Main Menu

Is Obama reading your emails?

Unlike the typical rhetorical article title, the answer to this one may be “yes.” Given that much of what happens in government anti-terrorism activity is secret, and a secret court can order surveillance, it’s hard to know what is and is not going on. The Bush Administration did things that were probably illegal, but the Obama Administration is at least claiming that there is legislation allowing them to do what they do. According to news reports, a significant portion of the intelligence briefing that the President receives comes from intercepted electronic communications. The Washington Post reports:

President Obama strongly defended the government’s secret surveillance of people’s phone records and Internet activities Friday, saying there are “a whole bunch of safeguards involved” and that Congress has repeatedly authorized the programs. …

Obama spoke at length about the need to find a proper balance between national security prerogatives and civil liberties.

It’s a little disconcerting when The Guardian, a UK newspaper, carries a story from a senior intelligence analyst, a whistleblower, saying that the US government taps into major Internet service providers (described as “partners”) in leaked documents, and the service providers say that they don’t know anything about it. Somebody is wrong there and I don’t know where the story will go.

What I do know is that some of the most brutal and repressive regimes in history have used secret courts, and of all the things related to this issue, that bothers me the most.

The question came to my mind, is it possible to encrypt communications so that the NSA can’t read it, and of course the answer is yes, although the methods may not be practical for general email messages.

Read more:

, , , , ,

98 Responses to Is Obama reading your emails?

  1. avatar
    Andrew Vrba, PmG June 7, 2013 at 4:48 pm #

    I love how the very same people who thought the Patriot Act was the ‘Best Thing EVER’™, right after W unleashed it, are throwing a tizzy that Obama is using that very same thing.

  2. avatar
    GLaB June 7, 2013 at 4:49 pm #

    The govt. may be reading your emails – but nothing in these recent revelations suggests that they are. You of all people should know better than to infer big conspiracies from little events. Here is an excellent article:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/abraham-r-wagner/the-nsa-nonscandal_b_3401783.html?utm_hp_ref=politics

    Furthermore, I have to wonder about some of the liberal outrage at Obama over this. If we don’t want an imperial executive overturning or ignoring laws we like, we probably shouldn’t insist that he overturn or ignore laws we don’t like. The proper response if the Patriot Act et al. go too far is to change those Acts – in Congress.

    And I am further dumbfounded by anyone being surprised by this. Well before he was elected – but conveniently after he had the nomination wrapped up – Obama broke ranks with fellow Dems (Clinton and Biden, for example) and reversed himself on telecom immunity (which, by the way, was about this exact same data-mining). It was in all the papers and websites; I can’t imagine how anyone could have missed it.

  3. avatar
    nbc June 7, 2013 at 5:07 pm #

    As far as I have seen it does not talk about partners but rather providers, and there is no evidence so far that these providers actively participate.

    Such would not even make sense as it is much easier to do this task without getting anyone involved.

    Step 1: The US has several key routers which route traffic to and from web sites, a lot of international traffic also comes through these routers.
    Step 2: Identify key routers and set up strong safe guards to prevent hackers taking over these essential points in our infrastructure
    Step 3: And while you are at it, route all the info also to the NSA

    The alternative would lead to excessive traffic and would be quickly picked up by the software monitoring tools. In addition, you need not have anyone outside the agency involved.

    So all you do is look at the ethernet traffic and recreate what is going on. Not too hard and soon you can see people typing away at their email.

    I bet you that this is how they are doing it.

    And the poor ‘providers’ get to deny but noone believes them as they may be bound by criminal penalties for disclosing any information.

    Well, that’s how i would do it. Quick filter to focus on IP address ranges and all IP addresses that link outside to outside US origin and destination. They are fair game. Then add IP ranges for a single provider and filter. Now we can start putting together the activity into actual email, uploads, downloads, messaging, voice etc, without having to talk to google or microsoft. So now we filter for content…

    So simple…

    Prism… they are splitting the optical fiber so to speak.

  4. avatar
    nbc June 7, 2013 at 5:12 pm #

    Look at an example network here

    http://www.ntt.net/about/network-map.cfm

    Few nodes with lots of traffic

  5. avatar
    nbc June 7, 2013 at 5:41 pm #

    GLaB: The proper response if the Patriot Act et al. go too far is to change those Acts – in Congress.

    Exactly… If the President were to not use these powers and something happened that could have been prevented… Imagine the outrage.

    We have allowed Congress to pass these laws, and now we are worried, while at the same time sharing far more private data with Google. But they would never use it for evil…
    Just for profit…

  6. avatar
    realist June 7, 2013 at 5:43 pm #

    “service providers say that they don’t know anything about it. Somebody is wrong there and I don’t know where the story will go.”

    I don’t remember service providers saying they don’t know anything about it (though one denied being notified in advance) rather they are prohibited, under the agreement, from saying anything about it.

    People have known about this “surveillance” since at least 2006, and probably earlier. Why now all the sudden interest? And this so-called “secret court” has been around since 1978.

  7. avatar
    nbc June 7, 2013 at 6:40 pm #

    I don’t remember service providers saying they don’t know anything about it (though one denied being notified in advance) rather they are prohibited, under the agreement, from saying anything about it.

    What agreement? So far I have real doubts about the involvement of these providers. People have jumped to conclusions when a much simpler explanation exists. Monitoring the traffic directly.

    Apple

    We have never heard of PRISM. We do not provide any government agency with direct access to our servers.

    and

    We do not provide any government agency with direct access to our servers, and any government agency requesting customer data must get a court order.”

    Google

    Google is rejecting claims that the government has a secret path to your data, telling The Washington Post, “From time to time, people allege that we have created a government ‘back door’ into our systems, but Google does not have a ‘back door.'” Google clarified with The Next Web that it does not know about the program and is not participating.

    Microsoft

    Microsoft tells The Verge that “we provide customer data only when we receive a legally binding order or subpoena to do so, and never on a voluntary basis. In addition we only ever comply with orders for requests about specific accounts or identifiers. If the government has a broader voluntary national security program to gather customer data we don’t participate in it.” The company is essentially denying involvement in PRISM. Microsoft owns Skype, another company listed as a participant.

  8. avatar
    charo June 7, 2013 at 6:57 pm #

    GLaB: You of all people should know better than to infer big conspiracies from little events. Here is an excellent article:

    Hardly a little event. There is commentary all over the place, much of it not as you have encapsulated it. First off, I was curious if you noted the first line of the article you quoted. Secondly, your article does not delve into the matter all that extensively.

    Here is a one liner from Mother Jones that demonstrates the complexity of the “secret court” in just one particular case:

    “…Currently, given the conflicting positions of the Justice Department and the FISA court, Sobel notes, ‘there is no court you can go to to challenge the secrecy’ protecting an opinion noting that the government acted unconstitutionally. …”

    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/06/justice-department-electronic-frontier-foundation-fisa-court-opinion

  9. avatar
    GLaB June 7, 2013 at 7:05 pm #

    charo: Hardly a little event.There is commentary all over the place, much of it not as you have encapsulated it.First off, I was curious if you noted the first line of the article you quoted.

    Well, I’m not going to read “commentary all over the place.” “All over the place” is a little too vague for me to grasp, but I bet it’s a lot of reading. And I’m not sure “commentary” has any factual requirement, either. So why don’t you summarize for me – who says NSA is reading our emails (or listening to our calls) and what do they base that on?

  10. avatar
    roadburner June 7, 2013 at 7:09 pm #

    dunno what they’re worried about.

    we had the echelon system in the uk working since the 80’s

  11. avatar
    nbc June 7, 2013 at 7:12 pm #

    GLaB: Well, I’m not going to read “commentary all over the place.” “All over the place” is a little too vague for me to grasp, but I bet it’s a lot of reading. And I’m not sure “commentary” has any factual requirement, either. So why don’t you summarize for me – who says NSA is reading our emails (or listening to our calls) and what do they base that on?

    It is clear that the NSA is not listening to our calls but it is clear that the NSA’s PRISM program is used to get access to a myriad of content from the user such as email, chat etc.

    Slate

  12. avatar
    GLaB June 7, 2013 at 7:14 pm #

    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/06/justice-department-electronic-frontier-foundation-fisa-court-opinion

    Also from David Corn, the same author you quoted:

    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/06/nsa-spying-obama-scandal

    “At issue is the disclosure of a highly classified court order—issued by a judge on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court—that forced a Verizon subsidiary to hand over on a daily basis to the NSA call logs for all of its customers. This included calls between the United States and abroad and calls within the United States, including local telephone calls. The order does not cover the content of the communications; it compels the Verizon unit to give the NSA what’s known as “metadata,” such as the time, length, and location of calls—not the customer’s identity. But the snoops at the NSA can use this data to look for patterns and check to see if any of these phone numbers are being used for communications to or from suspected terrorists.”

  13. avatar
    charo June 7, 2013 at 7:17 pm #

    Well if you’re not willing to read anything there is no point of further discussion. There is no outright statement that NSA is reading our emails or listening to our calls but the “commentary” I have been reading addresses the alleged tremendous overreach that has occurred under the Obama administration since the Bush Patriot Act was passed. Since you neglected to mention the first line of the article you linked, I’ll do it for ya:

    “At a time when the Constitution is being trampled and the Attorney General has an unmitigated inability to tell the truth it is easy to see the most recent disclosures about NSA’s collection of metadata from Verizon and possibly other carriers as yet another scandal involving the invasion of personal liberties.”

    After reading Obama’s statement on his reversal of his position on the telecom immunity that he posted in 2008 prior to the election, it sounded reasonable, but what has transpired since then doesn’t seem to fit the tone of his statement.

  14. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy June 7, 2013 at 7:18 pm #

    Is VoIP considered a “call”? Vonage, Skype?

    nbc: It is clear that the NSA is not listening to our calls but it is clear that the NSA’s PRISM program is used to get access to a myriad of content from the user such as email, chat etc.

  15. avatar
    GLaB June 7, 2013 at 7:19 pm #

    nbc: It is clear that the NSA is not listening to our calls but it is clear that the NSA’s PRISM program is used to get access to a myriad of content from the user such as email, chat etc.

    Slate

    I would think that the PRISM program is very similar to the phone metadata program. They throw billions of messages into the hopper and look for patterns, and then look more deeply into communications that actually seem to have some importance. It’s just not practical to read every – or even a significant chunk of every – email message, no matter how little regard they may have for civil liberties or privacy.

  16. avatar
    charo June 7, 2013 at 7:19 pm #

    GLaB: ” such as the time, length, and location of calls—not the customer’s identity.

    What has been pointed out in several places that I have read is that it isn’t that dang hard to match up the customer’s identity to the calls. I am not cowering in fear that someone is listening in on my boring phone calls, but an overreaching entity with that kind of power is somewhat unnerving.

  17. avatar
    GLaB June 7, 2013 at 7:21 pm #

    charo:
    Well if you’re not willing to read anything there is no point of further discussion. There is no outright statement that NSA is reading our emails but the “commentary” I have been reading addresses the alleged tremendous overreach that has occurred under the Obama administration since the Bush Patriot Act was passed.Since you neglected to mention the first line of the article you linked, I’ll do it for ya:

    I asked you for a specific instance of someone who says they’re actually reading/listening to our messages. I’ll be happy to read it if you’ve got one.

    I even quoted your own source that they’re NOT. (which should indicate to you that I actually looked at your link; now, what was that about me being “not willing to read … ?”)

    I guess you’ve got nothing.

  18. avatar
    charo June 7, 2013 at 7:23 pm #

    GLaB: I would think that the PRISM program is very similar to the phone metadata program.They throw billions of messages into the hopper and look for patterns, and then look more deeply into communications that actually seem to have some importance.It’s just not practical to read every – or even a significant chunk of every – email message, no matter how little regard they may have for civil liberties or privacy.

    So I am guessing you had no problem with the Patriot Act? Just like other momentous legislation, not enough time or debate occurred before its passage, in my humble opinion.

  19. avatar
    GLaB June 7, 2013 at 7:27 pm #

    charo: What has been pointed out in several places that I have read is that it isn’t that dang hard to match up the customer’s identity to the calls.

    And I have no doubt that they do. In fact, that’s the fundamental purpose of this program – to uncover patterns and links that they will then take to the court for more specific taps.

  20. avatar
    charo June 7, 2013 at 7:29 pm #

    GLaB: I asked you for a specific instance of someone who says they’re actually reading/listening to our messages.I’ll be happy to read it if you’ve got one.

    I even quoted your own source that they’re NOT.

    I guess you’ve got nothing.

    You described the problem as a “little event” and were shocked at the liberal outrage of Obama. The encapsulation is not that there is proof of emails being read or calls listened into, but that you seem to be missing the point of the not only continuation but extension of the Patriot Act. My statement of commentary all over the place was in regard to your nonchalant attitude over the matter.

  21. avatar
    GLaB June 7, 2013 at 7:32 pm #

    charo: So I am guessing you had no problem with the Patriot Act?Just like other momentous legislation, not enough time or debate occurred before its passage, in my humble opinion.

    I have many problems with the Patriot Act. In fact, I voted for McCain as a protest vote over the very telecom immunity issue I mentioned above (pointless, but one less vote for Obama). It was a sadness that I wasn’t a Wisconsinite to vote for Feingold.

    But the Patriot Act IS the law. And to think that Obama – or ANY President – would or should not use every power he’s granted to protect American lives is Wonderland thinking.

  22. avatar
    donna June 7, 2013 at 7:33 pm #

    from Jeremy Bash, chief counsel on the house intelligence committee, chief of staff at the CIA & Dept of defense

    “say we get a tip from a foreign intelligence service that a phone call is coming in from yemin at 2:45 pm to a disposable phone in texas – the US has to take the ENTIRE DATABASE, “interrogate” the database and look for that pattern – we don’t know their names, their phone numbers or anything else – the ONLY WAY to do that is if we have ALL of the records in ONE PLACE at that time – if you’re looking for a needle in a haystack, you need a haystack”

    there STILL has to be a reason and a NEW, PARTICULARIZED WARRANT detailing EXACTLY what you’re going to listen to, for how long and based on what – Congress, the DOJ & the FISA COURT oversees ALL OF THIS

    http://www.nbcnews.com/id/49263362#52134305

  23. avatar
    charo June 7, 2013 at 7:35 pm #

    GLaB: And I have no doubt that they do.In fact, that’s the fundamental purpose of this program – to uncover patterns and links that they will then take to the court for more specific taps.

    My reading of the Mother Jones’ article on the so-called secret opinion is that there is no court to go to for a challenge when the secrecy of the of the opinion finding that the government acted unconstitutionally is being protected. I respect your decision not to be bothered by that sentence

  24. avatar
    GLaB June 7, 2013 at 7:35 pm #

    charo: You described the problem as a “little event” and were shocked at the liberal outrage of Obama.The encapsulation is not that there is proof of emails being read or calls listened into, but that you seem to be missing the point of the not only continuation but extension of the Patriot Act.My statement of commentary all over the place was in regard to your nonchalant attitude over the matter.

    My nonchalant attitude is based on the fact that there’s nothing new here. We’ve heard it all before. This “revelation” is only “shocking” because there’s a black Democrat in the White House.

  25. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy June 7, 2013 at 7:37 pm #

    The secret NSA training PowerPoint presentation obtained by The Guardian indicates the participation of the companies listed and uses the phrase “private sector partners” and specifically states that the listed companies, Microsoft, Google, Apple, Facebook, Yahoo!, PalTalk, YouTube, AOL and Skype voluntarily provided the NSA with direct access to their servers.

    The NSA slide specifically lists the following types of communications they had access to:

    -E-mail
    -Chat – video, voice
    -Videos
    -Photos
    -Stored Data
    -VoIP
    -File transfers
    -Video Conferencing
    -Notifications of target activity – logins, etc.
    -Online Social Networking details
    -Special Requests

    The presentation said:

    “There were too many email accounts to be practical to seek Fisas for all.”

    nbc: As far as I have seen it does not talk about partners but rather providers, and there is no evidence so far that these providers actively participate.

  26. avatar
    charo June 7, 2013 at 7:37 pm #

    GLaB: I have many problems with the Patriot Act.In fact, I voted for McCain as a protest vote over the very telecom immunity issue I mentioned above (pointless, but one less vote for Obama).It was a sadness that I wasn’t a Wisconsinite to vote for Feingold.

    But the Patriot Act IS the law.And to think that Obama – or ANY President – would or should not use every power he’s granted to protect American lives is Wonderland thinking.

    I refer you to my previous statement about the concern of no oversight when an opinion finding the government acted unconstitutionally is protected and no one knows what happened.

  27. avatar
    GLaB June 7, 2013 at 7:38 pm #

    charo: My reading of the Mother Jones’ article on the so-called secret opinion is that there is no court to challenge the secrecy of the protection of the opinion finding that the government acted unconstitutionally.I respect your decision not to be bothered by that.

    My reading of the Mother Jones article is that it’s a bit sloppy. There is a court to go to. The FISA Court. They were told to go to the FISA Court. That is the court to go to.

  28. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy June 7, 2013 at 7:38 pm #

    The NSA PowerPoint training presentation obtained by the Guardian specifically says that the PRISM program was designed to get around FISA warrants.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/06/us-tech-giants-nsa-data

    donna: there STILL has to be a reason and a NEW, PARTICULARIZED WARRANT detailing EXACTLY what you’re going to listen to, for how long and based on what – Congress, the DOJ & the FISA COURT oversees ALL OF THIS

  29. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy June 7, 2013 at 7:40 pm #

    Read this:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/06/us-tech-giants-nsa-data

    GLaB: I asked you for a specific instance of someone who says they’re actually reading/listening to our messages. I’ll be happy to read it if you’ve got one.

  30. avatar
    charo June 7, 2013 at 7:41 pm #

    GLaB: My nonchalant attitude is based on the fact that there’s nothing new here.We’ve heard it all before. This “revelation” is only “shocking” because there’s a black Democrat in the White House.

    This revelation is “shocking” to liberals because there is a black Democrat in the White House???

  31. avatar
    GLaB June 7, 2013 at 7:45 pm #

    charo: This revelation is “shocking” to liberals because there is a black Democrat in the White House???

    To some degree, perhaps, since they seem to have assumed without evidence that Obama was going to ride in on his white horse and slay the dragon.

    But I primarily mean shocking to Rand Paul, Jim Sensenbrenner, Bill O’Reilly, Anne Coulter and the like. Feel free to GOOGLE their statements on the matter.

    p.s. to Dr. Conspiracy – reading your link now

  32. avatar
    charo June 7, 2013 at 7:45 pm #

    GLaB: My reading of the Mother Jones article is that it’s a bit sloppy.There is a court to go to.The FISA Court.They were told to go to the FISA Court.That is the court to go to.

    You are not understanding the conundrum. I am not trying to say that you are wrong for not being concerned but at least understand the issue.

  33. avatar
    charo June 7, 2013 at 7:49 pm #

    GLaB: To some degree, perhaps, since they seem to have assumed without evidence that Obama was going to ride in on his white horse and slay the dragon.

    But I primarily mean shocking to Rand Paul, Jim Sensenbrenner, Bill O’Reilly, Anne Coulter and the like.Feel free to GOOGLE their statements on the matter.

    p.s. to Dr. Conspiracy– reading your link now

    Is there an assumption here concerning the foregoing people and my opinion?

  34. avatar
    charo June 7, 2013 at 7:53 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    Read this:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/06/us-tech-giants-nsa-data

    I saw that article, but I am way out of my league concerning the validity of anything “proven” when it comes to any sophisticated technology. I thought there was just suspicion and my concern was more that if liberals are flipping, then I need to pay closer attention. The legal issue presented by the Mother Jones’ article captured my attention. I will look for others to weigh in on the prism issue, including yourself.

  35. avatar
    GLaB June 7, 2013 at 7:58 pm #

    charo: Is there an assumption here concerning the foregoing and my opinion?

    My assumption about you and your opinions is that you jump to unwarranted conclusions. To wit:

    charo: So I am guessing you had no problem with the Patriot Act?

    Let me reiterate: Furthermore, I have to wonder about some of the liberal outrage at Obama over this. If we don’t want an imperial executive overturning or ignoring laws we like, we probably shouldn’t insist that he overturn or ignore laws we don’t like. The proper response if the Patriot Act et al. go too far is to change those Acts – in Congress.

    p.s. Took three tries to get this edit to save. Either the ads on that Guardian page have wrecked my current browser instance (probable) or the NSA is peering in on this forum.

  36. avatar
    charo June 7, 2013 at 8:02 pm #

    Just scanned the article and it all boils down to a matter of trust in the government. When there is at least one secret court opinion finding a constitutional violation (as noted by Dr. C’s article and the Mother Jones’ one), are there more?

  37. avatar
    charo June 7, 2013 at 8:07 pm #

    GLaB: My assumption about you and your opinions is that you jump to unwarranted conclusions. To wit:
    So I am guessing you had no problem with the Patriot Act?

    touche in this case- I apologize.

    As to the rest, I think you are simplifying it too much. It is not simply that officials under the Obama Administration are using the law to their advantage, but they are overreaching and in at least one alleged case, breaking the law. Dr. C. stated in his post that Bush “probably” violated the law (or something to that effect). Here we have an implication that the government violated the Constitution but we don’t know any of the details.

    I am having trouble getting to edit also so I KNOW we are being monitored… (looking over shoulder)

  38. avatar
    misha marinsky June 7, 2013 at 8:24 pm #

    This has been done since at least 1998. That’s how James Kopp communicated with his confederates in Brooklyn, while he was hiding in France.

    They shared a Yahoo e-mail account, and that’s how US law enforcement found him. It was reported in the Washington Post. I’m trying to find the link.

    “Marra and Malvasi had communicated extensively with Kopp, telling him also via electronic communications that “the coast is clear”, referring to his proposed secretive return to US via Canada, and also to his use of their home as a safe house.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Charles_Kopp

    I’ve known for years that the NSA’s supercomputers scan telephone and e-mail traffic, on a minute to minute basis.

    Guaranteed, if a Republican wins in ’12, they’ll continue despite their posturing now.

  39. avatar
    nbc June 7, 2013 at 8:30 pm #

    charo: “At a time when the Constitution is being trampled and the Attorney General has an unmitigated inability to tell the truth it is easy to see the most recent disclosures about NSA’s collection of metadata from Verizon and possibly other carriers as yet another scandal involving the invasion of personal liberties.”

    It’s nothing different from what happened before Obama. But what people forget is that all three branches of government are involved, so it is hard to argue that this is a scandal. While I can understand why some may want to blow this out of proportions, it is US the VOTERS who have elected a Congress that passed these foolish laws.

    So, if you have any issues, then you should take it up with Congress. Furthermore, the real scandal is that Google collects far more information with a for profit motive.

    Have you looked at the source materials, rather than the news blowing things out of proportion?

  40. avatar
    nbc June 7, 2013 at 8:32 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy: Is VoIP considered a “call”? Vonage, Skype?

    Unlikely if it comes over the Internet. It’s just ethernet traffic. Unless they are by law protected. Of course, there is no protection when both parties are located outside the US, which is what PRISM appeared to be talking about when describing the amount of data passing through our borders.

  41. avatar
    charo June 7, 2013 at 8:33 pm #

    nbc: It’s nothing different from what happened before Obama. But what people forget is that all three branches of government are involved, so it is hard to argue that this is a scandal. While I can understand why some may want to blow this out of proportions, it is US the VOTERS who have elected a Congress that passed these foolish laws.

    So, if you have any issues, then you should take it up with Congress. Furthermore, the real scandal is that Google collects far more information with a for profit motive.

    Have you looked at the source materials, rather than the news blowing things out of proportion?

    I didn’t use the word scandal. As I said to commenter GLaB, I respect your decision to find this a trifle, if that is your take.

    The source was GLaB’s source which he linked in his first comment above.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/abraham-r-wagner/the-nsa-nonscandal_b_3401783.html?utm_hp_ref=politics

  42. avatar
    nbc June 7, 2013 at 8:33 pm #

    GLaB: I would think that the PRISM program is very similar to the phone metadata program. They throw billions of messages into the hopper and look for patterns, and then look more deeply into communications that actually seem to have some importance.

    Yes with the ‘minor’ difference that they can actually look at all the data, not just the metadata. But if the data are limited to foreign to foreign communications then there are no expectations of privacy.

  43. avatar
    nbc June 7, 2013 at 8:35 pm #

    charo: What has been pointed out in several places that I have read is that it isn’t that dang hard to match up the customer’s identity to the calls. I am not cowering in fear that someone is listening in on my boring phone calls, but an overreaching entity with that kind of power is somewhat unnerving.

    Talk to your congress people… They allowed for this kind of power. And while it is not hard to match up the data, the mere possibility of it, does not mean that it happens. Of course, if we really cared about our privacy we would not have voted for congress to allow this to happen.

    And we do not really care as we allow for profit companies to do the same but with far wider reaching consequences. They get to look at and use all your data.

  44. avatar
    nbc June 7, 2013 at 8:37 pm #

    GLaB: I asked you for a specific instance of someone who says they’re actually reading/listening to our messages. I’ll be happy to read it if you’ve got one.

    The phone program does not listen to messages. The NSA Prism will ‘read’ your email and will alert to any data that appears to be triggering a possibility of further analysis.

  45. avatar
    nbc June 7, 2013 at 8:38 pm #

    charo: So I am guessing you had no problem with the Patriot Act? Just like other momentous legislation, not enough time or debate occurred before its passage, in my humble opinion.

    The Patriot act was a big disgrace where we let our ‘patriotism’ overwhelm our common sense.

  46. avatar
    nbc June 7, 2013 at 8:40 pm #

    charo: You described the problem as a “little event” and were shocked at the liberal outrage of Obama.

    Well, the liberal outrage is as fake as the media outrage. The extent of the Prism program has been known for years. Noone appeared to be too upset. And why be upset with our president. He has the duty to protect our nation, not to listen to whining people who are suddenly upset.

    We gave Congress the opportunity to pass the legislation and the President is now using his powers according to our laws. If there is a problem with the laws then let us revisit them.

  47. avatar
    donna June 7, 2013 at 8:41 pm #

    misha marinsky:

    remember the petraeus/broadwell emails?

    Here’s the e-mail trick Petraeus and Broadwell used to communicate

    They wrote their “intimate messages” as draft e-mails in a shared Gmail account, according to the AP, allowing them to see one anothers’ messages while leaving a much fainter data trail. When messages are sent and received, both accounts record the transmission as well as such metadata as the IP addresses on either end, something the two seemed to be seeking to avoid.

    Petraeus and Broadwell apparently used a trick, known to terrorists and teen-agers alike, to conceal their email traffic, one of the law enforcement officials said.

    Rather than transmitting emails to the other’s inbox, they composed at least some messages and instead of transmitting them, left them in a draft folder or in an electronic “dropbox,” the official said. Then the other person could log onto the same account and read the draft emails there. This avoids creating an email trail that is easier to trace.

    The trick has achieved notoriety as a tactic of terrorists who are rightly wary of espionage.

    It’s the sort of measure you take if you fear there’s a risk that someone will look in on you. And it’s been around for quite some time, which may be why the FBI investigators were not fooled by it.

    A January 2005 PBS special on al-Qaeda identified the tactic as one of several “terrorist tricks,” alongside logging in from public Internet cafes. The trick is also used in a 2008 spy film “Traitor.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2012/11/12/heres-the-e-mail-trick-petraeus-and-broadwell-used-to-communicate/

  48. avatar
    nbc June 7, 2013 at 8:41 pm #

    charo: I didn’t use the word scandal. As I said to commenter GLaB, I respect your decision to find this a trifle, if that is your take.

    You are not understanding my point. What I am saying that I am surprised about the ‘outrage’…
    Were all these people asleep?

  49. avatar
    misha marinsky June 7, 2013 at 8:46 pm #

    GLaB: But I primarily mean shocking to Rand Paul, Jim Sensenbrenner

    Sensenbrenner is the creator of Real ID. Ha, ha. He also does not believe in evolution.

    Why am I not surprised?

  50. avatar
    charo June 7, 2013 at 8:50 pm #

    nbc: The extent of the Prism program has been known for years. Noone appeared to be too upset.

    The NSA access was enabled by changes to US surveillance law introduced under President Bush and renewed under Obama in December 2012.

    An Apple spokesman said it had “never heard” of Prism.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/06/us-tech-giants-nsa-data

    Who was not upset? Congress? President Bush? President Obama?

    You are not understanding my point. What I am saying that I am surprised about the ‘outrage’…
    Were all these people asleep? (nbc)

    It is my understanding that they are upset because not only did President Obama continue the Act but it seems as if he is expanding upon it, not just using the ugly tools that he never really wanted but kinda went along with, but he is actually going further.

  51. avatar
    charo June 7, 2013 at 8:56 pm #

    Additionally, maybe the type of whistleblower that came forth changed the landscape?

  52. avatar
    charo June 7, 2013 at 9:41 pm #

    Dem. Senator disputes Obama’s claim that Congress was briefed

    Read more: http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/304189-dem-senator-disputes-obamas-claim-that-congress-was-briefed-on-nsa-program#ixzz2VaJdcW4a
    Follow us: @thehill on Twitter | TheHill on Facebook

  53. avatar
    donna June 7, 2013 at 10:16 pm #

    “Everyone’s been aware of it for years, every member of the Senate,” said Sen. Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

    Feinstein and Chambliss circulated a Feb. 8, 2011, letter, which both signed, inviting colleagues to read a classified report detailing the electronic surveillance authority granted by the Patriot Act and the Intelligence Reform Act of 2004.

    The Senate voted in late December to reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) by a count of 73 to 23. The legislation extended surveillance authority for U.S. intelligence agencies by five years.

    Chambliss told reporters that the program has been going on for seven years under the auspices of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. He said he was not aware of a single citizen filing a complaint about it.

    He and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the panel’s chairwoman, also gave a defense of the program. “There have been approximately 100 plots and also arrests made since 2009 by the FBI,” Feinstein said. “I do not know to what extent metadata was used or if it was used, but I do know this, gentlemen, that terrorists will come after us if they can, and the only thing we have to deter this is good intelligence.”

    Read more: http://thehill.com/homenews/news/303891-senators-nsa-phone-sweeping-has-been-going-on-since-2007

  54. avatar
    Shizzle Popped June 7, 2013 at 10:28 pm #

    I’m with nbc on this. I surprised that people are surprised. It’s not like we didn’t know this sort of thing was going on. I’ll add that when my wife was looking for a job in the privacy legal space around 2006 there were several jobs in D.C. with the security agencies and subcontractors. There were also an inordinate number of jobs for people with data mining experience. There was enough information in the job postings to figure out what was going on. If there was some deep dark secret about what they were working on they were doing a really crappy job of hiding it.

  55. avatar
    Jim June 7, 2013 at 10:39 pm #

    charo:
    Dem. Senator disputes Obama’s claim that Congress was briefed

    Interesting tidbit here, Charo. The vote for reauthorization was 73-23. It broke down 19-dems, 3-pubs, 1-independent against. I guess we should be happy they can do SOMETHING in a bipartisan manner. There’s also quite a few articles against it from before it was reauthorized. So, it wasn’t a secret by any stretch. Some are going to hate it, some will want it for protection, others will claim the government is run by aliens. The important thing is that it gets a good discussion and if there’s enough opposition to it, it can be ended.

  56. avatar
    donna June 7, 2013 at 11:06 pm #

    Jim: if there’s enough opposition to it, it can be ended.

    “What if the headline had been today, instead of “obama searches records”, the headline was “obama canceled program which could have prevented nuclear attack on Miami – we would have had articles of impeachment already drawn up”

    Sen Angus KIng

  57. avatar
    nbc June 8, 2013 at 1:57 am #

    charo: It is my understanding that they are upset because not only did President Obama continue the Act but it seems as if he is expanding upon it, not just using the ugly tools that he never really wanted but kinda went along with, but he is actually going further.

    Not much further as far as I can tell. And why blame the President for doing his duty. You have to realize that Obama the candidate and Obama the President have two different loyalties. Once you understand that our President’s loyalty is to the Nation, you will come to understand why he continued these practices.

    The NSA Prism program has been in place forever in some form or another. The collection of metadata, the same.

    Some people are trying to blow this out of proportions, rather that taking responsibility for them being asleep

  58. avatar
    nbc June 8, 2013 at 1:58 am #

    charo: Dem. Senator disputes Obama’s claim that Congress was briefed

    ROTFL. This had been going on since Bush and now he pretends Congress had not been briefed..

    You’re so gullible

  59. avatar
    GLaB June 8, 2013 at 2:09 am #

    nbc: ROTFL. This had been going on since Bush and now he pretends Congress had not been briefed..

    NSA has massive database of Americans’ phone calls
    Updated 5/11/2006 10:38 AM ET

    http://yahoo.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-05-10-nsa_x.htm

  60. avatar
    Big Broverment June 8, 2013 at 2:20 am #

    obama’s just helping everyone out because if you can’t remember an old number you can call the irs and they can give it to you from the nsa database.

  61. avatar
    GLaB June 8, 2013 at 2:23 am #

    I mentioned above that I had browzer issues after visiting the Guardian website. They were duzies, too – tried to close a tab and it reopened – and reopened – and reopened …

    I took that as my cue to get off the computer and eat and recreate a little. But now I’m back.

    That article about PRISM seems to be about targeted, specific surveillance and not the broad mining that the Verizon story involves. Still, I think it’s not unrealistic to believe they are also doing the mining with internet posts as well. Again, though, nothing described there is revolutionary beyond the technical fact that the NSA can reach into major servers (apparently without their direct knowledge).

    I note also that Washington Post is walking back just a bit:

    Washington Post Updates, Hedges on Initial PRISM Report

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonathanhall/2013/06/07/washington-post-updates-hedges-on-initial-prism-report/

    And while I was at the Guardian, I saw a couple interesting links that I have since read.

    (1) Glenn Greenwald basically challenging the White House to come get his source.
    (2) Later Guardian article reporting that the British also used intelligence mined from PRISM.

    Adding (1) plus (2) I get (3) – Greenwald’s source is British; and he’s not sitting so pretty right now after all.

    I wonder if there’s a spare room at Equador’s London Embassy.

  62. avatar
    Keith June 8, 2013 at 2:47 am #

    GLaB: I mentioned above that I had browzer issues after visiting the Guardian website. They were duzies, too – tried to close a tab and it reopened – and reopened – and reopened …

    I haven’t had that happen to me for at least 10 years. The key to preventing it is a little plug in called a ‘pop-up blocker’. The major popular browsers have them built in now-a-days. Check your settings.

  63. avatar
    Lupin June 8, 2013 at 3:04 am #

    We French have a long and dishonorable tradition of spying on our own people, from Napoleon’s Joseph Fouché to the illicit phone taps of the 60s and 70s, so I can’t say I’m surprised youi’ve finally caught up.

    As Atrios pointed out yesterday, what did you think the 20,000 people employed by the NSA did, day in and day out?

    I’m struck by the fact that this mountain of data mining wasn’t useful in stopping the Boston Marathon bombing, despite Russian intelligence warning. But then, your services had French intelligence warnings about 9/11 and that was ignored too.

    Your FBI hasn’t seemed shy in the past when it comes to bragging about nefarious plots that it stopped beforehand (often plots it itself engineered, mind you) so I assume if there had been some real triumphs of counter-intelligence attributable to this scheme, they would have been “leaked” to justify the whole thing.

    The whole thing reminds me of your banking mortgage crisis: not a villainous masterplan with a white-cat-stroking genius in charge, but a mountain of petty thievery dreamed up by selfish, incompetent sociopaths.

    Instead of trying to stop it all, maybe you should pass a law to make the NSA analysts actually come up with solutions and/or answers and try to help those they’re spying on.

    Wouldn’t it be nice, for example, if when you’re talking on the net or VOIP with your cousin about a book the title of which you can’t remember, the NSA came on the line and said, “it’s BEN-HUR, you idiot” or something like that. That would be tax dollar well spent, I think.

  64. avatar
    Monkey Boy June 8, 2013 at 3:06 am #

    There are credible allegations government agencies have been capturing and scanning ALL emails within, coming into, and leaving the US at least since the Clinton Administration.

    Please note that the allegations were that the content of the communications were actually scanned (i.e., read) looking for certain keywords. Then if a message was red-flagged, a human would eyeball and evaluate it.
    Operation Canivore

    Carnivore was a system implemented by the Federal Bureau of Investigation that was designed to monitor email and electronic communications. It used a customizable packet sniffer that can monitor all of a target user’s Internet traffic. Carnivore was implemented in October 1997. By 2005 it had been replaced with improved commercial software such as NarusInsight.
    ….

    The FBI claimed that only court-approved targets were snooped on. (yeah, right)

  65. avatar
    charo June 8, 2013 at 6:35 am #

    Lupin: Wouldn’t it be nice, for example, if when you’re talking on the net or VOIP with your cousin about a book the title of which you can’t remember, the NSA came on the line and said, “it’s BEN-HUR, you idiot” or something like that. That would be tax dollar well spent, I think.
    avatar

    That is funny!

  66. avatar
    misha marinsky June 8, 2013 at 6:38 am #

    Lupin: Wouldn’t it be nice, for example, if when you’re talking on the net or VOIP with your cousin about a book the title of which you can’t remember, the NSA came on the line and said, “it’s BEN-HUR, you idiot” or something like that.

    Or, they would get a referral to the Intellectual Taxi Company:

    http://newyorkleftist.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-intellectual-taxi-company.html

  67. avatar
    charo June 8, 2013 at 6:52 am #

    nbc: ROTFL. This had been going on since Bush and now he pretends Congress had not been briefed..

    You’re so gullible

    The extent of the snooping seems to be at the heart of the matter. I think you should be directing your angst against those who have the strong public voices.

    When Bush was first elected, my family was living a very pared down life. It was some time during his second term that we had a computer at home or even a cell phone. I was busy with young kids. I don’t even have a facebook account now. Look at the explosion of technological communication since the Bush years. Maybe that accounts for more of the outrage.

  68. avatar
    donna June 8, 2013 at 8:19 am #

    this article reminds me how much of a “footprint” we leave behind for others to follow us and it’s not always the government –

    will i change my habits? hardly

    it ends with: “Maybe I’m not afraid enough. Or maybe it’s time to move beyond George Orwell and recognize that the many of the modern conveniences we enjoy exist because we leave electronic footprints everywhere we go. Without those footprints, we wouldn’t have those conveniences or we’d have to pay a lot more for them … and law enforcement agencies would find it harder to conduct legitimate investigations.

    George Orwell admitted he was wrong. Maybe we should too. ”

    http://www.politicususa.com/2013/06/07/george-orwell-admitted-wrong.html

    56% of us have smartphones …. the primary way many (latinos) access the internet

    (35% in May, 2011)

    http://www.intomobile.com/2013/06/05/pew-study-finds-56-americans-now-own-smartphones/

  69. avatar
    Landof 8 Balls June 8, 2013 at 1:07 pm #

    Jerks like those who post herein haven’t got a clue to how the vile turd in the White House is leading their freedoms to the abominable pit created by extremely ‘dumb’ socialist pigheaded idiots on this blog.
    The facts have shown that the White House piuk is what he said he is and what his training was in his younger years.

    That cretin in the White House is a lying, devious, criminal who hates American law, who hates christians and all infidel khafurs as stated in his in his own devious words and actions.

    The bottom line for the pea brained, moronic assholes on this blog is; “how fucking stupid can you be given all the facts provided by the mohammed idiot in the white house?

  70. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy June 8, 2013 at 1:44 pm #

    I think our recent birther commenters lack social skills just as they lack critical thinking and a grasp of facts.

  71. avatar
    donna June 8, 2013 at 1:49 pm #

    Landof 8 Balls

    do you eat with that mouth? God, what would your mother say?

    my mother would wash your mouth with soap

  72. avatar
    Andrew Vrba, PmG June 8, 2013 at 3:16 pm #

    donna:
    Landof 8 Balls

    do you eat with that mouth? God, what would your mother say?

    my mother would wash your mouth with soap

    My older sister did that to me once, I was maybe seven.
    She threatened to wash my mouth out with Dawn dish soap, if I wouldn’t stop swearing.
    …I called her bluff. Didn’t make that mistake twice.

  73. avatar
    donna June 8, 2013 at 3:23 pm #

    Andrew Vrba, PmG: …I called her bluff. Didn’t make that mistake twice.

    my mother carried a bar of soap in her purse

  74. avatar
    nbc June 8, 2013 at 3:45 pm #

    Shizzle Popped: I’m with nbc on this. I surprised that people are surprised. It’s not like we didn’t know this sort of thing was going on.

    Having said that, I believe that much of our voters are easily misled by news media and other rhetoric. Call something patriotic and people will rally behind you, abandoning any pretense of being patriotic. A bit of fear, a bit of dislike and we will roll over. It’s part of a mentality that makes people more likely to be conservative, fundamentalists in religion, fearful, and unwilling to entertain ambiguity. The whole concept of the Bible relies on obedience and the approach in many fundamentalist churches relies on the clergy being the interpreters of ‘God’s words’. Which is why for such a long time, the Bible was only available in Latin.

    People are unwilling to truly consider the full impact of their position and will quickly fall in line with the majority, rather than get involved in attempting to reason through it themselves. People who live in fear and hatred are so easy to manipulate, just look at Fox News. They excel in propaganda and misleading claims or misdirection and people will nevertheless take their claims as ‘gospel’.

    We have abandoned our ability to think and reason to for profit organizations who have no responsibiities to tell the truth.

  75. avatar
    nbc June 8, 2013 at 3:54 pm #

    Keith: I haven’t had that happen to me for at least 10 years. The key to preventing it is a little plug in called a ‘pop-up blocker’. The major popular browsers have them built in now-a-days. Check your settings.

    Pop up blocker, ad blocker, script blocker unless authorized, anonymizing tools all help making your experience far more safe. I use Firefox Aurora with plugins. No scripting when I look at sites, unless I trust certain scripting sources.

  76. avatar
    nbc June 8, 2013 at 4:01 pm #

    charo: The extent of the snooping seems to be at the heart of the matter. I think you should be directing your angst against those who have the strong public voices.

    When Bush was first elected, my family was living a very pared down life. It was some time during his second term that we had a computer at home or even a cell phone. I was busy with young kids. I don’t even have a facebook account now. Look at the explosion of technological communication since the Bush years. Maybe that accounts for more of the outrage.

    And yet the same people willingly share all their private data with Google or other providers, who are for profit and unconstrained by our Constitution. The extent of the snooping is no further when it relates to the Verizon court orders. And the NSA has always been tracking the actual internet traffic. You have no idea what you can find out by doing a deep packet analysis of the traffic, even on your local routers. Now imagine you look at the tier 1 routers through which all our internet traffic is routed, and you may imagine how trivial it is to track data between two IP addresses. We live in a world with false sense of security. We are constantly transmitting our most private data across open channels. Even SSH encoding is not safe anymore, but it presents at last a level of security. Add a VPN and you are even more secure, anonymize your traffic, add PGP to important data streams. Add a firewall which tracks outgoing data sources and validate their origins. Run a virus scanner, avoid key logging capturing your keypresses and use password filling tools with long passwords > 14 alphanumerics at least.

    This is not paranoia as much as just common practices.

  77. avatar
    Shizzle Popped June 8, 2013 at 5:17 pm #

    nbc: Having said that, I believe that much of our voters are easily misled by news media and other rhetoric.

    You’ll get no argument from me on this. It’s long been a topic of conversation in my family. The Patriot Act was passed with little objection by most Americans and now they all act shocked when they learn that it’s been implemented and the government isn’t magically just looking at data about “the bad guys”. As a nation, we were led cheering into a war with Iraq based on bad information and outright lies, by an administration that had no clue how to proceed if things didn’t go exactly to plan. There was plenty of evidence that we weren’t being told the truth before the war but the average American couldn’t be bothered to look at it. Far too many people who purport to pay attention can’t tell the difference between fact and fiction anyway. I have relatives that still believe Iraq was involved in 9/11. (War with Iraq may have eventually been necessary anyway, but it certainly wasn’t at the time.) The news media’s willingness to pass along sound bites without comment or any effort at fact checking just compounds the problem of so much of the population’s lack of intellectual curiosity. The latest trend of reporting twitter commentary as news is just proof that journalism has been abandoned in favor of entertainment. Some of the world’s darkest hours have come when the population of a powerful nation has been led willingly down the path of destruction. I no longer feel we’re immune from that fate.

    Rant over.

  78. avatar
    donna June 8, 2013 at 6:03 pm #

    Shizzle Popped:

    i ditto your rant – i wish our 24/7/365 media would confront their guests about their “truths” – perhaps have a factchecker “on board” in conjunction with the interviews

    however, as chris matthews said, “you’ll get the 1st interview but not the 2nd, 3rd”, etc and they need the interviews to fill the hot air time

    surveillance timeline

    1975 church committee documents warrantless wiretapping by nixon

    1978 foreign intelligence surveillance act establishes FISA court – allows wiretaps of foreigners, “agents of foreign power” introduced by ted kennedy & signed by carter

    1979 As for the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable searches, the Supreme Court held (Smith v. Maryland) that there is no legitimate expectation of privacy for phone records that are held by a third party, which can be seized without a warrant.

    1994 congress amends FISA to allow physical searches of homes in the wake of aldrich ames spy case

    1999 FISA amended to add business records of suspected “agents of foreign power”

    2000 “agents of foreign power” definition expanded to include people who obtain a fake ID

    2001 patriot act broadly expands when FIAA powers used, eliminates safeguards against abuse

    2002 FISA expanded to allow attorney general to wait 72 hours (not 24) before seeking FISA court order …………. that’s AFTER the spying begins

    2004 “lone wolf” provision added and “foreign power” requirements for targeting dropped ….. it now includes americans

    2007 project america act strips warrant requirement, adds 72 hour “notification” of FISA court

  79. avatar
    misha marinsky June 8, 2013 at 6:49 pm #

    Landof 8 Balls:extremely ‘dumb’ socialist pigheaded idiots on this blog.

    You forgot to say communist and Marxist. You’re welcome.

    Landof 8 Balls:who hates christians

    Bush confidant Pastor Ted Haggard to non-Christians: ‘Get out.’

    “Pastor Ted, who talks to President George W. Bush or his advisers every Monday…He likes to say that his only disagreement with the President is automotive; Bush drives a Ford pickup, whereas Pastor Ted loves his Chevy.

    He moved the church to a strip mall. There was a bar, a liquor store, New Life Church, a massage parlor. His congregation spilled out and blocked the other businesses. He set up chairs in the alley. He strung up a banner: SIEGE THIS CITY FOR ME, signed JESUS. He assigned everyone in the church names from the phone book they were to pray for. He sent teams to pray in front of the homes of supposed witches—in one month, ten out of fifteen of his targets put their houses on the market. His congregation “prayer-walked” nearly every street of the city.

    http://www.academia.edu/2541817/Soldiers_of_Christ

    Landof 8 Balls:the facts provided by the mohammed idiot in the white house

    US Constitution, Article VI, paragraph 3: “… no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

  80. avatar
    Andrew Vrba, PmG June 8, 2013 at 7:25 pm #

    misha marinsky: You forgot to say communist and Marxist. You’re welcome.

    Bush confidant Pastor Ted Haggard to non-Christians: ‘Get out.’

    “Pastor Ted, who talks to President George W. Bush or his advisers every Monday…He likes to say that his only disagreement with the President is automotive; Bush drives a Ford pickup, whereas Pastor Ted loves his Chevy.

    He moved the church to a strip mall. There was a bar, a liquor store, New Life Church, a massage parlor. His congregation spilled out and blocked the other businesses. He set up chairs in the alley. He strung up a banner: SIEGE THIS CITY FOR ME, signed JESUS. He assigned everyone in the church names from the phone book they were to pray for. He sent teams to pray in front of the homes of supposed witches—in one month, ten out of fifteen of his targets put their houses on the market. His congregation “prayer-walked” nearly every street of the city.

    Huh, so prayer is meant to be used like some kind of weapon, and making brown people go away? And here I was using it for stupid stuff like asking for clarity and guidance. Wow, is my face red!

  81. avatar
    Rickey June 8, 2013 at 8:55 pm #

    Landof 8 Balls:

    That cretin in the White House is a lying, devious, criminal who hates American law

    This apparently comes as news to you, but George W. Bush hasn’t been in the White House since 2009.

  82. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy June 8, 2013 at 9:24 pm #

    For the record, I have always been uneasy about the Patriot Act; however, it is this particular story that brings it within the scope of this blog.

    But as I read the story, it is something new. What is alleged is that certain major Internet companies have provided access to their servers and the content stored thereon, and that they have done it for some reason not related to a court order, secret or not. And as I said in my story, there is a fundamental contradiction between what the Guardian article claims, and what the Internet companies are saying.

    Shizzle Popped: The Patriot Act was passed with little objection by most Americans and now they all act shocked when they learn that it’s been implemented and the government isn’t magically just looking at data about “the bad guys”.

  83. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy June 8, 2013 at 9:27 pm #

    I have a good mind to put some files on various servers encrypted so well that the NSA can’t read them, just for the hell of it.

  84. avatar
    donna June 8, 2013 at 10:09 pm #

    WAPO has an great interactive timeline:

    Electronic surveillance under Presidents Bush and Obama

    A timeline of surveillance in the United States from 2001 to 2013: from the Patriot Act to the PRISM program.

    http://apps.washingtonpost.com/g/page/national/electronic-surveillance-under-presidents-bush-and-obama/213/

  85. avatar
    Shizzle Popped June 8, 2013 at 11:07 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    But as I read the story, it is something new.

    The nature of secret agencies running secret programs overseen by secret courts is that we may never know exactly what’s going on. While some of this may be necessary in a modern society, the technology that makes these vast data stores useful in hunting terrorist threats also makes it easy to abuse the information for other purposes. Of course, you can build safeguards into the system that track every transaction, but in a system buried this deep in secrecy who’s looking over their shoulder; secret auditors?

  86. avatar
    MN-Skeptic June 8, 2013 at 11:37 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    I have a good mind to put some files on various servers encrypted so well that the NSA can’t read them, just for the hell of it.

    Orly’s pile of poo! Even when they decrypt it, they’ll believe there is another level of encryption in place because it is still unintelligible.

  87. avatar
    JPotter June 9, 2013 at 12:59 am #

    MN-Skeptic: Orly’s pile of poo!

    No need to encrypt that! Hide it right in the open. “It makes no sense, it must be an encoded message … !”

    On all the alleged surveillance … dark arts, tempatations, once possible, become probable. It’s all giving in to fear. Particularly the fear of the unknown: what might happen if we don’t give in to the dark side? Cold War flashback: if we must arm ourselves to protect us from the enemies who insist on arming themselves to countering our arms!

    Fear-based prophecies are self-fullfilling.

  88. avatar
    Lupin June 9, 2013 at 3:33 am #

    Dr. Conspiracy: I have a good mind to put some files on various servers encrypted so well that the NSA can’t read them, just for the hell of it.

    Somehow I doubt there is anything that the NSA cannot decrypt, if they decide to do so. They do have the best experts in the world.

    I

  89. avatar
    misha marinsky June 9, 2013 at 3:42 am #

    Dr. Conspiracy: I have a good mind to put some files on various servers encrypted so well that the NSA can’t read them, just for the hell of it.

    Pretty Good Privacy: http://cryptography.org/getpgp.htm

  90. avatar
    Keith June 9, 2013 at 7:43 am #

    Lupin: Somehow I doubt there is anything that the NSA cannot decrypt, if they decide to do so. They do have the best experts in the world.

    I

    So how come they can’t fake a birth certificate well enough to fool a used car salesman?

  91. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy June 9, 2013 at 7:57 am #

    A one-time pad cypher with a random key cannot be broken.

    Lupin: Somehow I doubt there is anything that the NSA cannot decrypt, if they decide to do so. They do have the best experts in the world.

  92. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy June 9, 2013 at 8:03 am #

    In our form of government, there are 4 checks and balances, the Executive, the Legislative, the Judicial and the Press.

    When secrecy is invoked, the Press is dealt out. With secret courts and no transparency there, the Judicial branch is compromised. That leaves us with the Executive and the Legislative. I don’t trust the current Congress at all, which leaves everything on the good will of the President. That’s pretty slim protection if we ever got a RWNJ president.

    Shizzle Popped: Of course, you can build safeguards into the system that track every transaction, but in a system buried this deep in secrecy who’s looking over their shoulder; secret auditors?

  93. avatar
    Majority Will June 9, 2013 at 10:53 am #

    Shizzle Popped: Of course, you can build safeguards into the system that track every transaction, but in a system buried this deep in secrecy who’s looking over their shoulder; secret auditors?

    Who was watching Robert Hanssen or Aldrich Ames?

  94. avatar
    Monkey Boy June 9, 2013 at 6:27 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    A one-time pad cypher with a random key cannot be broken.

    A well designed private key system that doesn’t repeat keys, and has a period longer than the message is, in practice, unbreakable–unless the key can be predicted.

    A rotor-based system using (arbitrarily decided) ten rotors that are pseudo-randomly rotated is such a system. I devised such a system, but got bogged down trying to determine whether my random number generator was sufficiently secure.

    Just a few days ago, I decided to revive the effort using the java RNG (48-bit seed) converted to C. I believe that by using an unknown (to an analyst) number of seeds and associated threads to generate numbers and XORing the outputs to a single value, population of the rotors will be secure enough.

    Also, I think that I’ll take a few courses in number theory at either, Simon Fraser or UBC, since tuition is waived for over 65s here.

    When I finish it, Doc, you can be the guinea pig to test the efficacy of it.

  95. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy June 9, 2013 at 6:56 pm #

    I’m not sure how I would test it, not being a cryptographer myself.

    As for random keys, I thought I would just record the frogs croaking in the front yard, then MPG encode it and then encrypt it. That should be pretty unpredictable.

    Monkey Boy: When I finish it, Doc, you can be the guinea pig to test the efficacy of it.

  96. avatar
    Monkey Boy June 9, 2013 at 7:59 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    I’m not sure how I would test it, not being a cryptographer myself.

    As for random keys, I thought I would just record the frogs croaking in the front yard, then MPG encode it and then encrypt it. That should be pretty unpredictable.

    Of course, I recognize the joke, but, in a serious vein, truly random events simply won’t do since the encryption key has to be recreated by the addressee; hence, TRULY random generation is not satisfactory.

  97. avatar
    Keith June 9, 2013 at 8:35 pm #

    Monkey Boy: Of course, I recognize the joke, but, in a serious vein, truly random events simply won’t do since the encryption key has to be recreated by the addressee; hence, TRULY random generation is not satisfactory.

    He never said anything about wanting to decrypt it. He just wants to drive Big Brother nuts.

  98. avatar
    JPotter June 9, 2013 at 8:59 pm #

    How does Doc intend to get BB’s attention?