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Communications Government Privacy The Courts United States

Feds Operated Yet Another Secret Metadata Database Until 2013 102

A story at Ars Technica describes yet another Federal database of logged call details maintained by the Federal government which has now come to light, this one maintained by the Department of Justice rather than the NSA, and explains how it came to be discovered: [A] three-page partially-redacted affidavit from a top Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) official, which was filed Thursday, explained that the database was authorized under a particular federal drug trafficking statute. The law allows the government to use "administrative subpoenas" to obtain business records and other "tangible things." The affidavit does not specify which countries records were included, but specifically does mention Iran. ... This database program appears to be wholly separate from the National Security Agency’s metadata program revealed by Edward Snowden, but it targets similar materials and is collected by a different agency. The Wall Street Journal, citing anonymous sources, reported Friday that this newly-revealed program began in the 1990s and was shut down in August 2013. From elsewhere in the article: "It’s now clear that multiple government agencies have tracked the calls that Americans make to their parents and relatives, friends, and business associates overseas, all without any suspicion of wrongdoing," [said ACLU lawyer Patrick Toomey]. "The DEA program shows yet again how strained and untenable legal theories have been used to secretly justify the surveillance of millions of innocent Americans using laws that were never written for that purpose."
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Feds Operated Yet Another Secret Metadata Database Until 2013

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's the Department of Racial Justice, after all.

    • Did I miss something? The Drug Enforcement Administration has been accused of a great many things(frequently with ample justification); but a warm and fuzzy relationship with minorities is not one of them. They don't even have an emotionally compelling and questionably true anecdote, like the 'welfare queen' to work with. If anything, the DEA is probably among the least liked TLAs in active practice(maybe the BATF is slightly lower ranked?)

      What allusion is your comment making that I'm supposed to be pick
    • It's the Department of Racial Justice, after all.

      Gee, and here I thought it was the department that manages the government lawyers.

      So, where do the lawyers get managed in your universe?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Line the officials up and shoot them.

    • Metaphorically speaking: yes. People should be prosecuted.
      But let's not become barbarians ourselves.

  • Anything you say can and will be used against you, regardless of to whom, when, or why you said it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The temperature in the pot goes up gradually, so the frog
    doesn't notice the water is too hot until it is too late.

    And now all those in the UK, the US, Australia, and various other
    countries are boiled frogs.

    And the water is very hot indeed.

    It's all about control, you stupid senseless gullible sheep. You will be controlled or you will be
    dealt with so harshly by your superiors that you will wish you had submitted. Talk all the shit
    you like on you web forums, but at the end of the day you have all been subjugat

    • Comments like these are annoying. You state something obvious, then attribute it to a cause indirectly. The Right Wing controls as much or nore than the left. Many of the things complained about as 'government control' are obvious right wing incentives. Not saying that both sides aren't bad, but both sides are bad. Libertarian party included, since it's bought and paid for...
      • Dude. EVERY one of the major political forces in the US is a right wing force by WORLD standards. (i.e. not your RIDICULOUS and extremely myopic US standards)

        Half the problem is how your people view politics, economics, justice and democracy in general. Which is why the endless comments like yours always annoy me so damned much. The ignorance of fundamentals is staggering.

        It is not either or time. It is wipe the slate clean and start again time!

        Any other option just will not work at this point - the US cit
    • The temperature in the pot goes up gradually, so the frog
      doesn't notice the water is too hot until it is too late.

      And now all those in the UK, the US, Australia, and various other
      countries are boiled frogs.

      And the water is very hot indeed.

      It's all about control, you stupid senseless gullible sheep. You will be controlled or you will be
      dealt with so harshly by your superiors that you will wish you had submitted. Talk all the shit
      you like on you web forums, but at the end of the day you have all been subjugated,
      and you are no more free than an animal in a zoo. In fact you are less free because
      you have to PAY those who hold you prisoner for the privilege of being a captive.

      Right about now, many Americans are probably beginning to understand why alcohol
      consumption in Russia is so high.

      are you blaming the frogs or trying to excuse alcoholism?

    • So, you're saying that Americans didn't know that calls to Iran would be monitored, and so having those calls monitored without them knowing somehow creates a creaping sheep-state? That is really daft in 100 ways. You can be for or against the surveillance in the story, and either way that idea is equally stupid; Americans always knew that communications that are really in fact to an overseas person, especially a person in Iran, would be monitored. That is not actually even controversial. So even if you're

  • by pushing-robot ( 1037830 ) on Saturday January 17, 2015 @10:43PM (#48842643)

    At this rate we'll need a metadata database metadatabase.

  • by DigitAl56K ( 805623 ) on Saturday January 17, 2015 @10:50PM (#48842661)

    Hang on while we all switch to encryption you can have a back door to. Once again you've proven yourself trustworthy!

    Is big gov most eager to turn into our worst enemy or their own? It's hard to tell.

  • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Saturday January 17, 2015 @10:55PM (#48842679) Journal

    I think most of us would agree this has gotten out of hand. This federal government is completly ignoring the Constitution, and getting more brazen about it each day. As the Court ruled in Marbury vs Madison, "any law repugnant to the Constitution is null and void". Null and void, empty of any validity - because these actions are not within the powers delegated to the government by people, they are without force of law, but are rather unlawful acts by the people commuting them.

    Suppose 100 of us or so wanted to start taking action and enlisting others to take action, in an organized way. We would need to start by defining our objective precisely. We'd need a measurable goal, worded such that we could know when that goal had been achieved. It would need to be specific enough that we could all agree to pursue that goal and we'd know we were acting with unity. Unlike the Occupy movement and others, we could stand together with a clear message and a clear goal, knowing where exactly we wished to go would guide our path. Can anyone state in clear, concise and precise language exactly what we'd seek to achieve?

    • I see a problem. The Constitution does not forbid snooping the communications of the country's enemies.

      When they steamed open letters from Americans to the Nazis containing troop movement info, we were glad they did that.

      When they caught a Soviet spy using his American girlfriend, we were glad they did that.

      When they foil a terrorist plot before they get a chance to kill people, we are glad of that too.

      We overreacted to 9/11 is all, predictable maybe; but it's never too late to fix things:

      1) I need the NSA

      • We need to split the NSA into offensive and defensive sections, and hand off the offensive block to the CIA. It won't stop the spying but at least we won't get cracked by North Korea hackers. Baby steps, take this a bit at a time.
      • If you let them have access in the case of "dire" need, you'll find lots of dire needs just coincidentally popping up. That would be almost exactly the same as now. I agree with your general premise, if it was possible. I just don't see it being so.

        Better would be to have it all locked in that basement, and have all the people allowed in the basement closely watched by other agencies without access, and all their non-basement activities to be published and transparent; and the activities of the watcher-watc

      • >. They don't share with other agencies, just like it used to be. Whatever they know is untouchable by politicians, courts, anyone;

        Definitely this is a good start. That's how it was before 9/11 and that was good. The NSA was only concerned about national security issues, and since they weren't allowed to send information to the FBI the data was only* used for national security. Yes, that made it harder to protect against something like 9/11, but it _helped_ protect privacy and freedom, so it was w

  • Sad State of Affairs (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Jim Sadler ( 3430529 ) on Saturday January 17, 2015 @11:21PM (#48842787)
    Who has answers? Obviously we do need better ways to catch and confine criminals and we also need better ways to tune these people up and make them normal members of society. Punishment simply does not work. On the other hand we have a government with a very long history of wrong doing when we give them any legal powers at all. The FBI has a perverse history. The CIA has gone nuts at times and the NSA seems to have no bounderies. And on top of that local cops are often operating outside the law with the backing of local governments. And it is not that local cops are just after people of minority races. There is some poorly defined Ozzie and Harriet factor that causes cops to want to control anyone that is unlike Ozzie and Harriet in their life style. As a matter of fact a cop's entire world is controlling other peoples' behaviours. It gets to the point where cops can't turn it off. they go off duty and still think they exist to set the behaviour of everyone around them. It is the order part of law and order that is the issue. The cops look for usual and common behaviours whereas different cultures have entirely different modes of behaviour. There was a ghetto near where I worked and it was quite common to see black kids out on their tiny bicycles at three or four AM. I live in a hot climate and the kids simply could not play outdoors during the day. Many of their homes also had no air conditioning or had problems with enough money to pay electric bills. The effect was that almost year round the kids were on their bikes and doing whatever they could to not be bored silly. Some were very dangerous while others were simply poor kids playing. Obviously it is illegal to have kids roaming about in the wee hours when they are as young as eight years and very much at risk in ghetto areas. How can cops deal with this sort of thing?
    • There is some poorly defined Ozzie and Harriet factor that causes cops to want to control anyone that is unlike Ozzie and Harriet in their life style. As a matter of fact a cop's entire world is controlling other peoples' behaviours. It gets to the point where cops can't turn it off. [...] How can cops deal with this sort of thing?

      the solution is for them to quit. if you are unable to be rational then you should not be a cop.

    • by bug1 ( 96678 )

      Obviously we do need better ways to catch and confine criminals and we also need better ways to tune these people up and make them normal members of society

      And a strong social welfare system so people dont get so desperate they see crime as a way to "fit in" with our capitalist society.

    • How are eight year old boys going to go to school when they're awake at 4am? What are the parents doing, and why aren't they in trouble for child abuse?
  • Haystack Creation (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    So while you were calling Australia to your mom, the DEA was putting you in the 'drug dealer' database, because calling abroad is something that a drug dealer might do.

    Because at some point they stopped investigating drug crimes, and instead switched to spying on random people for random reasons and asking the question 'is this random person I picked a drug criminal? [yes/maybe]"

    And the answer is [yes/maybe] and never 'no', they keep the data always. Without suspicion of any crime, they keep it anyway. So t

    • Having made many, many calls from Australia (and other places) to my mom in the US, she's probably in there, too.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Best just to log it all and then sort for any reason later.
      The other aspect to massive domestic log creation is to help track undercover staff, staff, informants, whistleblowers, the press and wider legal system.
      That haystack can work in both directions. Fully understanding the US telco network and all US social media can ensure a good background story for undercover work and help track all interest in that created persona or court case.
      Is a law firm or member of the press too interested in methods that
  • How much money could the government save if they just worked together through all the bureaucratic bullshit.

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