communications Privacy

Real-Time Gmail Spying a 'Top Priority' For FBI This Year 283

Fnord666 sends this quote from an article at Slate: "Despite the pervasiveness of law enforcement surveillance of digital communication, the FBI still has a difficult time monitoring Gmail, Google Voice, and Dropbox in real time. But that may change soon, because the bureau says it has made gaining more powers to wiretap all forms of Internet conversation and cloud storage a 'top priority' this year. ... a 1994 surveillance law called the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act only allows the government to force Internet providers and phone companies to install surveillance equipment within their networks. But it doesn't cover email, cloud services, or online chat providers like Skype. Weissmann said that the FBI wants the power to mandate real-time surveillance of everything from Dropbox and online games ('the chat feature in Scrabble') to Gmail and Google Voice. 'Those communications are being used for criminal conversations,' he said."
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Real-Time Gmail Spying a 'Top Priority' For FBI This Year

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  • by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @12:17AM (#43288231)
    Seems we could write a simple gTalk/gMail client that just sent random chatter back and forth. Get enough of them going and it would be near impossible to filter out the noise.
  • Its things like this (Score:4, Interesting)

    by toygeek ( 473120 ) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @12:20AM (#43288249) Homepage Journal

    That cause me to consider bringing email back home. I switched to gmail several years ago because running a mail server was just too much of a pain in the neck. Then again, maybe running my own smtp/pop server would make it easier to be eavesdropped on by the FBI and their ilk.

  • They already have it (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @12:43AM (#43288333)

    Rest assured- the NSA is already slurping unthinkable amounts of Internet traffic, and storing the results on various shadow-Google installations (massive database and search engine facilities using Google's hardware and software designs). What is happening here is that the FBI (and other public facing enforcement agencies) want to use such data openly in court. To do this, they have to pretend the intelligence gathering is not already happening (and has been for more than a decade), and will be implemented in the near future- 'legal' and above board.

    Most of how the ordinary citizen is tracked is a national secret. For instance, almost no-one knows the extent to which motor vehicles are monitored by reading the RFID tags present in the rubber of the tires. Instead, the government works hard to make you think most tracking is done by (very visible) camera networks. The under-road RFID reading strips are 'invisible', and vastly more reliable and cheaper than the cameras. The cameras are mostly used to associate a license plate and/or vehicle image with the RFID 'fingerprint'.

    The more data the state can grab about the sheeple, the more data it wants to grab. In the early part of the 20th century, there was a reluctance to create or properly fund 'intelligence' agencies, because it was found such agencies always grew like a cancer, and never recognised lines they would not cross. After WW2, with the rise of the cold war, all sides threw caution to the wind, and began this '1984' style nightmare. Before the age of the microprocessor, tech limitations prevented the 'tumors' from growing beyond a certain size. Now the amoral psychopaths these agencies employ desire all of us be placed under 24 hour surveillance.

    Only new societal rules can now save us. An addition to the constitution, or a new Commandment. "Thou shall not pre-emptively spy upon a citizen for any reason or cause."

    You will be told (by the monsters) that if you are innocent, you have nothing to fear, or a (massive) loss of privacy is a small price to pay for (maybe) improved law enforcement. Ordinary people (especially after schooling) are easily fooled by such arguments. The same ordinary people only finally appreciate the danger when everything goes wrong (you end up in a nation ruled by the Soviets or Nazis, for instance). People in ex-Nazi ruled, and then ex-Soviet ruled nations love to vote in freedom loving, privacy respecting governments- at least until they forget again (see Holland for a sad example of this phenomenon).

  • In the other hand (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gmuslera ( 3436 ) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @12:52AM (#43288365) Homepage Journal
    Mail encrypting should be a top priority to world population. "Those communications are being intercepted by criminal government agencies,' we say.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @01:00AM (#43288401)

    You forgot the means of communication designed specifically to legally exchange criminal conversations and items - the diplomatic mail.

  • by anagama ( 611277 ) <> on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @01:12AM (#43288455) Homepage

    I thought the first paragraph was interesting. Then I thought the second paragraph sounded foilhatty. Then I googled "rfid tires" and the first article is almost a decade old: []

    Michelin hopes manufacturers will pay a little more for tires with RFID transponders, because it makes the tires easier to track. The microchip stores the tire's unique ID, which can be associated with the vehicle identification number.

    And more recently: []

    For the moment, the technology will be used solely to track tire usage in Moto2 and Moto3. Tiny RFID chips will be built into the official Dunlop tires during the manufacturing process, each programmed with a unique identifying code.
    Sensors in pit lane (shown in the photo here on the Dunlop website) will monitor when each tire leaves pit lane, and when they return. Using the database which maps which tires have been allocated to which riders, Dunlop can keep precise track of which tires have been used when, and for how long.

    Anyway, it still feels a bit on the hatter side to think the government is currently monitoring who has what tires, but it is definitely something I could see it becoming interested in and something that could actually be done.

  • Skype (Score:5, Interesting)

    by snowtigger ( 204757 ) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @01:21AM (#43288489) Homepage

    It's hardly surprising that Skype isn't mentioned. It's widely believed that there are already backdoors in Skype. Skype has "declined to confirm" that there are no backdoors.

    From the Wikipedia Skype Security article []

    Security researchers Biondi and Desclaux have speculated that Skype may have a back door, since Skype sends traffic even when it is turned off and because Skype has taken extreme measures to obfuscate their traffic and functioning of their program.[26] Several media sources have reported that at a meeting about the "Lawful interception of IP based services" held on 25 June 2008, high-ranking but not named officials at the Austrian interior ministry said that they could listen in on Skype conversations without problems. Austrian public broadcasting service ORF, citing minutes from the meeting, have reported that "the Austrian police are able to listen in on Skype connections".[27][28] Skype declined to comment on the reports.[29]

  • by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @01:30AM (#43288517) Journal

    Ever heard of the right to be left alone?

    Yes, it's the title of an excellent documentry about Larry Flynt.

  • by MiG82au ( 2594721 ) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @02:27AM (#43288737)
    WTF, have none of you heard of OTR (Off The Record) IM encryption? You can't use it through the gmail interface, but you can use Google's IM network (which uses the jabber protocol) with third party IM clients which support OTR. What passes through Google's servers is then encrypted gibberish.

    And you should not be using this just when you want to have a secret conversation; you use it all the time so that anybody snooping understands that you disagree with the principle of snooping, even when you have nothing to hide.

  • by Ramley ( 1168049 ) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @09:29AM (#43290857)
    This is Slashdot which has a deep user base of highly skilled technical talent, hates what's happening to the Internet (etc.) via the U.S. Government (etc.), and collectively has the ability to do something about it.

    Personally, I often find myself reading articles like this, and becoming very frustrated about it to say the least. The older I get, the more I have seen the encroaching government rules/laws/lack thereof which basically invalidates some of the most important parts of the Constitution. It's gone waaaaayyyy too far at this point, don't you think?

    All of this has to be somewhat obvious and common in terms of how you feel when you read this. I don't think I am in the minority here, but I might be crazy.

    With the long-winded intro above... there must be something we can do as a collective. There are a lot of great minds here, and a lot of talent which can out-think, and out-perform anything the government can come up with without breaking laws.

    What we're lacking is organization, and a plan to do something about it. That could be anything from making sure the world knows what's happening, to creating secure means of communication, to outing politicians, and getting the media involved, to a lot of things we haven't thought of.

    I'm ready for the neigh-Sayers, and the "it won't happen because...", but doing something is a lot better than watching this all happen and feeling helpless.

    How do we organize? How can Slashdot come together to do something positive which stops this atrocious behavior by our governments?

    Before we hear about how silly this idea is or how it won't ever work, who has actually tried on a somewhat large scale in terms of people?

    I may be alone, but I am so tired of hearing about all the incredibly ridiculous things our government is doing to the people who pay for them to be there.

    Well, it was worth a try... I'm ready to be shot down, but if I didn't say something, I'd just be a lemming like a good percentage of the clueless constituency.

    Rant over... :)
  • Great business plan (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ThatsNotPudding ( 1045640 ) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @01:49PM (#43294149)
    Third-world countries could do a good business by awarding folks diplomatic courier status... for a fee. Any communications between two of them would be out. of. bounds.

Order and simplification are the first steps toward mastery of a subject -- the actual enemy is the unknown. -- Thomas Mann