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William Binney: NSA Records and Stores 80% of All US Audio Calls 278

stephendavion sends a report at The Guardian about remarks from whistleblower William Binney, who left the NSA after its move toward overreaching surveillance following the September 11th attacks. Binney says, "At least 80% of all audio calls, not just metadata, are recorded and stored in the U.S. The NSA lies about what it stores." He added, "The ultimate goal of the NSA is total population control, but I’m a little optimistic with some recent Supreme Court decisions, such as law enforcement mostly now needing a warrant before searching a smartphone." One of Binney's biggest concerns about government-led surveillance is its lack of oversight: "The FISA court has only the government’s point of view. There are no other views for the judges to consider. There have been at least 15-20 trillion constitutional violations for U.S. domestic audiences and you can double that globally."
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William Binney: NSA Records and Stores 80% of All US Audio Calls

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  • Uh (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 11, 2014 @02:35PM (#47433067)
    Seeing as this would be petabytes of data every month, it should be easy enough to find out if the NSA is purchasing enough storage to accomplish something like this. Where's the proof of that?
  • by Scottingham ( 2036128 ) on Friday July 11, 2014 @02:35PM (#47433071)
    • Actually I'm surprised at this. This is one of those few things that were worse than I expected, along with the NSA sabotaging NIST standards, treating all Linux users, cipherpunks and privacy advocates as extremists, and targeting human rights organizations.

      80% of all calls in the US!? This is madness. This is computer-powered McCarthyism on crack.

      • Re:I'm shocked! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by clonehappy ( 655530 ) on Friday July 11, 2014 @04:09PM (#47433901)

        worse than I expected

        Then you really, really haven't been paying attention for the last 15-odd years or so. Where are the apologies from all of the nay-saying bootlickers who branded those of us who have been pointing these things out since the early-90's "tinfoil hat nutters" or "right-wing conspiracy theorists" or just plain old "kooks"?
        I'm not happy to be proven right (I was always hoping to be proven wrong), I'm just sad that we had to let it get to this point before people started paying attention.

        • Just you wait till the 911 truthers are proven right too!
          I just hope the moon landing really happened!
      • I think the title is actually a bit inaccurate. It seems that it's not 80% of calls in the US are stored, it's 80% of all calls globally are stored in the US. The remainder is likely because there are some pipes they don't have reliable enough taps for.
      • Re:I'm shocked! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by RyuuzakiTetsuya ( 195424 ) <taiki@[ ].net ['cox' in gap]> on Friday July 11, 2014 @05:04PM (#47434281)

        I'm not.

        This isn't McCarthyism, this is the what you get when you're "tough on crime."

        Ironically, being "tough on crime" means having a lot of counter productive law enforcement policies and having the law enforcement organizations themselves turn into basically rogue agencies with zero accountability.

        It's the effect of the Willie Horton [] ad to hyperbolic degrees.

        No one wants to be known as the Guy Who Let Bad Things Happen.

  • by MetalliQaZ ( 539913 ) on Friday July 11, 2014 @02:39PM (#47433097)

    I saw Mr. Binney speak at the HOPE conference in 2012. I remember a conversation with my parents where I relayed what I learned from him to them, and they thought I was buying into some conspiracy. When Snowden broke into the news, they asked me how I had known so far ahead of time.

    I'm surprised there hasn't been more discussion about Binney's whistle-blowing in the wake of the Snowden revelations. He has been sounding the alarm for many years now.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 11, 2014 @02:49PM (#47433181)

      Not even the media contacted me when I sent anonymous tips concerning Stingray capabilities, and I worked on the project. It's way worse than people imagine, but people don't want to listen to what some anonymous coward says. Nobody is going to listen without hard evidence, but providing hard evidence (like Snowden did) means the end of your life as you know it.

      • Not even the media contacted me when I sent anonymous tips concerning Stingray capabilities, and I worked on the project.

        How could the media have contacted you when you sent in the tip anonymously?


        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          (I'm a different AC)
          He could have included a public key with the tip.

          • You expect anyone in the media to actually be able to figure out how to reply to someone when it's more involved than just clicking the reply button at the top of the web page they check their email on?

        • Not even the media contacted me when I sent anonymous tips concerning Stingray capabilities, and I worked on the project.

          How could the media have contacted you when you sent in the tip anonymously?

          The same way you did?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Media suppression. "Self"-censorship. Because if you speak up, your own dirty laundry will be aired for the public to see and no one will ever trust anything you say.

    • by i kan reed ( 749298 ) on Friday July 11, 2014 @02:52PM (#47433209) Homepage Journal

      The difference between a conspiracy that exists, and the conspiracy that actually happens can be tested simply:

      Would an uninformed idiot think it's actually a good idea to do?
      If yes? It's probably happening.
      If no? Find a new theory.

      It's not that idiots run everything. But idiots get involved in every piece of decision making, somehow.

    • Media (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'm surprised there hasn't been more discussion about Binney's whistle-blowing in the wake of the Snowden revelations. He has been sounding the alarm for many years now.

      Because the media is incompetent. The days of investigative journalism like Woodward and Bernstein are loooong gone.

      There's no money in it.

      You know where the money is? Look at Fox News. Their content is where the money is - political punditry.


      MSNBC, CNN, and everyone else is also to blame. Fox News at least - or Rupert anyway - had the balls to say it upfront.

      I watched 60 Minutes the other week, and just shook my head at how they turned to shit. CBS used to be the best.

      The people - you people includ

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 11, 2014 @04:04PM (#47433845)

      Binney has been sounding the alarm on this stuff for thirteen years and counting. He isn't the only one, and Snowden won't be the last.

      I hate to say it, but the show's over, Bill. Nobody cares, America doesn't care. The terrorists and the government (two sides of the same coin) have already won. They'll get their total control and for all intents and purposes they already have it.

      It's easy to see where this is all going to lead, especially once labor becomes largely unnecessary. By no later than 2050 free society worldwide will be figuratively and perhaps even literally dead. If a future of unfathomably brutal, near-fully automated totalitarianism doesn't appeal to you, then your way out is your choice. (I personally plan on sticking around just long enough to see how the shit hits the fan, if only for the small gratification of knowing that I was right.) Resistance is already impossible in monitored populations like ours. Soon, that will be the globe.

  • Why 80% (Score:4, Interesting)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Friday July 11, 2014 @02:42PM (#47433115) Journal
    If you're wondering why it's only 80% instead of 100%, it's because he's talking about all calls made everywhere. He says that 80% of the fiber in the world runs through the US, so 80% of the calls in the world are recorded. In other words, the NSA is recording all calls that go through the country.

    Incidentally, didn't Obama announce some changes he was going to make to fix the NSA? Have any of those been implemented?
    • by Meshach ( 578918 )
      Or is it that 80% are actual audio calls and the rest are just meta-data?
      • That's not what the article says......if it's not coming through the US, it's hard to get the meta-data (at least, just as hard as getting the audio).
    • Re:Why 80% (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Friday July 11, 2014 @03:01PM (#47433273)

      Incidentally, didn't Obama announce some changes he was going to make to fix the NSA? Have any of those been implemented?

      Unlike some other countries, the US has no experience what it is like to live under Fascism. The NSA is intent on changing that.

      • Re:Why 80% (Score:5, Interesting)

        by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Friday July 11, 2014 @03:38PM (#47433607)

        It's really only a matter or time before some President or intelligence chief realizes that he has every email and phone call sent or received, and website visited, of every one of his political opponents--all right at his fingertips. And even if he doesn't have the balls to use it openly, it would be easy enough to use it in secret.

        It may have already happened.

        • Re:Why 80% (Score:5, Interesting)

          by DamnOregonian ( 963763 ) on Friday July 11, 2014 @05:25PM (#47434439)
        • by gweihir ( 88907 )

          Indeed. And that is the extreme risk that the NSA's activities create. And after a while of using real charges (and most people have something...), just make anybody opposing the new regime a drug dealer, a child-pornography user or simply a terrorist. The FBI and many police forces already have started to practice lying to courts under oath with "parallel constructions" when they use data from the NSA. The step to complete fabrication is a small one and, I guess, has already been taken more than once. Pros

    • I would love it if Obama or congress would "fix" the NSA but that will never happen. They just don't seem to have the balls for it.
    • Incidentally, didn't Obama announce some changes he was going to make to fix the NSA? Have any of those been implemented?

      Uh, after the continued revelations by whistleblowers here, I'm just curious. What exactly is your basis for believing anything Obama says on this matter?

      And no, that's not just political snark I'm throwing around here, I'm being dead serious. You think they're ever going to declassify enough of this to even get through the lies, much less any changes that are (not) made?

      Not bloody likely.

      • by harrkev ( 623093 )

        Hey, Obama promised "Hope and Change." Isn't that what we have here? Admittedly, Bush started this -- probably. Or maybe he inherited the seeds from Clinton or earlier -- who knows how far back this trail goes? But Obama has had almost 6 years to fix things. Instead, under his watch, things have gotten worse.

        In Obama's defense, I do not know if Romney would have done things any differently, but I suspect we would probably still be here even if he had won.

      • Uh, after the continued revelations by whistleblowers here, I'm just curious. What exactly is your basis for believing anything Obama says on this matter?

        I don't believe what he says on the matter. I like to keep bringing it up so people remember that this is the hope and change that they voted for.
        If people don't recognize the results of their votes, they aren't going to change the way they vote.

    • He says that 80% of the fiber in the world runs through the US, 80% of the calls in the world are recorded.

      That has to be complete and utter bullshit. Why would a domestic call be routed through a country on the other side of the world, just because there happens to be fiber optic cables there? And all domestic calls outside of the USA account for just 20% of the total? I doubt it.

    • Incidentally, didn't Obama announce some changes he was going to make to fix the NSA? Have any of those been implemented? []

      He's a liar, and a fraud.

    • Re:Why 80% (Score:5, Informative)

      by arobatino ( 46791 ) on Saturday July 12, 2014 @02:23AM (#47436773)

      Incidentally, didn't Obama announce some changes he was going to make to fix the NSA?

      This is the guy who disingenuously said "Nobody is listening to your telephone calls" [], knowing the monitoring is done by speech recognition and only a tiny fraction needs to be listened to by humans, and who appointed Clapper to establish an NSA review board [], knowing he had already lied to Congress to protect the NSA.

  • Spock: 'member (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Impy the Impiuos Imp ( 442658 ) on Friday July 11, 2014 @02:43PM (#47433127) Journal

    Right after 9/11, in the heat to Get Those Guys and their network, the NSA went into vast recoding depositories to track back conversations, actual recorded calls. They admitted it and it kind of blew by in the moment.

    Am I the only one who remembers this?

    • Re:Spock: 'member (Score:5, Interesting)

      by paysonwelch ( 2505012 ) on Friday July 11, 2014 @02:55PM (#47433233) Homepage
      There are a lot of things that can only be remembered. I remember there was an announcement a day or two after 9/11 that all data was now being routed through government servers. That didn't surprise me but it's like they flipped a switch so they were ready for it.
      • if they made an announcement and you remember it then there would be a record of it somewhere, news article or blog entry or something.
      • by gewalker ( 57809 )

        Remembering it is not enough. Lots of people "remember" Johnny Carson and Rachael Welch (or Gabor or someone else) petty their cat while visiting Johnny and when asked,"Would you like to pet my pussy?" Replied yes if you get that cat out of the way.

        Supposedly censors allowed this to pass because the potentially offending word was actually ok because it can and did refer to a cat.

        Never happened. If you think about censorship as it was have been in the 70's they would never have allowed this. Though her suppo

        • Yar, one of the interesting things from 1984 was the massive amount of work spent on doctoring or destroying sources of 'unpopular' information. The Soviets were also masters at retouching photographs (in the 40's and 50's!)

          Now none of that is really needed.

          There's so much information out there, and it is so easy to (intentionally or not) draw false equivalencies between what's real, and what's fake, that the truth just kind of gets lost in the noise. It makes the 'big lie' infinitely easy for anyone who

    • by dave562 ( 969951 )

      I missed that. Any references still around to it?

      The 9/11 piece of info that sticks around in my mind is the "second crash site" in Pennsylvania. The site where the tail of the plane landed.

      • what does that mean pennsylvania. a plane did go down there.
        • by dave562 ( 969951 )

          When 9/11 was happening in real time, there were multiple news reports of TWO crash sites in Pennsylvania. There was the primary crash site, and then a secondary site a couple of miles away. At the secondary site, it was mentioned that the tail of the plane was found there.

          After the first or second day of reporting, that story was squashed and never brought up again.

          • if there was a second crash site wouldn't have there been a hole in the ground that people noticed? can the govt cover up something like that?
          • by itzly ( 3699663 )
            Any real time coverage of any big event has numerous reporting mistakes. No news.
          • Makes sense, the plane could have broken up on impact and the area where the tail landed was initially thought to be a second crash site. It was found to be part of the same plane, and the fact that the plane's ass landed some distance away is hardly newsworthy.

            • Does that not imply that the plane broke apart while still airborne?

              • I'll bite, though I don't believe the second crash site nonsense.

                Big planes are subject to big aerodynamic stresses. It isn't hard to imagine that a large jetliner, told to do a full-thrust nose dive could come apart with even the slightest bit of wind-sheer. Hell, tails have been ripped off of C-5s without accelerating toward the ground at mach 1.
  • by moehoward ( 668736 ) on Friday July 11, 2014 @02:44PM (#47433139)


  • Speech to Text (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dave562 ( 969951 ) on Friday July 11, 2014 @02:52PM (#47433207) Journal

    Step 1. Collect all audio
    Step 2. Convert speech to text
    Step 3. ???
    Step 4. Profit

    The IT guy and geek in me gets all excited thinking about all of the cool technology that they are leveraging.

    The civil libertarian in me shudders knowing how easily they are able to contextualize and analyze the communications with the intent of subverting public discourse.

    The cynical part of me is starting to believe that the average American really does not care because they are so conditioned that they have zero desire to enjoy any sort of true freedom. As long as they have access to shopping malls, housing and alcohol / caffeine / prescription drugs, they will be content.

    • The real question is how much they want for the phone numbers and call recordings of every single, moderately-attractive woman in the world, and then how much they want to get my name on the list of every single, moderately-attractive man in the world... hey, the NSA could open up a pretty profitable side business like this.

  • Blackmail? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by stoicfaux ( 466273 ) on Friday July 11, 2014 @02:53PM (#47433221)

    If the NSA can track people's movements, track who comes into contact with them, or just flat out records their phone calls, how many of our local/state/federal politicians, policy makers, law enforcement members, bureaucrats, bankers, CEOs, etc., could be blackmailed based on such information?

    Next question. Who controls the NSA?

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      Nobody. The NSA is beginning to be what the GeStaPo was in the 3rd Reich. Of course _they_ were loyal to the Fuehrer, but the NSA does not even have that much oversight.

    • Blackmail? No, visible use of power is clumsy. Simply leak incriminating information about anyone running against a candidate sympathetic to your point of view.

  • by Squidlips ( 1206004 ) on Friday July 11, 2014 @03:00PM (#47433269)
    How come everyone forgets that Atta and his buddies did not trust cellphones as far back as 911. Now I am sure they are even more paranoid about their use.
  • by l0ungeb0y ( 442022 ) on Friday July 11, 2014 @03:11PM (#47433341) Homepage Journal
    So what if the NSA stores your data? Who cares if it's "Constitutional"? The Constitution is just a piece of paper and doesn't mean a damned fucking thing because even if some uppity people over at the ACLU or EFF make a case out if it, it will be discarded under the veil of "National Security" Face it, the USA is a Police State. AND YOU WONT DO A FUCKING THING ABOUT IT BECAUSE YOU ARE A WEAK POWERLESS WAGE SLAVE WHO VALUES YOUR SUV, JOB AND GADGETS OVER "LIBERTY" and look to someone else to fix the things you don't like. So I don't see why anyone should care -- because no one cares and nothing will be done. Perhaps these articles get posted because people like bitching about how powerless and helpless they choose to be in their pathetic existence as peons of the wealthy elite whose interests the NSA serves.
    • Perhaps we're waiting to see how the next two election cycles play out before we jump to torches and pitchforks? We haven't had an election since the Snowden leaks came out. Let's see to what degree domestic spying becomes a campaign issue.

      • Fast forward... election results: a democrat or republican will win

        • The House of Representatives have held votes to defend NSA spying programs. The results have been close. Let's see what happens when people have a chance to vote for a representative and ask the question, "domestic spying, for or against?" It wouldn't take many representatives to flip that vote.

      • it absolutely will not be an issue. outside of the (narrow) circle of people both technologically savvy enough to understand what's going on, and of the mindset that privacy and civil liberties matter, no one cares.

        The average person does not have a clue what goes on with things like facebook or audio/metadata collection; and to them the idea that the NSA monitors everything is straight out of Enemy of the State, and you should be wearing a tinfoil hat for thinking it was true. (and even if it was, who car

    • DISCLAIMER: I am not a lawyer. Legal matters just interest me and any commentary I make written, verbal or otherwise should not be construed as legal advice.

      There is a famous saying that has been attributed to various people; "There are four boxes of liberty; the soapbox, the ballot box, the jury box and finally the ammo box. Please use in that order."

      Though to be perfectly honest I don't believe armed insurrection would be very fruitful nor do I advocate one but law is an interest of mine so the point yo

      • by meta-monkey ( 321000 ) on Friday July 11, 2014 @04:39PM (#47434141) Journal

        I support private gun ownership, simply because I believe self-defense is a natural right of all people, and handguns are the most appropriate tool for the job.

        That said, this entire situation puts lie to the NRA, pro second amendment claim that "we gots to have our guns to protect from teh tyranny! The 2nd amendment protects all the others!"

        You want to see tyranny? Well, here it is. The NSA is executing general warrants. There is no authorization for any government agency to do that in the constitution. The issuance of general warrants was one of the primary reasons the founding father declared independence. In the 1760s the King's men had general warrants they were using to search colonists' homes, rifling through their papers looking for seditious materials and unpaid taxes. About this Thomas Paine wrote "These are the times that try men's souls."

        So, 2nd amendment heroes, here ya go. They've nullified the 4th amendment. It only allows specific warrants, and these are general warrants. So you going to round up your militia and march on the Utah data center? Demand access so you can shut the system down? What's that? Not a peep out of you fuckers? Then shut the fuck about the goddamn second amendment. Defense against tyranny my ass.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 11, 2014 @03:19PM (#47433395)

    Not from this disclosure specifically, but ever since 2001, I've learned one important thing: we've underestimated what has actually been done. Remember those stories years ago about secret data centre taps that were tied into major fibre/international cable telecommunications hubs [] in places like San Francisco? Imagine what *could* be done with that! Imagine if that is one example of what is tapped at every ingress/egress communications point in a country. That was way back in 2006. No, no, that's paranoia. And there are legal protections that would prevent it.

    All implemented. Everything. The sky's the limit. Billions and billions of dollars to do it? Here's the cash. Even the legal protections have been circumvented by using ridiculous legal tricks such as collecting everything. As long as nobody looks at it or no citizens are specifically "targetted", that is somehow fine and not mass surveillance? It's not a "search"? It's like going into every house in the country and passively photographing and recording everything there, but as long as nobody looks at that vast database unless there's some token cause, it's not a "search". It's like some kind of bizarro quantum mechanical legal theory where unless it is observed, the collected data exists in a legal limbo that doesn't make it a search until actively searched.

    No, it is mass surveillance. And no matter how much you trust the people doing it, the results of that search are just sitting there waiting to be abused.

  • Of course they are (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DarkOx ( 621550 ) on Friday July 11, 2014 @03:36PM (#47433593) Journal

    I have been posted before there is simply no way the NSA could have use for even the most conservative estimates for there storage capacity in that Utah data center unless they are or were planning to keep the content.

  • Liar... Fraud... []

    Impeach him. Can we retroactively impeach Bush as well?
    Scum, the lot of them.

    • Nobody is listening, the computers are converting it into text.

      Reading is a different story.

      Makes me sick listening to that fucking traitor.

Vitamin C deficiency is apauling.