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US Internet Company Refused To Participate In NSA Surveillance, Documents Reveal ( 95

Zack Whittaker reports via ZDNet: A U.S. company refused to comply with a top-secret order that compelled it to facilitate government surveillance, according to newly declassified documents. According to the document, the unnamed company's refusal to participate in the surveillance program was tied to an apparent expansion of the foreign surveillance law, details of which were redacted by the government prior to its release, as it likely remains classified. It's thought to be only the second instance of an American company refusing to comply with a government surveillance order. The first was Yahoo in 2008. It was threatened with hefty daily fines if it didn't hand over customer data to the National Security Agency. The law is widely known in national security circles as forming the legal basis authorizing the so-called PRISM surveillance program, which reportedly taps data from nine tech titans including Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and others. It also permits "upstream" collection from the internet fiber backbones of the internet. Any guesses as to which company it may be? The company was not named in the 2014-dated document, but it's thought to be an internet provider or a tech company.
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US Internet Company Refused To Participate In NSA Surveillance, Documents Reveal

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  • by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Wednesday June 14, 2017 @10:12PM (#54623083) Homepage Journal
    MySpace. And you know what happened to them!
    • by Anonymous Coward

      When Quest refused to cooperate in a similar situation, the government basically put them out of business and "discovered " that the CEO was an inside trader and sent him to a pound me in the ass federal prison.

      • by Qzukk ( 229616 )

        There was no "Discovered" about it, they claimed that he sold his shares because he must have known that the government would retaliate against his refusal to perform illegal wiretaps (yes, if you pass a law making it legal after the fact, then you are admitting that they were illegal at the time) by canceling their contracts.

  • by fustakrakich ( 1673220 ) on Wednesday June 14, 2017 @10:13PM (#54623089) Journal

    That would be a neat trick... Can we 'refuse' too?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      ...but I do have a house for sale if any of you warrant-bearing gentlemen are in the market.

      Seriously, this unnamed provider was both patriotic and loyal to the country. Kudos!

    • I know people around here have reading problems, so from TFA...

      But despite the company's efforts to argue that the surveillance order was unlawful, the company was later forced to comply by the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance] court.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      That would be a neat trick... Can we 'refuse' too?

      Of course. But do keep in mind that doing so will end up very much worse for an individual than a corporation.

      The people in a corporation who would make the choice to say "That doesn't sound legal, fuck off" are different than the people in the legal department that will be going to court to argue that position.

      As an individual, if you said "That doesn't sound legal, fuck off" then it will be you taken to court and have to deal with the legal mess.

      Additionally, when a corporation loses that court battle, t

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yes, you can refuse. Simply state you're an Article 4 free inhabitant, then shout 'I do not consent!' repeatedly while being arrested.

  • by muphin ( 842524 ) on Wednesday June 14, 2017 @10:16PM (#54623103) Homepage
    There are only a few large companies out there that could refuse and make it more difficult for the government.
    Giving the history with Apple refusing the decrypt data I would go with them, NSA probably wanted to tap into the iMessaging service.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I figured it was somehow Uber since there has a been a massive smear campaign against them by known CIA assets like the NY Times, and the CEO was recently forced out. Could be Amazon, but since there hasn't been a public smear campaign against Bezos trying to force him out it probably isn't, though maybe he bought Washington Post as a defensive move against NY Times slander.

      • Could be Amazon

        Highly doubtful. They have a $600 million contract with the CIA. Awarded just a few months before Bezos bought the Washington Post.

      • by Rakarra ( 112805 )

        Uber made its own bed. Saying this is just the CIA planting nonsense is like saying Bill and Hillary were taken down by the vast right-wing conspiracy or Donald Trump's current woes are because he wants to shake up the intelligence community, etcetc. People who do wrong are very good at deflecting the blame of their personal failings to someone else instead of admitting culpability, Uber doesn't need your help to do that.

    • by davide marney ( 231845 ) <davide@marney.netmedia@org> on Wednesday June 14, 2017 @10:51PM (#54623211) Journal

      Sounds like maybe Cox Internet. They don't take kindly to their customers being abused. For example, they had refused to buckle under to Rightscorp, the copyright shakedown firm, and blocked their notices for years. As Cox explained in their suit (which they lost):

      "Rightscorp and Plaintiffs tried to abuse Cox’s system," Cox told the judge. "Rightscorp sells shady services to copyright holders. It shakes down ISP customers for money without regard to actual liability, and it tries to enlist ISPs in its scheme. Cox explained it would not accept Rightscorp’s wrongful notices and asked Rightscorp to fix its notices. Rightscorp refused, instead dumping thousands of notices per day on Cox. As a result, Cox blocked Rightscorp’s notices. This suit is Rightscorp’s retribution, with Plaintiffs’ complicity, for Cox’s refusal to participate in Rightscorp’s scheme."

      • by l0n3s0m3phr34k ( 2613107 ) on Thursday June 15, 2017 @12:55AM (#54623679)
        When I got a notice from Cox for my "business-level connection" they specifically wrote that as this was a business service I was allowed per my contract to share out my signal via unauthenticated wifi and they therefor assumed that was how the infringement happened. At that point, I tweaked utorrent to only share back up to 120% and then stop seeding, and never got another notification. So yes, they do really put their customer first in this.
        • I have had a similar experience with Cox. A long time ago Cox indicated that they had been notified of copyrighted material being downloaded through my IP and suggested that if that were the case, I delete any material that could provide liability but never communicated my information to the complainant. They earned a lot of my respect then and now, 10 years later, I have upgraded to their business service (no monthly bandwidth limit and other advantages) and am still very happy with them.
        • Why would you not use a VPN for that?

          • by TroII ( 4484479 )

            When your ISP is on your side instead of in bed with the MAFIAA, why pay extra for a VPN?

            • Because your ISP isn't immune to a court order.

    • by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Wednesday June 14, 2017 @10:57PM (#54623241) Homepage

      A large company with good lawyers who were not interested in the corrupt money and contracts being provided, who knew full well that those utterly bullshit secret laws would fail in the high court no matter how corrupt those judges are because approving those corrupt laws would disrupt the US legal system and would have to be struck down.

      The surveillance had nothing to do with terrorism and everything to do with extreme political ideological corruption in the deep state (well all to shallow partnership in crime between corrupt corporations and corrupt elected officials and the corrupt political appointees they corruptly placed into the system). The sole purpose attack and silence political activism and any threat to the extremely profitable corruption, even though that corruption is destroying the US at every level, from overseas relations and trade to infrastructure collapse to collapsing education system to abusive law enforcers and prisons to a for profit military, all preying upon US society to it's ultimate collapse and they do not care as long as they are rich and can evacuate to another country with the money they fraudulently gain.

      • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
        If the brand followed the order and allowed its networks to be split/mirrored, accessed, decrypted?
        Would it have gotten a bounce in good PR and reputation as to sell its "collect it all" products and services around the USA?
        A collect it all blessing to grow as a brand?
        If it kept on saying no and tried the courts again?
        A rapid and negative turn in its reputation and brand?
        Who gained or lost a lot of traction around that time if the order was accepted or not?
        Totally unexpected growth or negative issu
    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      The final part on page 37 is been "Ordered to comply".
      Did the tech company keep on using the courts after that? Follow the order?
      Was it all ok and allowed to grow when it followed the order?
      The room like Room 641A [] was added?
    • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )

      Giving the history with Apple refusing the decrypt data I would go with them, NSA probably wanted to tap into the iMessaging service.

      iMessage was compromised back in 2012/2013 [] when Apple was forced to change the PTP nature of Facetime protocol with a centralized service.

    • by Rakarra ( 112805 )

      Doesn't have to be a large company, just one with "just enough" resources who have made a business over customer protection.
      Sonic Internet, for instance. It was one of two Internet providers (on a small list) to get a perfect score on the EFF's Who Has Your Back? [] list from 2015, and in particular they were hailed for how they "oppose the compelled inclusion of deliberate security weaknesses" by government agencies.

  • Lavabit (Score:4, Informative)

    by wherrera ( 235520 ) on Wednesday June 14, 2017 @10:19PM (#54623119) Journal

    Lavabit, assuming the calendar years fit the redacted docs.

  • I bet it was Qwest (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 14, 2017 @10:20PM (#54623127)

    Probably Qwest. That was covered extensively here back in the day. Their CEO was jailed for "insider trading" because the government didn't pay its contracts as leverage and it tanked the company.

  • Blow Daddy?
  • Reasonably designed. Persons reasonably believed to be outside of the united States.
    Spot checks as oversight?
    Periodic reviews?
    If they have someone from the USA, all they have to do is report it within 5 days?
    What the Protect America Act did to the Fourth Amendment.
    The Fourth Amendment foreign intelligence exemption.
    How the Forth amendment is "balanced".
    Compensation for services?
    Finally the order to comply.
  • Could it be (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kilodelta ( 843627 ) on Wednesday June 14, 2017 @11:22PM (#54623335) Homepage
    Cox Communications? I know they've not been too friendly to the feds.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I agree since Cox also refused to narc on pirates.

    • It's very important to get a business-class Cox connection to your home. It costs more, but it's more than worth it. You get a dedicated IP. You get a nice, clean contract that lets you run any service you want to, as long as it doesn't hurt the network and is legal. When you have a problem, you get a real IT person on the the phone when you call, not some remote call center operator going through a script. Hardware updates such as new modems are included in the price. And most importantly, the uptime and s

      • by kbdd ( 823155 )
        I already responded to another post indicating my satisfaction with Cox but every time I see a report of someone having a particular problem with their ISP, I can go back and say that I never had that problem with Cox.

        When I had the commercial grade service, one Sunday morning Internet did not work. I thought it was a network problem. A couple of hours later, I get a web page that tells me to call their customer support. It turns out I had been exceeding my monthly bandwidth by a bunch (50% over) for over

      • I used to have a regular, cheapo residential-class Cox connection when I lived in a Cox service area. The few times I had a problem, whatever call center person I got actually was able to solve it (much to my surprise). And when they upgraded their systems and my old modem was no longer compatible, they sent me a brand new Surfboard free of charge.

  • Redacted laws (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Redacted laws...
    Are you proud to be an American?

    • Secret laws, secret courts, tyranny

      • Secret laws, secret courts, tyranny

        Came here to say this.

        WTF!?!? A "secret" law? If the SCOTUS is OK with this, fuck the entire SCOTUS up their collective asses sideways with a rusty lawnmower blade! Twice on Tuesdays! There is no Rule of Law left in this shithole. The US government has lost all legitimacy as it no longer recognizes any limits to it's powers. The nutcases can shoot them all, for all I care. They're all criminals and usurpers of legitimate power.


  • Does the government surveillance benefit citizens of the USA ? If so: how ?

    Does it benefit a small, well connected elite ? If so: who are they ?

    That is the trouble with all this secret nonsense - no one knows how much it goes on, why it happens, who gains by it.

    BTW: I suspect that if a company pushes back, the government just finds a low level employee or two: shows them (but does not let them keep) a scary looking bit of paper and gets what it wants anyway.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Twitter was in the secret courts in 2014 []

  • I remember Quest Communications being touted as not complicit with NSA surveillance directly after September 11. The CEO subsequently got investigated for income tax evasion by the IRS and was sent to jail. Quest went belly up a few years later.
  • I'm surprised no one else mentioned this, but from Edward Snowden's revelations, the docs highlighted the NSA has "major problems" getting into zoho [], specifically their encrypted email service.

    But I think zoho might be an Indian company (surprisingly); while the post mentions a "US Internet Company".

    Snowdon's revelation also revealed that NSA didn't have much difficulty in monitoring hundreds of thousands of VPN's as well as having the ability to decrypt and intercept https comms [source []].

  • by T.E.D. ( 34228 ) on Thursday June 15, 2017 @11:30AM (#54625821)

    My favorite part of this story is that, due to all the secrecy involved, this company can get no kudos for refusing to facilitate spying, almost certainly knew that, and yet they did it anyway.

    “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.” John Wooden

  • what I heard

  • Former Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio, after threats from the NSA that his refusal to cooperate may jeopardize future government contracts, alleged in appeal documents that the NSA requested that Qwest participate in its wiretapping program in February of 2001, more than six months before September 11, 2001. He was the only head of a communications company to demand a court order, or approval under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, in order to turn over communications records to the NSA. The NSA cancelle

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"