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Federal Judge Admits Existence Of NSA's PRISM Program (vocativ.com) 82

An anonymous reader writes: A U.S. judge has just admitted the existence of the NSA's infamous PRISM program by name, apparently the first time any federal judge has done so. PRISM has been an open secret since June 2013, when documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden were first made public. An ominous NSA PowerPoint training slide claimed that PRISM allowed "collection [of user data] directly from the servers" of major American tech companies like Yahoo, Google, and Apple, though those tech companies immediately and fiercely protested that no, to their knowledge, they didn't give the NSA such access. It's since been generally accepted that the NSA wasn't physically accessing those companies' servers with PRISM, but instead creating a streamlined legal process to compel those companies, via orders processed in the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, to turn over users' data. Since the program's disclosure, most government reports and redacted FISA court orders have referred to PRISM by the legal authority the NSA claims authorizes it, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. But that's confusing, because 702 also authorizes what's called Upstream collection, which gives the NSA access to raw internet data -- not the same thing as PRISM, which is more specifically targeted.
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Federal Judge Admits Existence Of NSA's PRISM Program

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  • by Taco Cowboy ( 5327 ) on Thursday March 10, 2016 @09:30PM (#51675403) Journal

    Years ago when we told others about the existence of Prism and many other oppressive projects, people say we wore tinfoil

    Thanks to Snowden and many other brave souls, now the world knows how despicable the American government (at least part of it) has become

    PRISM is far from being the only thing Uncle Sam has under its sleeves, there are other programs with equal dastardly scope / aim, or worse ... exposing those will take more time

    The world deserves to know how the American government - once the epitome of world Liberty - has become

    • by Applehu Akbar ( 2968043 ) on Thursday March 10, 2016 @10:15PM (#51675533)

      "Thanks to Snowden and many other brave souls, now the world knows how despicable the American government (at least part of it) has become"

      Unfortunately, this behavior will continue until we stop giving it money and power.

    • Years ago when we told others about the existence of Prism and many other oppressive projects, people say we wore tinfoil

      just because you were right about something doesn't mean you aren't a paranoid schizophrenic. [debate.org]

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Whats the difference between China and the USA ?

      Just the currency.

      • I suggest you go to China and say that very thing, it will quickly demonstrate the primary difference between the two countries.

        • So you are suggesting he "say" a question. Somehow I doubt that "Whats the difference between China and the USA ?" would be a question that gets you hung. It opens up the opportunity for them to say how China is great and America sucks. Now question that and yes, you'd be in a heap of trouble.
      • No,that isn't true. What we're fighting for is for the USA NOT to become what China is today.
    • by Megol ( 3135005 )

      Bullshit! In the 80s the Echelon network was exposed and until the recent leaks (when the codenames was exposed to the public) Echelon was used in public discussion of the intelligence gathering of the US "spy ring" (includes UK, Australia etc.).

    • Tinfoil, what? MS and NSA relationship has been headlines since 1998. What rock have you been living under?

      http://www.cnn.com/TECH/comput... [cnn.com]
      FTA:

      It's gotten to the point where no vendor hip to the NSA's power will even start building products without checking in with Fort Meade first. This includes even that supposed ruler of the software universe, Microsoft Corp. "It's inevitable that you design products with specific [encryption] algorithms and key lengths in mind," said Ira Rubenstein, Microsoft attorney

    • We all know how big money manipulates much - especially government. GENUINE government people believe in FOR the people. Corporate USA believes in $$$ first, with the people concerns bent on keeping more $$$. (i.e. suppress the masses so we can keep this model alive.) PRISM, et al, is in place for such purposes. (And I digress from here...)
  • to a retirement community named Public Retirement Information Systems Management or PRISM.
  • Remember ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BarbaraHudson ( 3785311 ) <barbarahudson@NOSPaM.gmail.com> on Thursday March 10, 2016 @09:46PM (#51675443) Journal
    Remember, the government can now do stuff and order you not to talk about it. It's very easy to envision them going to a tech and saying "open that wiring closet" knowing that if anyone hears about it, he's going to Leavenworth.
    • Remember, the government can now do stuff and order you not to talk about it. It's very easy to envision them going to a tech and saying "open that wiring closet" knowing that if anyone hears about it, he's going to Leavenworth.

      Cite?

      I only know of two forms of gag orders under US law. The first is associated with National Security Letters. The legislation behind those specifies that they may only be used to compel the delivery of metadata that is in the recipient organization's possession, and it says that the recipient may be ordered not to divulge the fact that the request was received or responded to. NSLs don't authorize arbitrary demands like "open that wiring closet". The other is a court order. Judges have very wide latit

      • Re:Remember ... (Score:5, Informative)

        by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Friday March 11, 2016 @12:37AM (#51675883)

        Remember, the government can now do stuff and order you not to talk about it. It's very easy to envision them going to a tech and saying "open that wiring closet" knowing that if anyone hears about it, he's going to Leavenworth.

        Cite?

        I only know of two forms of gag orders under US law [national security letter] / [court order]

        So which one of those are you talking about, or are you referring to another that the public hasn't been made aware of?

        There are also:

        Patent secrecy orders under 37 CFR 5.2: "When notified by the chief officer of a defense agency that publication or disclosure of the invention by the granting of a patent would be detrimental to the national security, an order that the invention be kept secret will be issued by the Commissioner for Patents". The compensations provisions under the law pretty much suck, too.

        Suspicious activity reports, under Housing and Community Development Act of 1992 / Annunzio-Wylie Anti-Money Laundering Act, Pub.L. 102–550, 1517(b), 106 Stat. 4060.

        18 U.S.C. 2705(b) -- The Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 / Stored Communications Act; this is where all the security "canaries" in the disclosure reports from companies tend to originate.

        18 U.S.C. 3123(d)(2) -- The Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986; this is what prevents disclosure of pen registers.

        California Electronic Communications Privacy Act -- gag orders on all cases concerning electronic search warrants.

        There are, in fact others, some of which I'm prohibited from sharing with you...

        • by KGIII ( 973947 )

          I don't drink anymore. At least not as a general rule. One of these days, we're going to have to sit down and have a beer or two so that I can pick your brain.

          • You should read my reply to his comment.
            • by KGIII ( 973947 )

              Chances are you mistake my reasons for wanting to pick his brain. (I read your reply before typing this.)

              • Well, I'm certainly not going to claim to know your reasons better than you do :-)
                • by KGIII ( 973947 )

                  I'm currently having a quite long email exchange with a guy who is attempting to put his brain, and thinking process, into code and is making "the most realistic and powerful AI ever conceived." (His words, not mine.)

                  The OP's post is an unusual one but in aggregate with the rest of his posts makes me think that we'd have some interesting conversations. And the examples he gave might not be what was requested, they are interesting and tangentially related, at least to some extent, which makes me think there'

                  • tlambert and I go way back; we met almost 30 years ago in school. You would definitely find him interesting to talk to.
        • There are, in fact others, some of which I'm prohibited from sharing with you...

          So go AC

        • Remember, the government can now do stuff and order you not to talk about it. It's very easy to envision them going to a tech and saying "open that wiring closet" knowing that if anyone hears about it, he's going to Leavenworth.

          Cite?

          I only know of two forms of gag orders under US law [national security letter] / [court order]

          So which one of those are you talking about, or are you referring to another that the public hasn't been made aware of?

          There are also:

          Patent secrecy orders under 37 CFR 5.2

          Valid point, but not relevant to this discussion.

          Suspicious activity reports, under Housing and Community Development Act of 1992

          Also valid but not relevant.

          18 U.S.C. 2705(b) -- The Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 / Stored Communications Act; this is where all the security "canaries" in the disclosure reports from companies tend to originate.

          18 U.S.C. 3123(d)(2) -- The Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986; this is what prevents disclosure of pen registers.

          Yes, this is the legislation that authorizes the FBI to issue NSLs seeking metadata. It's exactly the first form of gag order that I mentioned. Thank you for providing the details, but calling it an additional example is misleading to the point of deceptive.

          California Electronic Communications Privacy Act -- gag orders on all cases concerning electronic search warrants.

          This is state, not federal, and it requires a search warrant, which means that it's just a codification of the judge's extant authority to issue gag orders. So this is a special

          • There are, in fact others, some of which I'm prohibited from sharing with you...

            Bullshit.

            Here are some I'm allowed to share, but was too lazy to write out last time.

            Your employee confidentiality agreement.

            The confidentiality agreement that I had to sign with Apple to get access to the confidentiality agreement disclosing a project code name.

            The confidentiality agreement that I signed to get the code name so that they could give me another confidentiality agreement that used the codename in the wording of the agreement.

            That subsequent agreement.

            Doctor/patient privilege.

            HIPAA agreements with data

    • Then you do it anyway, very very publicly, and make it clear that you've been threatened and then point out to the public that they can assume any bullshit that happens to you or your family is a direct result of you pissing of 'the man'

      And maybe they do something to you, but the resulting backlash will actually result in a change where as if you just do what they tell you because you're afraid of losing your freedom then you're really no different than they are.

      Being a coward isn't an excuse for not doing

      • Most people don't want to spend the next decade in Russia.
        • by KGIII ( 973947 )

          Yes but he can say that because he's not in that position and it's not something we can ever verify.

          To be fair, so can't I. It's hard to say what we'd really do. I'd like to think I'll have courage and be a true Patriot. (Capitalization intentional.) I'd like to think that I'd suffer the consequences stoically and with dignity. Hell, I spent eight years enlisted - I'd like to think I'd do the right thing, the right thing being deciding for myself if a request is moral or not and aiding or not depending on t

          • I would just say that killing is easy, dying is easy, living is the big toughie.

            There was one sig that said something like "If I had to choose between betraying my country or my friend, I hope I have the courage to betray my country." I'd absolutely hate to be in that position ... then again, if what the country is doing is illegal and immoral, the choice gets much easier.

  • Reportedly NSA was able up til the recent past to grab unencrypted data transfers from one data centre in for example. the Google cloud to another data centre.
    This traffic may since have been encrypted by the pissed off cloud service provider companies.

    • Correct. PRISM was not a streamlined legal framework. It was a way to eavesdrop on data between corporate datacenters, and then decrypt, store and index it. e.g. in the case of traffic between Google datacenters, the NSA had to decypher the serialized Google protocol buffer format for Google data, then figure out which data corresponded with which Gmail service.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    DEC copyrighted "PRISM" as a computer architecture back in 1988/1989 if I recall correctly. Which means HP can sue the govt. for Copyright violations under the terms of the TPP, via the All Writs Act if necessary.

    • You mean trademarked, and no they can't.

      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        I have seen some of the most unusual claims about the law here on Slashdot. Everything from, "Beyond all doubt." to, "They didn't read me the 5th when they gave me that speeding ticket!"

        One of my favorites is the "fiduciary duty." That one gets completely mangled. The 4th, 2nd, and 5th get mangled quite bit. Oh, the 1st gets mangled a lot. Right here on Slashdot, during the Reddit thing a while back, someone was claiming that Reddit's censorship was illegal.

        I am not a lawyer but it's be awesome if we could

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Article has a few misdirections. Firstly the denial from the companies involved.
    They all claimed they didn't give NSA DIRECT access to their servers, and everyone of them refused to remove the qualifier "direct" when pushed.

    So there is this PC on their networks, which the NSA tasks to grab data that slurps and slurps down anything useful, which will be mostly political, business secrets, military stuff. *INDIRECT* access you could call it, but its warrantless unrestrained access nevertheless.

    "Foreign Intell

    • And that is the danger inherent with any secret court.

      It astounds me that some people consider the very idea of the FISA court to be a good one.

      If those people are afraid of terrorists, why the fuck arent they afraid of the biggest terrorist in the room?

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      It depends on what DIRECT domestic access would mean to a brand and its obligations?
      Government or mil optical and splitters, servers deep in their network after any brand encryption had been removed would be the best win for the gov/mil.
      That would show access, support and cooperation at a brand level. Legal, tech, everyone knew and happily helped.
      Some other law enforcement operation was used as a domestic cover for years and they got 100% brand cooperation. Other mil and gov networks followed that wid

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