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Snowden NSA Claims Partially Confirmed, Says Rep. Jerrold Nadler 337

bill_mcgonigle writes with this news from from CNET: "Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D NY) disclosed that NSA analysts eavesdrop on Americans' domestic telephone calls without court orders during a House Judiciary hearing. After clearing with FBI director Robert Mueller that the information was not classified, Nadler revealed that during a closed-door briefing to Congress, the Legislature was informed that the spying organization had implemented and uses this capability. This appears to confirm Edward Snowden's claim that he could, in his position at the NSA, 'wiretap anyone from you or your accountant to a federal judge to even the president.' Declan McCullagh writes, 'Because the same legal standards that apply to phone calls also apply to e-mail messages, text messages, and instant messages, Nadler's disclosure indicates the NSA analysts could also access the contents of Internet communications without going before a court and seeking approval.' The executive branch has defended its general warrants, claiming that 'the president had the constitutional authority, no matter what the law actually says, to order domestic spying without [constitutional] warrants,' while Kurt Opsahl, senior staff attorney at EFF claims such government activity 'epitomizes the problem of secret laws.'" Note that "listening in" versus "collecting metadata" is a distinction that defenders of government phone spying have been emphasizing. Tracking whom you called and when, goes the story, doesn't impinge on expectations of privacy. Speaking of the metadata collection, though, reader Bruce66423 writes "According to the Washington Post, the Bush administration took 'bulk metadata' from the phone companies under voluntary agreements for more than four years after 9/11 until a court agreed they could have it compulsorily." Related: First time accepted submitter fsagx writes that Brewster Kahle of the Internet Archive has calculated the cost to store every phone call made in the U.S. over the course of a year: "It's surprisingly inexpensive. It puts the recent NSA stories (and reports from the Boston bombings about the FBI's ability to listen to past phone conversions) into perspective."
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Snowden NSA Claims Partially Confirmed, Says Rep. Jerrold Nadler

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 16, 2013 @12:20PM (#44022151)

    "So they HAVE been listening. That has got to stop, but we'll keep the metadata collection, because that's not so bad."

  • Actions to take (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Okian Warrior ( 537106 ) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @12:24PM (#44022169) Homepage Journal

    From a previous post, here's the collected list of suggested actions people can take to help change the situation.

    Have more ideas? Please post below.

    Links worthy of attention: [] [] [] [] [] [] [] []

    Suggestion #1:

    (My idea): If people could band together and agree to vote out the incumbent (senator, representative, president) whenever one of these incidents crop up, there would be incentive for politicians to better serve the people in order to continue in office. This would mean giving up party loyalty and the idea of "lessor of two evils", which a lot of people won't do. Some congressional elections are quite close, so 2,000 or so petitioners might be enough to swing a future election.

    Someone added: Vote them out AND remove their lifetime, taxpayer-funded, free health care. See how fast the health care system gets fixed.

    Someone added:You can start by letting your house and senate rep know how you feel about this issue / patriot act and encourage those you know to do the same.

    If enough people let their representivies know how they feel obviously those officials who want to be reelected will tend to take notice. We have seen what happens when wikipedia and google go "dark", congressional switchboards melt and the 180's start to pile up.

    I added: Fax is considered the best way to contact a congressperson,especially if it is on corporate letterhead.

    Suggestion #2:

    Tor, I2dP and the likes. Let's build a new common internet over the internet. Full strong anonymity and integrity. Transform what an
    eavesdropper would see in a huge cypherpunk clusterfuck.

    Taking back what's ours through technology and educated practices.

    Let's go back to the 90' where the internet was a place for knowledgeable and cooperative people.

    Someone Added: Let's go full scale by deploying small wireless routers across the globe creating a real mesh network as internet was designed to be!

    Suggestion #3:

    A first step might be understanding the extent towards which the government actually disagrees with the people. Are we talking about a situation where the government is enacting unpopular policies that people oppose? Or are we talking about a situation where people support the policies? Because the solutions to those two situations are very different.

    In many cases involving "national security", I think the situation is closer to the second one. "Tough on X" policies are quite popular, and politicians often pander to people by enacting them. The USA Patriot Act, for example, was hugely popular when it was passed. And in general, politicians get voted out of office more often for being not "tough" on crime and terrorism and whatever else, than for being too over-the-top in pursuing those policies.

    Suggestion #4:

    What I feel is needed is a true 3rd party, not 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th parties, such as Green, Tea Party, Libertarian; we need an agreeable third party that can compete against the two majors without a lot of interference from small parties. We need a consensus third party.

    Suggestion #5:

    Replace the voting system. Plurality voting will always lead [] to the mess we have now. The only contribution towards politics I'v

  • Re:Actions to take (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ganjadude ( 952775 ) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @12:32PM (#44022213) Homepage
    Dont forget about the class action suit that rand paul is bringing against the NSA. might as well sign up for that as well
  • by Sardak ( 773761 ) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @12:41PM (#44022263) Journal

    claiming that 'the president had the constitutional authority, no matter what the law actually says, to order domestic spying without [constitutional] warrants,'

    Where on earth does the constitution say this? Once found, it needs to be removed immediately, in my opinion. Further, any president willing to use such an outrageous power should also be removed immediately. And anyone who supports them using it.

    I am a bit curious about the past tense wording (had the authority), though.

  • Re:Actions to take (Score:4, Interesting)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @12:58PM (#44022375) Journal

    A good list.

    I would add,

    Suggestion #7: Use your power as a consumer strategically. If corporations learn that there is a price to pay for their political actions, you'd see a big positive impact.

    A big part of the surveillance state has been created in service of corporate interests. We would benefit from having these companies learn that consumers are paying attention. Right now, too many of them believe tyranny is good for business.

  • Re:Actions to take (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ebno-10db ( 1459097 ) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @01:06PM (#44022409)

    you have the public backlash if/when an attack succeeds due to inadequate intelligence gathering

    "Intelligence gathering" is much too broad of a term. Call this blanket electronic eavesdropping. If the government could defend this program by citing cases where it foiled a terrorist plot they would. But they can't.

    Plain old-fashioned police work and people reporting things that are genuinely suspicious (that does not include your Muslim neighbor saying his prayers in his backyard) are the key, as amply demonstrated by history. Before 9/11 a flight instructor reported to the local FBI field office that it was suspicious that he had students who weren't interested in learning to take off and land. The problem was that FBI headquarters ignored the report. Listening to their own field agents could have averted 9/11, but blanket electronic eavesdropping wouldn't have. The bombing of LAX in 2000 was averted by an alert customs inspector, who didn't find it necessary to "disappear" the wannabee perpetrator. A plain old-fashioned arrest did just fine. The attempted Times Square bombing was averted by a couple of street vendors who reported a car with smoke coming out of it. Etc., etc., etc.

  • by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @01:10PM (#44022425)

    > This is true under current 4th amendment interpretations, but severely curtailed by statutes that are still in force.

    The reasoning goes back to old law which is based on the idea that when you mail a letter, you have no expectation of privacy regarding with respect to the outside of the envelope, however the contents of the envelope are protected unless a warrant specific to the person involved is authorized by a judge.

    So packet headers and phone call metadata really wouldn't seem protected under this precedent. However contents should be. For IP that really means even looking at email headers should be forbidden without a warrant.

    Now the idea that the executive isn't bound by the 4th Amendment is preposterous. By common law it certainly is. What do people think the Magna Carta is about? This was settled 898 years ago. The authors of the Constitution surely believed what they wrote was binding on every member of the Federal Government.

  • What is MetaData? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by chill ( 34294 ) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @02:05PM (#44022801) Journal

    So what exactly is metadata?

    Many years ago I was a telecommunications engineer for a large company and worked CALEA. [] For the uninitiated, that is law-enforcement wiretapping.

    My job was to make sure CALEA functioned properly on the new cellular network. We tested on an internal, micro-cell network that was isolated from the real world. The end result was to make sure targeted devices sent CDR (call data records, or metadata) and voice to the destination. This was all piped thru IPSec tunnels to the appropriate destination law-enforcement agency.

    In the event of a tunnel failure, CDRs were required to buffer but voice was not. Saving voice during an outage required too much storage space, but the text nature of CDRs meant they were small and largely compressible.

    Metadata consisted of EVERYTHING THAT WAS NOT VOICE.

    To be clear, it included the following:

    called number
    calling number
    time of call
    duration of call
    keys pressed during call
    cell tower registered to
    other cell towers in range
    gps coordinates
    signal strength
    imei (cell phone serial number)
    and a few other bits of technical information.

    Everything above "cell tower registered to" applies to traditional, POTS land line phones. This information seems to be what the disinformation campaign currently going on seems to revolve around. They never mention that there are over 327 MILLION cellular phones in the U.S., which is more than one per person. They never mention the bottom set of metadata.

    Capturing all key presses makes sure things like call transfers, three-way calls and the like get captured.

    It also grabs things like your voicemail PIN/password, which never seems to get explicitly mentioned.

    But the cellular set is more interesting. This data come across in registration and keep-alive packets every few seconds. This is how the network knows you're still active and where to route calls to.

    But by keeping all this metadata it allows whomever has it to plot of map of your phone's gross location and movements.

    By "gross", I mean the location triangulated from cell tower strength and not GPS coordinates. Towers are triangular in nature and use panel antennas. They know which panel you connect thru and can triangulate your location down to a few meters just by the strength of your signal on a couple different towers.

    GPS coordinates are "fine" location. For the most part the numbers sent across are either zeroed out or the last location your phone obtained a fix.

    GPS isn't turned on all the time because it sucks batteries down. If you own a phone you know how long it can take to get a fix, so this feature isn't normally used.

    HOWEVER, it can be turned on remotely and is a part of the E911 regulations pushed to help find incapacitated victims after 9/11.

    [There is a reason the baseband radio chip in your phone has closed, binary-blob firmware -- whether or not the OS itself is FOSS. We wouldn't want the masses to be able to disable remote activation, would we? Or let them start changing frequencies and power levels.]

    So, are we comfortable with the government knowing where we, thru our cell phones, are at every moment of the day? Because that is what metadata allows.

    Think of what can be learned by applying modern pattern analysis to that data set.

  • Re:What is MetaData? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by chill ( 34294 ) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @06:39PM (#44024395) Journal

    The software I was working with at the time kept text messages as metadata. However, there was a debate between the FBI (give me everything) and the corporate lawyers of the telco about that. I do not know who won or what the legal standing is today.

    My suspicion is that SMS messages are kept as metadata.

  • Re:Actions to take (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Rockoon ( 1252108 ) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @09:09PM (#44025135)

    The home of the brave indeed. More like the home of the scared. The home of the frightened.

    The media is telling you that the people are afraid, but have you actually witnessed people being afraid?

    MSNBC sure as fuck is telling us on a daily basis now that the majority of people dont mind being spied on. If its a majority, then how come in practice the majority of the people that you actually know are against being spied on? The media has invented new imaginary Americans that are different from the actual Americans that you might come across.

  • by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <> on Sunday June 16, 2013 @11:59PM (#44025945) Journal

    Ya know the way he did such a huge 180 on...well pretty much every thing he believed in? makes me wonder if that old Bill Hicks joke didn't have some truth: "Ya know why they always change once they get in the white house? The CIA sits them down and says 'you should watch this film and maybe rethink your position' and then plays him a film they shot of Kennedy getting offed in Texas, complete with the actual shooters. Once they see how easily they can be replaced? they read from the cue card just like the last guy".

    Honestly after all the shit we have found out, from Gulf Of Tonkin being a false flag to Fast & Furious? It frankly wouldn't surprise me, not one bit. Hell the only truth we get anymore is from whistleblowers, our MSM makes Soviet era Pravda look anti-establishment, and both parties seem to be in a race to see which can use more plays in the dictatorship playbook [] than the other. Anybody who hasn't seen the lecture I just linked to really ought to watch, Naomi Wolf lays out how many of the same plays used by Franco, Stalin, the crazy Austrian, are being used right here and the scary part? The video is from 2007, its much worse than that now. Even scarier? She is on the watchlist now for this lecture and one she did on what rights you have under the constitution, how is that for fricking scary?

  • by doccus ( 2020662 ) <> on Monday June 17, 2013 @01:08PM (#44031147)
    The problem wouldn't exist without the complicity of an uninformed and uneducated public, who believe the role of government is not to provide liberty opportunity and freedom from oppression *for* all, but "protection" and security *from* all to keep us safe from the "monster in the closet"

"The one charm of marriage is that it makes a life of deception a neccessity." - Oscar Wilde