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Communications Government Privacy The Courts United States

Court Allowed NSA To Spy On All But 4 Countries 242

mrspoonsi (2955715) writes A court permitted the NSA to collect information about governments in 193 countries and foreign institutions like the World Bank, according to a secret document the Washington Post published Monday. The certification issued by a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in 2010 shows the NSA has the authority to "intercept through U.S. companies not just the communications of its overseas targets, but any communications about its targets as well," according to the Post's report. Only four countries in the world — Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand — were exempt from the agreement, due to existing no-spying agreements that the Post highlights in this document about the group of countries, known as "Five Eyes" with the U.S.
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Court Allowed NSA To Spy On All But 4 Countries

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  • Uh... Yeah? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CajunArson ( 465943 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @08:46AM (#47359019) Journal

    Sorry, but I'm not going to get my panties in a bind that the NSA is spying on other countries' governments considering:
          1. That's the NSA's freakin' job.
          2. Anybody who thinks that the only country in the world that spies is the U.S. is either an idiot or a liar.

  • Re:Uh... Yeah? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @09:00AM (#47359139)

    1. That's the NSA's freakin' job.

    I'm just doing my job! That makes it okay!

    Not everyone believes that we should be spying on allies and non-hostile countries.

    2. Anybody who thinks that the only country in the world that spies is the U.S. is either an idiot or a liar.

    Anyone who thinks that "Everybody else is doing it!" is a valid justification is an idiot or a liar. By the way, that's very likely a straw man, as I've seen no one actually claim no other country is doing it. The thing is... get ready for it... no one cares! It's irrelevant!

  • Re:Uh... Yeah? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thaylin ( 555395 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @09:19AM (#47359287)
    It is Russia's spy agency's job to spy on us, that does not make it ok for them to do, as I am sure you would not be happy about it spying on you if you found out it actually did.
  • Re:Uh... Yeah? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by YrWrstNtmr ( 564987 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @09:22AM (#47359313)
    I have never heard of other countries that put bugs in UN offices of other countries etc

  • Re:Uh... Yeah? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ZouPrime ( 460611 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @09:27AM (#47359351)

    > Just because its their job doesn't mean its okay.

    Just because it's the job of the military to kill people doesn't mean it's okay.

    It's not, but every single country in the world still has a military, and won't disband it just because "killing is wrong".

    Countries have interests. They have a foreign policy aimed at defending these interest.

    War is diplomacy by any other means, and countries will use wars as a tool of their foreign policy.

    Spying is also diplomacy by other means, and countries will use spies as a tool of their foreign policy, which has the nice benefit of not killing people and not destroying everything, like wars do.

    That it is "wrong" in some isolated, ideologically pure version of reality has little impact in practice. Countries continue to spy (since before they were such things as "countries"), and will continue for a long time.

  • Re:Uh... Yeah? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by erikkemperman ( 252014 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @09:30AM (#47359371)

    Your panties aside, the whole problem here is that NSA is using "national security" as reason for a whole bunch of other things. Like economic, diplomatic and industrial espionage. Which is definitely not the NSA's job, no matter how liberally we interpret their mandate. Expand the acronym, there's a bit of a hint in there.

    Explain to me why spying on, say, Angela Merkel or the entire Copenhagen or G20 summits is related to US national security and maybe I'll see your point.

    You are probably correct that other countries do similar things (China and Russia come to mind) but you seem to be clueless to the difference in scale.

    Finally, your sig: you disbelieve AGW arguments because you think Al Gore is a hypocrite? You're right about that last bit, but the conclusion, to put it mildly, does not follow.

  • by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @09:32AM (#47359377)

    I don't think any of those countries have secret courts that force local businesses to do the spying for them, though. Maybe Russia and China, and probably (to pick one not on your list) Iran.

    Seems like a club the US should join, right?

  • Re:Uh... Yeah? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @09:37AM (#47359417)

    Sorry, but I'm not going to get my panties in a bind that the NSA is spying on other countries' governments considering:

          1. That's the NSA's freakin' job.

          2. Anybody who thinks that the only country in the world that spies is the U.S. is either an idiot or a liar.

    I'm sick of this inane, uninformed argument.
    1. It shouldn't be. That's why we're having this debate. It would be one thing if our government found evidence of something shifty going on... spied to confirm or refute that, and then took action. That's not what they are doing though. They're bugging every world leader, tapping the phones of damned near every citizen, reading our mail... this is Orwellian blanket surveillance which is a far cry from "Spying" This isn't "Spying" it's totalitarianism and it's wrong.

    2. Comparing what the rest of the world does to what the NSA does is a joke. Yes, they spy on us, but they're not intercepting ALL of our phone calls. How many countries do you think have the US presidents phone tapped? I bet it's just one... take a guess who I think that is.

    But lets assume for a second that the rest of the world had the NSA's capability and disregard for human dignity and privacy... I could go on and on about the moral implications and what not but the fact of the matter is this argument was resolved thousands of years ago with the simple line: "An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind" It's not a hard concept to grasp. WE are better than that. We don't need to do this. It's wrong, we all know it. It should stop immediately.

  • Re:Uh... Yeah? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @09:38AM (#47359425)

    Is it also the NSA's job to destroy the American tech industry? Because that's how you destroy the American tech industry.

    It all depends on how they do it. They can sit in an embassy, pointing an hypersensitive antenna at "electronic targets", they can dig up cables in foregin countries at night, they can plant their own bugs. No ill effect on american tech industry from this. Quite the opposite, the NSA will need a "tech industry" to purchase bugs and other listening equipment from. If foreigners discover such a bug, they will either have counterintelligence feed it bogus data, or expose it and deliver some sort of official protest. Still no bad effect on american tech industry, unless the "official protest" takes the form of a boycott.

    But put just one backdoor into american equipment during export, and your reputation is ruined for a long time. Those that care about such things, will take the covers off and use disassemblers these days. Or simply order from other countries. Sure, the chinese can put backdoors into huawei products - in theory. But are they doing it at the moment? The paranoid can check no matter who the vendor is. The rest will either go by reputation, as in "who has not yet been caught delivering bugged products", or ask questions like "which producing country is least likely to spy on us.

    Tip: stay away from countries big enough to have aircraft carriers. The rest can't project power all over the world, and will neither have the budgets for - or the interest in - a large-scale spying operation.

  • Re:Uh... Yeah? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spacepimp ( 664856 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @09:45AM (#47359487) Homepage

    We are spying on civilians irrespective of who they are, what they think and how they act. Indiscriminate spying on the citizens of another nation is not the sort of thing the US should be engaged in. It will only piss them off and turn them to hate us along with losing the favor of the rest of the national leaders of the world. We have become complete and utter assholes of a nation and people like you saying it is fine have no idea how rude and arrogant you are to the people of the world who have done nothing wrong.

  • The cost (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @09:47AM (#47359515)

    I submitted this as a story a while back but it never got picked up: []

    Germany dropped a US carrier (Verizon) over the NSA issue.
    The worst part about this whole thing is the spying is worthless. The NSA is alienating our allies, driving away customers from US businesses all so the NSA can record the phone calls of little old ladies talking about bridge.

  • Re:The cost (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zocalo ( 252965 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @09:59AM (#47359633) Homepage
    Worthless is right. It's supposedly to prevent terrorism (at least that's how the proponents of wholesale data capture usually justify it), which would typically be a small cell of individuals looking to strike a handful of small high value targets. Yet despite having access to every single phone call in Iraq plus, no doubt, a whole array of other sources of intelligence the NSA appears to have been caught completely unaware by a major military offensive involving thousands that has effectively overrun about a third of the major towns and cities in the country. Missing the odd needle in the haystack would perhaps be excusable, but they pretty much overlooked the entire hayfield on that one.

    Even so, I'm betting they'll use that as an excuse to justify collecting more than just metadata, which is now demonstrably not up to the job, rather than scrapping the whole expensive business and working out what sources of methods might actually give tangible results and using those instead.
  • by jeffasselin ( 566598 ) <> on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @10:46AM (#47360141) Journal

    As a Canadian, the good news is that the NSA doesn't spy on us.

    The bad news is that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) spies on us and shares everything with the NSA anyway.

  • Re:Uh... Yeah? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by king neckbeard ( 1801738 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @11:10AM (#47360353)

    The US should remove its electronic spying capabilities because they are internally insecure? I'm not sure to follow you here. It doesn't make any sense, and looks more like a half-assessed excuse to support your conclusion (The NSA should be destroyed no matter what) than anything else.

    We spy on absolutely everything. Three are, without a doubt, agents acting on behalf of Russia, China, Al-Quaeda, and most crime syndicates withing the organization with access to at least as much as Snowden was able to get. That is a far bigger threat than any of these parties possess on their own.

    I think the general citizen benefits from the US global hegemony of the last 50 years. I'm sure they don't "feel" like it, but that's the problem of living in a rich country and feeling entitled about it. You end up forgetting the true source of the success to rely so much on.

    Our spy agencies have created the majority of the threats we face today. If we could stop enforcing the whims of the cronies at any cost, the general public would probably be in a better economic state without so much state backed corporate espionage and politically motivated coups. Perhaps we'd be less dominant, but I strongly prefer simply having a higher standard of living and being safer over being AMERICA NUMBER 1!

    Oh yeah, no exaggeration here!

    There isn't. We know of at least one attempt to undermine security standards, and that they have allowed US systems to remain unpatched for vulnerabilities in order to use against unnamed adversaries.

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

    by JasterBobaMereel ( 1102861 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @12:31PM (#47361095)

    The USA, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are all members of ECHELON and so already share mutual intercepted data, i.e. the NSA does not need to spy on these ....

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