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[Dec 28, 2014] Snowden Documents Show How Well NSA Codebreakers Can Pry

Dec 28, 2014 | Slashdot

Der Spiegel has published today an excellent summary of what some of Edward Snowden's revelations show about the difficulty (or, generally, ease) with which the NSA and collaborating intelligence services can track, decrypt, and correlate different means of online communication. An interesting slice:

The NSA and its allies routinely intercept [HTTPS] connections -- by the millions. According to an NSA document, the agency intended to crack 10 million intercepted https connections a day by late 2012. The intelligence services are particularly interested in the moment when a user types his or her password. By the end of 2012, the system was supposed to be able to "detect the presence of at least 100 password based encryption applications" in each instance some 20,000 times a month. For its part, Britain's GCHQ collects information about encryption using the TLS and SSL protocols -- the protocols https connections are encrypted with -- in a database called "FLYING PIG." The British spies produce weekly "trends reports" to catalog which services use the most SSL connections and save details about those connections. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Hotmail, Yahoo and Apple's iCloud service top the charts, and the number of catalogued SSL connections for one week is in the many billions -- for the top 40 sites alone. ...

The NSA also has a program with which it claims it can sometimes decrypt the Secure Shell protocol (SSH). This is typically used by systems administrators to log into employees' computers remotely, largely for use in the infrastructure of businesses, core Internet routers and other similarly important systems. The NSA combines the data collected in this manner with other information to leverage access to important systems of interest.

this is disgusting Insightful)
by Anonymous Coward this is truly disgusting
Re:Do users really care? Anonymous Coward writes: on Sunday December 28, 2014 @04:06PM
Some people care, and you should care, since the information can and will be used to your detriment any time there is profit in it.

Snowden did us a favor. We owe him one in return.

Bring Snowden Home []

Sign it.

Re:Do users really care? (Score:4, Interesting)

[Nov 03, 2014] Does your phone company track you? by Julia Angwin and Jeff Larson

Nov 3 2014 | Ars Technica

Twitter's mobile ad arm lets clients use a hidden tracking number created by Verizon.

Wired and Forbes reported earlier this week that the two largest cell phone carriers in the United States, Verizon and AT&T, are adding the tracking number to their subscribers' Internet activity, even when users opt out. The data can be used by any site-even those with no relationship to the telecoms-to build a dossier about a person's behavior on mobile devices, including which apps they use, what sites they visit, and how long. MoPub, acquired by Twitter in 2013, bills itself as the "world's largest mobile ad exchange." It uses Verizon's tag to track and target cellphone users for ads, according to instructions for software developers posted on its website.

Twitter declined to comment. AT&T said that its actions are part of a test. Verizon says it doesn't sell information about the demographics of people who have opted out.

This controversial type of tracking, known in industry jargon as header enrichment, is the latest step in the mobile industry's quest to track users on their devices. Google has proposed a new standard for Internet services that, among other things, would prevent header enrichment.

People using apps on tablets and smartphones present a challenge for companies that want to track behavior so they can target ads. Unlike on desktop computers, where users tend to connect to sites using a single Web browser that can be easily tracked by "cookies," users on smartphones and tablets use many different apps that do not share information with each other.

For a while, ad trackers solved this problem by using a number that was built into each smartphone by Apple and Google. But under pressure from privacy critics, both companies took steps to secure these Device IDs and began allowing their users to delete them, in the same way they could delete cookies in their desktop Web browser.

So the search for a better way to track mobile users continued. In 2010, two European telecom engineers proposed an Internet standard for telecom companies to track their users with a new kind of unique identifier. The proposal was eventually adopted as a standard by an industry group called the Open Mobile Alliance.

Telecoms began racing to find ways to use the new identifier. Telecom equipment makers such as Cisco and Juniper began offering systems that allow the identifiers to be injected into mobile traffic.

In the spring of 2012, AT&T applied for a patent for a method of inserting a "shortlived subscriber identifier" into Web traffic of its mobile subscribers, and Verizon applied for a patent for inserting a "unique identification header" into its subscriber's traffic. The Verizon patent claims this header is specifically meant to "provide content that is targeted to a subscriber."

Inserting the identifiers requires the telecom carrier to modify the information that flows out of a user's phone. AT&T's patent acknowledges that it would be impossible to insert the identifier into Web traffic if it were encrypted using HTTPS, but it offers an easy solution-to instruct Web servers to force phones to use an unencrypted connection.

In the fall of 2012, Verizon notified users that it would begin selling "aggregating customer data that has already been de-identified"-such as Web-browsing history and location-and offered users an opt-out. In 2013, AT&T launched its version-a plan to offer "anonymous AT&T data" to allow advertiser to "deliver the most relevant messages to consumers." The company also updated its privacy policy to offer an opt-out.

AT&T's program eventually shut down. Company spokesman Mark Siegel said that AT&T is currently inserting the identifiers as part of a "test" for a possible future "relevant advertising" service. "We are considering such a program, and any program we would offer would maintain our fundamental commitment to customer privacy," he said. He added that the identifier changes every 24 hours.

It's not clear how much of a hurdle changing the identifier would present to a targeting company that was assembling a dossier of a user's behavior.

Meanwhile, Verizon's service-Precision Market Insights-has become popular among ad tracking companies that specialize in building profiles' of user behavior and creating customized ads for those users. Companies that buy the Verizon service can ask Verizon for additional information about the people whose unique identifiers they observe.

"What we're excited about is the carrier level ID, a higher-level recognition point that lets us track with certainty when a user, who is connected to a given carrier, moves from an app to a mobile Web landing page," an executive from ad tracking company Run told an industry trade publication.

And in a promotional video for Verizon's service, ad executive Chris Smith at Turn touted "the accuracy of the data" the company receives from Verizon.

But advertisers who don't pay Verizon for additional information still receive the identifier. A Verizon spokeswoman said, "We do not provide any data related to the [unique identifier] without customer consent and we change the [unique identifier] on a regular basis to prevent third parties from building profiles against it." She declined to say how often Verizon changes the identifier.

The use of carrier-level identifiers appears to be becoming standard. Vodafone, a British telecom, says it inserts a similar identifier into some mobile traffic. A Vodafone spokesman said, "Header enrichment is not our default operation and we do not routinely share information with the websites our customers visit."

However, ProPublica found a handful of Vodafone identifiers in its logs of website visitors. That review also showed more than two-thirds of AT&T and Verizon visitors to ProPublica's website contained mobile identifiers.

And there appears to be no way to opt out. Last week, security engineer Kenn White noticed an Ad Age news article about Verizon's mobile marketing program and set up a test server to see if he was being tracked. He opted out years ago but noticed a strange identifier in the Web traffic from his phone. His tweets sparked a flurry of discussion of Verizon's actions on the Hacker News discussion board and articles in the technology press.

Software engineer Dan Schmads, an AT&T user, also tried to opt out. He found that he needed to visit four different webpages to opt out, including one webpage not even on AT&T's domain: But he continues to see the AT&T identifier in his mobile traffic.

AT&T's Siegel told ProPublica that he appreciated the feedback on the difficulty of opting out and that the company plans to streamline the process before launching its service.

"Before we do any new program, we'll give customers the opportunity to reset their mobile ID at any time," he said. "It would be like clearing cookies."

Google has proposed a new Internet protocol called SPDY that would prevent these types of header injections, much to the dismay of many telecom companies who are lobbying against it. In May, a Verizon executive made a presentation describing how Google's proposal could "limit value-add services that are based on access to header" information.



Google has proposed a new Internet protocol called SPDY that would prevent these types of header injections, much to the dismay of many telecom companies who are lobbying against it. In May, a Verizon executive made a presentation describing how Google's proposal could "limit value-add services that are based on access to header" information.

I remember that talk back in May. At the time I wondered how long until we learned more about that. I guess we now know.


I guess all that juicy data will be handed over to Feds without warrant, right?


Of course they do. There's ad money to be made tracking users. So the answer is YES. Just follow the money and it will lead to answers.

Solomonoff's Secret

Intercepting and modifying a user's traffic is insidious. It's time for all sites (that includes Ars) to switch to HTTPS to force the carriers to be dumb pipes.

On another note, anyone know if T-Mobile does this?

beebeeArs Scholae Palatinae

"For a while, ad trackers solved this problem by using a number that was built into each smartphone by Apple and Google. But under pressure from privacy critics, both companies took steps to secure these Device IDs and began allowing their users to delete them, in the same way they could delete cookies in their desktop Web browser."

I guess I'm the last to know why apps that seeming didn't need to know my device ID always requested it. Of course I just say no and unchecked the device ID box.

Targeted ads are dubious at best. For one thing, if you do a search for an item, then buy it, the tracking has no idea you actually bought the item. So you get advertisement for the next month for something you already purchased.


For those not aware, Google's SPDY is the basis of HTTP/2 (formerly HTTP 2.0). It's not identical, but will keep the "fixed" header from SPDY that these ISPs have been abusing. It's due for adoption in the next year, so this avenue of data mining is going to close quicker than DeviceID did the last time around.

Ad Blocker


Wired and Forbes reported earlier this week that the two largest cell phone carriers in the United States, Verizon and AT&T, are adding the tracking number to their subscribers' Internet activity, even when users opt out.

This sentence probably would have made more sense if you had not omitted the preceding sentence from the original article:


Twitter's mobile advertising arm enables its clients to use a hidden, undeletable tracking number created by Verizon to track user behavior on smartphones and tablets.

[Oct 19, 2014] The state wants to spy on us – but is it up to the job? by John Naughton

The key issue here is "Who is serving whom ?". Are intelligence agencies a tool of oligarchy or not. And you probably already know the answer.
Oct 18, 2014 |

First, what could we do to curb comprehensive surveillance of the net? The internet engineering community seems determined to do something about it. In its current form, the network is wide open to snooping, because most of its operations are not encrypted. At the Vancouver 2013 meeting of the Internet Engineering Task Force there were discussions about ways of inserting so much cryptographic treacle into the network's operations that the NSA would have to work much harder to surveil it, thereby forcing snoopers to adopt more targeted approaches that would be amenable to credible legal oversight. This won't be easy to do, but there's enough technical ingenuity in the community to pull it off.

Even if they did, however, that wouldn't be the end of the matter, because lots of unsavoury things go on in cyberspace, and it would be unthinkable not to allow access to communications for law enforcement and national security purposes. Which means that democracies need oversight regimes that are effective, technically competent and enjoy public trust. The fallout from Snowden suggests that the oversight regimes in most democracies currently lack some or all of these properties. Fixing that requires political action, and therein lies our biggest problem.

The most depressing thing about the political response to the revelations is how crass and simplistic they have been. First we had the yah-boo phase: Snowden was a traitor; the revelations dramatically undermined "national security"; anyone who applauds what he did is a naive idiot; if you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to fear, etc. These are the philosophical equivalent of the debates that go on in bars after Premier League matches.

The good news is that we have moved on a bit from such inanities. The political debate is now framed in terms of a "balance" to be struck between security and privacy, as if it were a matter of piling fruit on both sides of weighing scales and seeing which way the needle points. But security and privacy are very different concepts. Security is a function of two things: the scale of a possible harm and the probability that it will happen. Some possible dangers are so great that even if their probability is low then extreme measures are justified. Other potential harms are smaller but more probable. In thinking about surveillance and counter-terrorism we need some way of reaching collectively agreed judgments about how the "balance" should be struck.

Likewise privacy has a value for both individuals and for society as a whole; it is also culturally and domain-dependent (we have different expectations of privacy in different locations). And the standard official line on privacy at the moment – that "people obviously don't care much about it, otherwise they wouldn't be on Facebook" – won't wash, because people give their consent to Facebook, whereas none of us clicked "agree" to the hoovering up of our communications data.

Finally, there's the question that is never discussed. Is this bulk surveillance actually effective? Is there credible evidence – as distinct from bland assurances by officials – that it actually works? Why, despite all the snooping, for example, did our intelligence services not pick up the Islamic State threat? And how cost-effective is it? The US currently spends over $100bn a year on counter-terrorism. God alone knows how much the UK spends. Are we getting real value for all this taxpayers' money? I'd like to know. Wouldn't you?

AmyInNH , 19 October 2014 1:42am

ps - Hayden has finally calmed down and acknowledged, mass surveillance and privacy rights are at direct odds with each other.

Warrants for probable cause was the balance.

imipak , 19 October 2014 2:52am
If the good guys (whoever they may be, I'm unsure at the moment I know of any) can break in, then so can the bad guys. That's simply a fact of life. For every theft prevented, a theft or ten may take place for precisely the same reason. For every time a cop rescues a kidnap victim by intercepting communications, a predator will locate a victim to kidnap by precisely the same strategy.

This is no different from the argument over guns. They have to be put beyond the reach of everyone, America is what happens when you don't.

Some might argue that the police need these tools. No they don't. The French lacked any form of encryption or privacy for individuals for a long time. Can you show me the case files where this mattered? Can you point to crime statistics where the lack of person-to-person security in France demonstrably resulted in lower crime rates or greater clean-up rates than achieved in nations where PGP (PGPi in Europe, for patent reasons) was available for download?

Rather, consider this. Each and every major miscarriage of justice - in the US, UK, France, or anywhere else - can be linked directly to an urge to close a case quickly rather than correctly. Every single time the police take short-cuts, it ends in tragedy for those wrongly accused. You don't want to give the police even more short-cuts, you want to force them to carry out greater diligence, more thorough scrutiny, more substantial policing. In other words, you want evidence. Hard evidence.

No. Giving police or anyone else back-doors into the Internet is a recipe for disaster. Those back-doors will find their way to cybercriminals and foreign cyberwarfare units -- the guys you really do NOT want being able to manipulate the computers at a major national bank or an Internet-connected nuclear power plant. If the police can intercept, then criminals can inject. Too bad if you don't like it, if you enter that kind of an arms race, you WILL lose. Even if you win, you will still lose.

Police should be better-funded, better-staffed and better-equipt.

None of this 12-marker DNA carp by some back-alley sequencing vendor, each regional police force should have their own microarray sequencer and supporting hardware, with their own on-staff expert and on-staff assistants.

None of this external forensics nonsense, they should have their own chemistry lab, their own ballistics lab -- whatever they need, they should have it. Right there, right then, with the experts required on-hand. No delays, no G4S mishaps, no risks of miscommunication, no doing things on the cheap.

If you're going to do it, do it right.

No police force should ever be "stretched". No volunteers should ever be needed. Give each police force the money and power to do the job needed, with quality.

Those, ultimately, are your choices for law enforcement. A cheap, penny-pinching service that likes hacking Internet traffic and doesn't give a damn about wrongful arrests, OR an expensive, elite service that likes being damn-near perfect on damn-near everything and removes actual bad guys from the streets.

If you choose the latter, then the Internet Problem is simple. Everything should be bullet-proof. From home users to Home Office users, nobody breaks in. No way, no how.

Can it be done? It's not easy. Only One Time Pads are provably unbreakable, but they're also provably worthless. You can, however, get as close as you like. And, with modern understanding of writing secure software, that's very close indeed. It won't be bomb-proof, but it will be bullet-proof. And that's good enough. Even for those nuclear power stations stupid enough to go on the Internet.

Jacobsadder , 19 October 2014 3:01am

"Mercifully, we have moved on a bit since then. The important thing now, it seems to me, is to consider a new question: given what we now know, what should we do about it? What could we realistically do? Will we, in fact, do anything? And if the latter, where are we heading as democracies?"

Do we need to do anything about it? The ability to spy on individual personal information is one thing but what they do with the information gleaned is entirely another. Just a hypothetical example, if I sent an email to a friend telling him/her that I have some dodgy 'whiskey galore' type beverage for sale cheap and the next day the police swooped down on me and tried arrested me for said offense, then I'd know the authorities obtained that information by invading my privacy. If that became a common phenomenon then I'd suggest that a disgruntled public just might start to mount a mass misinformation email, text, social media campaign just to piss them off. Can you imagine all those millions of misleading messages being swept up by the authorities and the time it'd take for them to sift through looking for something meaningful? I should imagine they have enough difficulty now, so prolifigate are messages sent thus far, which is precisely why they failed to recognise the ISIS threat.

From a personal perspective I don't mind them learning what colour socks I wear from my emails - obviously I'd prefer them not to snoop, but if they must then I'd be more worried about how they attempted to use that information against me.

From the perspective of identifying threats to national or global security, then the same pretty much applies. The word 'bananas' may become code for AK47's for all I know, for one day at least. That's the problem with surveillance, counter surveillance, and counter counter surveillance, each method used in terms of investigation will inevitably be countered by other methods in terms of perpetration.

In the final analysis, all will have to depend on good ol' fashioned police work using a multitude of methods to detect and usurp the eternal Lex Luthers of this world. In the meantime, anyone wanna buy some cheap Glenmorangie? We'll drink a toast to the memory of Alan Turing who'll no doubt be up above pissing his sides at the lunacy of it all.

IGiveTheWatchToYou , 19 October 2014 3:09am
If we do the sensible thing and encrypt the web we should at least make sure that the NSA & GCHQ don't still have access to the development of algorithms. It wasn't till May this year that Congress supposedly blocked the NSA from meddling with encryption standards. I was almost optimistic till I read this -

"Having lost a public battle in the 1990s to insert its own "back door" in all encryption, it set out to accomplish the same goal by stealth. The agency, according to the documents and interviews with industry officials, deployed custom-built, superfast computers to break codes, and began collaborating with technology companies in the United States and abroad to build entry points into their products. The documents do not identify which companies have participated."

They've been subverting encryption practice since the 90s "covertly introducing weaknesses." They're way ahead of the rest of us in cracking encryption when we use it. And they''re still threatening and bribing foreign companies to put in backdoors. It's gone way beyond reasonable. What use is private data if some stranger has a copy of it? Especially if the stranger is an inherently hostile and unaccountable government agency.

Even if we do encrypt something - "The N.S.A. hacked into target computers to snare messages before they were encrypted."

All our base are belong to them.

If we want reliable encryption clearly we have to cripple the NSA and GCHQ first. Sack 90% of them and cut their budget by the same, raid their data centres and erase intel gathered on every citizen who's not under investigation or charge, find out what they've backdoored under court warrants, amnesty & meaningful jailtime, and impeach the FVEY ringleaders and waterbucket challenge some confessions out of them. It's either that or mission creep into a pretty obvious totalitarian future.

Albs , 19 October 2014 3:20am

"if you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to fear" [or other shite along the same lines]

Strange how times have changed and things have turned around. I never recall western governments in the 80s having expressed the same opinion when the Stasi had their extensive and subversive surveillance system on the go.

'Kin hypocrites.

SteB1 , 19 October 2014 4:23am
What excellent analysis from John Naughton. It's a breath of fresh air in all the cloying nonsense about this matter.

Finally, there's the question that is never discussed. Is this bulk surveillance actually effective? Is there credible evidence – as distinct from bland assurances by officials – that it actually works? Why, despite all the snooping, for example, did our intelligence services not pick up the Islamic State threat? And how cost-effective is it? The US currently spends over $100bn a year on counter-terrorism. God alone knows how much the UK spends. Are we getting real value for all this taxpayers' money? I'd like to know. Wouldn't you?

Yes, this is my concern, and what I'd like to know. However my very strong impression is that mass intelligence gathering might actually be counter-productive, and less effective than old fashioned targeted intelligence. This is where I believe the circumstantial evidence points to.

It defies common sense that the authorities already overlook so many leads, because they can't follow up everything, yet they also bizarrely claim that if they collect far more irrelevant data, that somehow the relevant date will become more apparent. It's clear the authorities have to prioritize what intelligence is followed up, and naturally many mistakes are made. The more data you have, the more mistakes you will make. Straight forward probability tells you that.

cpdukes SteB1 , 19 October 2014 3:00pm
You give credit where none is due. Are these governments and agencies actually pursuing intelligence for the purposes they state? Where is the concrete evidence? Are money, power and control more likely their motivations?

edgeofdrabness SteB1 , 19 October 2014 5:41pm

there's the question that is never discussed. Is this bulk surveillance actually effective? Is there credible evidence – as distinct from bland assurances by officials – that it actually works? Why, despite all the snooping, for example, did our intelligence services not pick up the Islamic State threat?

It is a good question but it isn't "never discussed", though it's certainly not discussed enough.

The oversimplified answer is that mass surveillance (vs targeted surveillance) produces so many false positives that it is a waste of time. Source: amongst other places, BBC R4's excellent More Or Less series covered this in reasonable detail in May 2013, still available on Listen Against:
or if you prefer to read rather than listen, the same material ended up on the BBC News website a week or two later:

Here's a sample (and a precaution against link-rot):

Imagine that the intelligence services had unlimited resources and could monitor everyone's phone lines.

Imagine they could detect would-be terrorists within the first three words they utter on the phone with a 99% degree of accuracy.

There would just be one small problem, according to Howard Wainer, Distinguished Research Scientist at the National Board of Medical Examiners in the United States.

Suppose there are 3,000 terrorists in the United States, he says. If the software is 99% accurate, you would be able to pick up almost all of them - 99% of them. However if you were listening to everybody - all 300 million US citizens - 1% of the general population are going to be picked up by mistake.

"So mixed in with the 3,000 true terrorists that you've identified are going to be the three million completely innocent people, who are now being sent off to Guantanamo Bay," Wainer says.

That is, for every terrorist you would have 999 innocent, but very angry people.

MrLeml , 19 October 2014 5:43am

The only "National Security" there is; is maintaining and expanding a strong middle class and shared prosperity.

All this other BS is nothing more than the ruling Oligarchy giving its corrupt security forces more tools to keep those who do the actual work, under the ruling Oligarchy's boot heel.

normko MrLeml , 19 October 2014 6:17am
Thank you for cutting through the BS. This is exactly the story. The elite oligarchs are smoke screening the citizens with their money and using the goons they hire to subvert the constitution and the so-called democracy. But as long as the citizens have cheap gasoline and hamburgers with French fries they'll be happy to let the rulers continue to rape the third world and destroy the planet.
bluecamels , 19 October 2014 8:52am
'And the standard official line on privacy at the moment – that "people obviously don't care much about it, otherwise they wouldn't be on Facebook" – won't wash, because people give their consent to Facebook'

Whose official line is this?

Most people have no idea what most of the major internet players do with their data, let alone having consented to it. Someone might post a comment on Facebook, but that is some way short of the data that being collected and shared without our consent as we browse the internet. We do not consent to the vast majority of data that is collected about us, we instead agree to extremely long and deliberately complicated privacy policies.

And corporations lose far more data than Governments - they are just better at keeping quiet about it.

memeroots , 19 October 2014 8:59am
Hmm - considering the data that companies hold and the limited security around it... I'd be very supprised if the nsa didn't have free access.

They probably only ask 'broad' questions to hide the fact they already know the data specifically and simply need to get a dump that is able to be presented in a court of law.

Noleader , 19 October 2014 9:19am

it would be unthinkable not to allow access to communications for law enforcement and national security purposes.

It would be ideal to not allow them access to our communications. Police work was done long before the police had the ability to listen in on conversations. Add to that anyone with half a brain knows that if you are going to do dirt the last thing you do is talk around any technology.

To argue that the state needs access to our communications to protect us ignores that they would need to suspect a person of a crime long before they accessed those communications (get a warrant). At which point they already suspect something is up so they stand just as good a chance of under minding the criminal activity with or without access to the communications (You know placing bugs, following suspects, check banking history, etc.. after getting a court order to do so).

nearthethames , 19 October 2014 9:30am
James Comey, the new director of the FBI, argued recently that Apple and Google adding encryption and thus frustrating access by the FBI, NSA, CIA etc, was in his view like car manufacturers lock all car trunks permanently and safe makers making all safes unable to be opened, to which he added "and that will prevent law enforcement from catching the bad guys."

The big difference, James, is that law enforcement are not physically going into every trunk and every safe and every bedroom (albeit they'd no doubt like to) so if you want to have more public trust that your surveillance is measured and genuinely approved by an independent judge (and not a FISA "court" judge) then go after only the communications of those for whom your officers can assert probably cause. The world now accepts and believes, despite protestations, that mass surveillance does indeed occur, and so of course ordinary people are going to prefer technology that has encryption built in. Being caught not only carrying out mass surveillance but lying about it too initially, has only hastened the public's appetite for encryption.

johhnybgood , 19 October 2014 9:42am
There is only one reason for this total surveillance -fear. The PTB know full well what is coming because the plans have been in the pipeline for decades. It has nothing whatever to do with "keeping us safe" -it is more a case of keeping themselves safe. The transfer of wealth to the super rich elite is reaching its end; there is little left to steal. They know there will be a backlash when the crash comes, and they have put in place means to deal with the inevitable public revolt.
What they have failed to anticipate though, is the global awakening in consciousness which is occurring at a rapid rate, and which cannot be stopped.
There is an unseen battle for hearts and minds going on, and there will only be one winner. The light will prevail.
hugsandpuppies , 19 October 2014 11:10am
There is such a thing as a comepetent spy?

I'd direct you to the Adam Curtis blog where he has a fascinating history of UK espionage over the last century. You would not be surprised to discover that it involves cranks, fools and utter incompetence with pernicous side effects tom match.

Berg206 , 19 October 2014 1:01pm
My guess is that the purpose is not to survey but to frustrate. Making it clear that every computer can be hacked, that all phone calls, texts, emails and data transfers can be intercepted, and that every cell phone can be tracked, forces hardcore criminals and terrorists into working without them. They have to physically associate with each other: they can be followed, watched, bugged, tricked, turned. Isn't that how MI5 managed to get half the membership of the IRA Army Council working for them?
Guezdan , 19 October 2014 1:29pm

In my own Federal law enforcement agency, which had its origins in 1789, we are still struggling to digest the consequent jurisdictional purview overlaps created by the infamous and ironically named Patriot Act. Bottom line: as with everything else in American history, whenever a principle encounters the bottom line and profiteering, that principle is doomed. There are such big bucks to be made in selling scare tactic based "solutions", a lesson learned at Hitler's knee, that some of us have become positively addicted to the cash flow, as if it were green heroin. Why, in my very organisation, there are private attorneys who have sold their law practices and bought their way into a political plum job in exchange for the President to grandfather them in as Assistant Commissioner, this despite any significant law enforcement experience. And then these very people have had videos made by the propaganda ministry for internal and external consumption to big them up and obfuscate their employment's true attribution...

GoredToDeath , 19 October 2014 2:00pm

The state wants to spy on us – but is it up to the job?

The answer is no, it isn't... but that job will be outsourced to private agencies and None Governmental organizations.

The whole reason behind ALL PARTIES in Government, (Liberal, Labor & Greens) pushing this Orwellian agenda through, is because all parties have been mandated by lobbyists (Not the electorate, not the people, not us but 'corporation lobbyists') to prop-up and reinforce the new corporate state authority laws, as laid out by the TPP (or Trans Pacific Partnership).

The Corporations [this includes banks] rule the world now, and they do not want competition in any way shape or form, this isn't Capitalism anymore, this is Monopoly. Insider trading, insider dealing and insider knowledge of everyone and everything, nothing is to be left to chance in this New World Order.

The Spying will be privatized and all the dirty little secrets will be sold from one dealer to the next and when they have enough dirt on you, even your imprisonment will be commodified and out sourced.

Go back to sleep Australia – someone out there will be up to the job.

cpdukes , 19 October 2014 2:49pm
There is no "balance between national security and our right to privacy" issue. The US Stasi have yet to demonstrate that any of this domestic spying has in any way contributed anyone's safety, indeed, quite the opposite. Why media continue to buy into this phoney trope is beyond me.
SleepyPixie , 19 October 2014 8:02pm

I've wondered, too, what on earth they do with the mountain of information they collect; they don't seem effective at distilling any of it into anything meaningful or helpful, at least when it matters most. It's like wanting to know something specific about nudibranch DNA and reading everything about world history in the vague hope of finding something relevant.

Sofia Diaz , 20 October 2014 12:43am
Hey guys check this tutorial to record Skype Video Calls

Julian Assange: "Google has become evil"

The leader of Wikileaks, speaks about his new book on the giant of the web. That controls our personal data in accordance with Us foreign policy and the establishment of the intelligence. And ends up behaving like the Nsa

Sept 15, 2014 |

Let's start with your meeting with Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen. In your book, you write that on a personal level those people are very nice, but if the future of the Internet will be controlled by Google, then everyone should worry. Why you came to this conclusion?

"Over the last 15 years, Google has grown inside the internet as a parasite. Internet browsing, social networking, maps, satellites, drones -- Google on your phone, on your desktop, it is invading every aspect of our lives: all relations from personal to commercial.

At this point, we can say that Google has a real power over anyone who uses the Internet, and that means pretty much anyone in the modern world. As Google becoming bigger and bigger, it became more and more dangerous. In my book I explained now it is aligned with American foreign policy. This means for example that Google may intervene in the interests of the United States, may end up compromising the privacy of selected people, can use the power of advertising for the purposes of propaganda.

Countries such as Russia and China - and this can be seen by reading the cables from US embassies that we have released are now looking at Google as an instrument of the United States government. This attitude goes as far back as 2009. Unfortunately their solution (Russia and China, ed) is to create local monopolies. Google sucks the personal data of every single person is building an endless pool of information that is of great interest to the American government.

Accordingly, the government has entered in alliance with Google to access this database. And Google will never change the way it operates, because its business model is to collect as much data as possible about the people and centralize and process the data in such a way as to find effective model for targeted advertising. Which is almost exactly what NSA does.

You describe Eric Schmidt as a character "for whom centrist and liberal imperialist inclinations feet perfectly well into the US foreign policy." What kind of world Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen are building for us?

"Schmidt and Cohen have published a book that has been largely ignored, but which is extremely revealing. It's called "The New Digital Age" and this book outlines their vision of the future: a world of endless consumerism and escapism, where the ideal consumer goes around with Google Gadgets, "by swiping your finger" and "sharing" and everything is wonderful. Schmidt and Cohen believe that in the Western world there is no more need for privacy, because governments are inherently "good", responsible for collecting and using the information to better manage their citizens. "

She writes that Google was born as an expression of independent culture of Graduates of Universities of California, a culture which is decent, humane, funny, but eventually became "the empire of do no harm." What has caused Google to become so evil?

"Google started out as an expression of student culture that hovered around the universities of Stanford and Berkeley. Decent, funny and politically naive but because, in the final analysis, the fact that it has become the second largest company in the United States, Google has become evil. Like so many other American companies, Google has been trying to expand into foreign markets, and at this point it became dependent on the advice and lobbying capacities of the State Department and other U.S. government entities. That dependence has led to extensive contacts and personal alliances between the management of Google, Eric Schmidt included, and American government."

Do you believe that China and Russia will fight strenuously against the empire of Google?

"Yes, they are slow, but the locals are shocked when they realize what is happening, because there is no need to physically subdue a nation (to control it, ed) when you dominates the information sphere and you can influence the laws of that nation through international treaties.

Google's dominance is seen by countries such as China and Russia as a matter of national sovereignty. In China you can see how they are building local internet services. You may think that Russia and China are wicked nations, but they are the only with a power to prevent extreme abuses that we have seen in case of the NSA. The interaction between Google, the American foreign policy establishment and the intelligence is largely based on understanding each other and is carried out through the use of force, coercion, when you can not rely on voluntary cooperation, as it has been revealed recently with Yahoo, which in 2008 was put under pressure by the NSA that would give access to the data of its customers under the threat of a fine of $250,000 a day."

What you can reply to those who claim that Google still is "the empire of do no harm", but China and Russia are not exactly the champions of freedom of the Net

"China was the first nation to censor WikiLeaks: It happened in 2007. This is a highly politicized nation and is afraid of what his people think. But in a sense, this is the optimistic view, because China believes that what Chinese people think is important, however, in many Western nations freedom of speech is the result of the fact that what people think does not matter at all: the ruling elites do not need to be worried about what people think because any internal change will not affect the elite or their companies. The problems with China and Russia are completely internal.

What you can reply to those who argues that we need mass surveillance that the NSA has set up through collaboration with Google, because the fanatics of the ISIS are the perfect demonstration of how our democracies can come under the mortal danger?

"Our democracies are in mortal danger to the totalitarianism that is upon them because of mass surveillance: a power that be able to control every significant social and economic interaction."

Among other things, despite intercept of messages from billions of people, they seem to have been unable to prevent any important attack, or predict the rise of the ISIS...

"The primary purpose of mass surveillance is a strategic advantage (which the nation that practice it obtains, ed) and, in fact, this practice internally is called "strategic oversight ". The NSA intercepts entire continents exactly as for the same purpose as the last 70 years -- this is the same great game to control the oil and the countries involved in its production: you can see this with the events in Ukraine."

The United States will never give up mass surveillance. But the man who has exposed the global espionage also does not give up. It explains his struggle against the power that be to save democracy. You and your staff you have been able to withstand all kinds of pressure: death threats, investigations and block of financial transactions by the court. In your book you tell how Wikileaks was able to ease the pressure of the blocking of financial transactions through a strategic investment in Bitcoin. And even while confined to the embassy, was able to assist Edward Snowden, sending in Hong Kong Sarah Harrison, who helped Snowden to obtain asylum. Yet, you are still confined to the embassy, Sarah Harrison is in exile, Chelsea Manning in prison and Edward Snowden has no place to hide except Russia. Do you think we will have new Manning and Snowden, given the high prices paid by past whistleblowers, you and your staff?

Yes, I'm virtually certain. We have intervened and we organized an operation to assist Snowden, bringing him safely to Hong Kong because we wanted to make a case to send the message that it is possible to reveal this kind of information, yet retain much personal freedom intact. And certainly this message encourages and motivates other whistleblowers.

In your book you explain why it is not easy to create other WikiLeaks. How do you see the attempts by the Guardian and The Washington Post to create a platform for sending secret documents?

"I consider it as a partial victory, in a sense that mainstream media are trying to follow parts of our model. But I do not find particularly interesting those organizations. There are other small media organization much more interesting, as BalcanLeaks, who are trying to use encrypted communications technology in innovative ways. The big problem, though, has always been to publish and unfortunately the simple adoption of encrypted communications can not do anything to solve this problem. We have seen how little the Washington Post and the Guardian have published of the material they obtained [from Snowden, ed]. The editor of the Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, has also stated that in the files of Snowden there are materials on Iraq and Afghanistan, but they were never even read [by journalists of the Guardian, ed.]

The New York Times has Snowden files too, but at least so far they have not been published anything ...

"Yes, in a total percentage of around 2 per cent of the material was published. And that's the real problem: encrypted communications are good, but we need an organization capable of publishing in a more serious revelations and this is a complex task as numerous jurisdictions are involved, and there are some sociological problems. This is the reason why there is not, unfortunately, any organization able to publish [Documents, ed] as we do. It 's still difficult to create a new WikiLeaks. "

[Jul 18, 2014] Psst! Your phone is snooping on you. What you need to know and how to stop it – video

The Guardian

Revelations about the detailed location records stored on smartphones indicates just how
much information companies including Apple and Google are able to gather. But it's not just the phone-makers – apps on your phone are hungry for your personal info too. So is your phone snooping on you? Here, we reveal what you need to know – and whether you can do anything about it

Dogoodnow, 16 July 2014 12:04pm

Another problem with Android (as far as I can see, as implemented on an early Samsung Note) is that it keeps turning on apps that you have or think you have turned off or force closed. Especially true of all the Google related material?

StockBet -> Dogoodnow, 16 July 2014 1:16pm

Watch the PBS documentary called "United States of Secrets" and what they said about Google.

fragilegorilla -> StockBet, 16 July 2014 1:23pm

There's also a very good documentary available on Netflix right now called "terms and conditions may apply".

It covers this constant snooping and what we actually sign away when we tick those little 'I accept' boxes.

dourscot Dogoodnow, 16 July 2014 1:36pm

You can't stop or de-install Google's core apps on any mainstream Android device.

The only way around this is to use an open install like CyanogenMod.

tr1ck5t3r -> dourscot, 16 July 2014 2:04pm

CyanogenMod has had its own bugs will facilitate snooping though. However as the Play store app is not installed by default, its worth checking the terms and conditions when a CyanogenMod user install it.

supermarine -> fragilegorilla, 16 July 2014 7:37pm

I've watched it…I was tickled by the revelation that a number of people had signed their souls to the devil.

Fred1, 16 July 2014 12:09pm

I really can't see the point of most Apps. Sure WhatsApp and Viber are useful but the vast majority are just websites made for phones. And they're free so there's a catch. I hate using WhatsApp and Viber because I know they're as about as secure as using a microphone on a busy high street and the people behind it our mining the shit out of my data. However I use them because they're a useful.

I just wish you could choose. Whore your data or pay for the service. The internet should be about getting £1 from billions of people but instead nowadays its just about whoring data. It's most likely all bull shit like investing in sub-prime mortgages but hey lets pretend this data has any value.

My approach is to download very few apps, never give my location, never use social media (because I don't understand why it exists) and never say anything vaguely interesting on WhatsApp, Viber or indeed CIF. If you don't believe me read this comment.

Westmorlandia -> KatyEB, 16 July 2014 12:12pm

Yes, and so many pre-installed, that you can't delete. Still I prefer it to my old iPhone.

This is easily the worst thing about Android - endless unwanted apps that take up storage space, use memory, and can't be removed. It's incredibly annoying - it's like they're stealing part of the phone I paid for.

Westmorlandia, 16 July 2014 12:11pm

Because of the opacity of the system, it's crying out for consumer protection regulation.

Unfortunately governments like collecting our data too, so are actually quite keen for this sort of data collection to go on.

pretendname -> Westmorlandia, 16 July 2014 12:24pm

Any reasonable left or right centre government, would move to ban Google Glass immediately. But our government has tipped into fascism.

There is a reasonable argument that banning these devices would not be 'progressive'. By which they mean, you can't put a genie back in the bottle. But this is simply rationalising away fascism.

We ban or blacklist new technologies all the time, it's just that we've chosen not to deal with this one because it helps our government suppress anything they might see as seditious.

This wholesale surveillance of citizens is simply wrong. Just like secret trials and detention without charge.. is simply wrong.

afinch -> pretendname, 16 July 2014 1:23pm

Any reasonable left or right centre government, would move to ban Google Glass immediately.

Eh? Do you think concealed cameras should be illegal? Telephoto lenses? Small microphones? Spy equipment far more covert, and far cheaper, than Google glass has been available for decades.

What's liberal about banning an underpowered wearable camera that costs too much?

pretendname -> afinch, 16 July 2014 1:29pm

It's not the camera that's the problem with Google glass.. It's that it's a network enabled camera which is permanently switched on and recording, and is reporting your location and everything you see and hear to the government, and worse, a company.

Now if you restricted yourself to looking at members of your own family that's ok.. but if you're going to wear it on a bus, it's going to record not just your movement, but through facial recognition, the moments of everyone you see.

Can't you see any danger in that?

fallenrider pretendname , 16 July 2014 3:09pm

But it doesn't actually do that though does it?!
It records when you tell it to record, not constantly. But don't let facts get in the way or your paranoia hey.

pretendname fallenrider, 16 July 2014 3:35pm

Have you been asleep for the last 2 years. Google, have been actively working with the NSA to provide every single piece of information about you that they can.

But of course... I'll have to take your word for it because you are clearly a Google Employee on the Glass project.

Otherwise.. how would you know what it does or doesn't do?

LegoRemix pretendname, 16 July 2014 4:21pm

As has been repeated over, and over again. No tech company is actively working with the NSA. What happened is they got served National Security Letters that *force* their cooperation with government demands. If they don't comply, their businiess is shut down.

You can moan about a lot of other things tech companies do, but this is literally a 'gun to the back of the head' scenario for them

pretendname LegoRemix , 16 July 2014 4:26pm

I'm not sure...
Eric Schmidt has been attending Bilderberg for the last few years.
From that I surmise that he is fully on board.

But.. even if tech companies are forced into this, the result is the same. It is a bizarre situation in which, given full details and facts, people still deny reality.. even while it's happening.
You couldn't make it up.

Google glass has a camera which is potentially permantently switched on.
That camera can be picking out faces, mapping those faces to some sort of engram, and http posting them off to gootle with a location and date stamp, or storing that list of information locally for later upload.

If it can do it... Recently revelations seem to suggest, it is doing it.

MtnClimber afinch, 16 July 2014 5:47pm

It's far worse now than before "smart phones" Before, spying was done on an individual basis. One person wanted to spy on another.

Now, with smartphones, everyone is under surveillance. Google glass is an extension of the spy phones that we all carry. It is getting worse by the day.

robinaldlowrise LegoRemix, 16 July 2014 10:18pm

No tech company is actively working with the NSA.

Of course they aren't (cough). Nobody is working with the NSA. The NSA is an evil unto itself alone (cough).

Bluecloud, 16 July 2014 12:14pm

My Android tablet came with Google Maps, which requires permision to access all my contacts, all my WLAN info as well as my location (of course, it's satnav device) and lots of other personal info. Their demand for ever greater intrusion into my life increases with every update.

This is a high price to pay for such apps. Beware!

swishy Bluecloud , 16 July 2014 12:25pm

I can see a future not too far ahead where these phones will be the only available option which will basically trap people in the system. Permission to access personal info may not necessarily be requested and ability to turn off GPS might not be possible. There's a gloomy picture to be going on with.

beedoubleyou Bluecloud , 16 July 2014 12:29pm

I don't understand the price. Nobody has anything to gain by knowing any of my contacts, especially me.

Nialler, 16 July 2014 12:14pm

My experience with the Galaxy was that in order to use a lot of the functionality I had to register with Google. This gives them my e-mail, my network, my location (if using the GPS) my buying preferences etc.

Sod that.

My wife used the GPS to find an address and when we arrived a photo of the house popped up on the screen. I find all this terribly intrusive.

If someone stopped you on the street and asked you those questions you'd tell them to fling their hook.

tilw Nialler, 16 July 2014 12:44pm

My way of handling Google and similar accounts is to give Google my email address at another on-line "everything including the kitchen sink" service and vice versa.

Both the email addresses are eminently disposable and neither of them point to any of my actual "real" email addresses. It can be a bit of a pain keeping track of which service has which disposable address, but it's worth it.

This technique also pretty quickly reveals which "services" have passed email addresses on to spammers either knowingly or otherwise.

blipvert tilw, 16 July 2014 12:55pm

Google started to get a bit sniffy about this kind thing a while ago, and Boss Man Schmidt declared Google+ to be an identity service, and only real names would do.

Fortunately, they have recently abandoned this Big Brother approach in a desperate attempt to actually get customers to use Google+.

MasterPale Nialler, 16 July 2014 1:35pm

Registering with Google is only necessary in order to buy apps from Google's app market. There are other sources of apps such as Samsung, Amazon, app developers websites, app review websites. Of course you have to register with these sources too but the process is generally less intrusive.

You can disable and uninstall Google apps such as Gmail, Google search, Maps etc. And install alternatives which do not gather your data such as Hotmail, Hushmail, Firefox browser with ad-blockers and anti-trackers, DuckDuckGo or StartPage search engines, and Bing maps or TomTom (if there is no app use your phone browser to access the websites - create a bookmark and you have instant map service).

People are often afraid to edit their phone/tablet, a fear promoted by the dire pop-up warnings that if you turn off x it will melt your phone. No it wont!

Do not install junk apps. You can expect them to be infested with spyware and to involve 'in-app purchases'. Choose quality apps, recommended by reliable reviews. When installing an app, buy the paid version and save money on data long-term. 'Free' apps invade your privacy, keep data turned on to feed you a stream of adverts. You pay in lots of ways. It costs 69p for an app or maybe £2.99 for the expensive apps? And how much is privacy worth to you? How much do you pay for data?

If you have not seen an Adam Curtis documentary nor watched the BBC's current documentary series 'Meet the Men Who Made Us Spend' (on iPlayer) then I recommend them. They are light and fluffy, not overly intellectual, but they review the history of the last fifty years and the growth of consumption and offer an explanation of why so many people are obese, we spend too much time and money on pointless consumption, and are politically oppressed. It might make you decide you don't need so many gadgets or that you don't need so many apps on your gadgets. It will certainly make you reject 'smart things' and the continuing infantilisation and passification of the population.

dourscot Nialler, 16 July 2014 1:41pm

But you can log out of Google. This doesn't solve your problem with other apps but it's not as bad as you suggest.

ConanOB Nialler , 16 July 2014 4:48pm

You buy an iPhone, apple asks for you credit card number, expiration date and you need to create and email account and use a back up email account if you are imperfect and might someday forget your password.

Everything comes at a price, the more secured and locked down you want your smartphone to be, expect to pay a premium price for it.

It is not difficult for phone companies to retrieve text messages etc and time, date and duration of calls you made every day.

Just stay away from apps like the flashlight app that needs access to your microphone or any app that request access to your contacts.

NotANumbers MasterPale, 18 July 2014 1:05am

I use F-Droid. It is a repository of free and open source applications. If you don't trust one, you can just have a look at the source code, providing you can understand it, and heck, even if you can't, you could still download, safe in the knowledge that there will inevitably be more eyes viewing the code and therefore less chance you'll have a malicious or snooping application.

swishy, 16 July 2014 12:18pm

I have one of those Samsung Galaxy Note phones. It's a work phone so doesn't actually belong to me. I just switch off the WIFI and GPS which is hopefully enough to stop my location being tracked.

ThisFieldIsBlank swishy , 16 July 2014 12:26pm

No it isn't! You will still be tracked as the phone continuously send signals to the network to check for signals. Even Brick phones do it, it is an inherent feature of mobile or cellular phones.

bargepoled2, 16 July 2014 12:19pm

With android kit kat 4.4 you can activate or deactivate each apps location settings.

dont want an app to use your location or know it? turn of its ability to do that in app settings.

NSA reportedly tracking any internet users who research privacy software online

The Independent

Any internet users who use or even read about privacy services online will be targeted for surveillance by the NSA, according to a new report from German broadcaster ARD.

According to leaked source-code of the US spy agency's 'XKeyscore' software, individuals who search for information about anonymising services such as Tor have their IP addresses logged by the NSA and can be flagged for further monitoring.

Tor, sometimes known as The Onion Router, is perhaps the most popular form of anonymising software used online. It bounces users' browsing activities around a large network of computers known as nodes making it difficult to trace.

The free software was originally funded by the US military and still receives money from the US State Department. It's used worldwide by political dissidents, human rights activists, journalists and the merely privacy-conscious.

The code leaked to ARD suggests that the NSA is continuing to look for methods to 'crack' Tor and to this end is recording traffic flowing in and out of two 'directory servers' for the service. Individuals involved with Tor have said this puts users "at risk".

XKeyscore was previously described by former NSA-employer Edward Snowden as a tool that allows the agency to monitor "nearly everything a user does on the internet". Snowden – or his leaks – have not been mentioned in ARD's report, leaving some to suggest that there may be another whistleblower within the agency.

Other sites and services are also watched, including the website Linux Journal and Linux-based operating system Tails, the latter described by the NSA as a "a comsec mechanism advocated by extremists on extremist forums". Other programs targeted include HotSpotShield, FreeNet, Centurian, FreeProxies and MegaProxy.

The leaks are particularly worrying as they suggest the US government is still engaging in indiscriminate surveillance despite claiming to only target activity that threatens national security.

"They say 'We're not doing indiscriminate searches,' but this is indiscriminate," Kurt Opsahl, deputy general counsel for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told Wired. "It's saying that anyone who is looking for those various [services] are suspicious persons."

[Jun 29, 2014] NSA queried phone records of just 248 people despite massive data sweep by Spencer Ackerman

Ok. That was just test run for the technology they built ;-)
Jun 27, 2014 | The Guardian | Jump to comments (88)

During that year, it submitted 178 applications for the data to the Fisa court during that period, which, as first revealed by the Guardian thanks to leaks from Edward Snowden, permitted the ongoing, daily collection of practically all US phone records.

While the surveillance statistics report provides only limited detail, it reveals that under a single order in 2013 pursuant to a 2008 law permitting NSA to obtain Americans' international calls without individually specified warrants, some 89,138 "targets" had their data collected.

But those "targets" are not necessarily 89,138 people.

For the purposes of the relevant surveillance power, known as Section 702 of the Fisa Amendments Act of 2008, a target could be "an individual person, a group or an organization composed of multiple individuals or a foreign power," the report explained. Such targets are counted once in the report although the NSA might be able to siphon data from "multiple communications facilities" used by the target.

Nor did the NSA disclose how many times in 2013 it has warrantlessly searched those collected communications for Americans' data, something intelligence officials have pledged to disclose to Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon.

The controversial queries, dubbed colloquially the "backdoor search" by Wyden, received a drubbing last week from a House amendment to defund it, and next week, a government privacy board plans to release the results of its investigation into the practice.

Similarly, a new accounting of a kind of nonjudicial subpoena for records used by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, known as a National Security Letter, declined to specify the number of Americans whose data was impacted. Instead, the report revealed that the FBI issued 19,212 national security letters in 2013, entailing 38,832 "requests for information."

inthenews -> peacefulmilitant, 28 June 2014 2:23am

I don't believe that is accurate based on what I have read to date. Snowden made comments that he had access to the content of email messages. Now, do they "archive" internal email from within each federal agency or between agencies is an interesting question someone should ask. Of course, the leaders of NSA are known pathological liars even under oath so we'll never know... Now, if those messages hit the Internet you know the NSA has copies archived as their accomplices help them in their mass surveillance activities.

I am so happy the Germans are not renewing their Verizon services. Now, they just need to force the NSA to remove their fiber taps and vacate their facilities. Until we see more action like this change will continue to move slowly.

PS I am considered a "risk" by The Guardian. Beware of what you read of mine...

unclepickles, 27 June 2014 8:14pm

Law enforcement ... use "Tag Readers". Big Bro looking 4U - no worries - Facial Recognition will track you in real time w/an attached dossier on the "person of interest". All this w/o probable cause! No judge needs to know. Suspected journalist about to break a major story, enter them in a facial recognition database, track them in real time & eventually, it'll lead law enforcement directly to their sources. No one, absolutely NO One should believe a word the NSA's spits out.

This is all faux formalities to appease the public's concern of the de facto of the 4th Amendment. The Supreme Court's decision moot.

dubo6524, 27 June 2014 8:26pm

Reminder that The NSA often uses 2 or 3 "hops" in a query, so that "248" means 248 people AND the people they talked to AND the people THOSE people talked to

JCDavis -> dubo6524, 27 June 2014 9:11pm

Exactly. From their past behavior, everything they say can be assumed be a lie of gargantuan proportions, and thus the true number of people they've investigated must be a million times larger, not merely 89,000 times larger as this story suggests.

WalrusHat, 27 June 2014 9:38pm

Sure, but what else are they doing with that data? My guess is that it is being analyzed by the DoD anonymously (meaning the data without a reference to whom it refers to) to game the citizens.

Why are people voting against wars? How can we make them more war friendly? What can we do to increase our budget and limit things like infrastructure and education, you know, things that matter?

davidpear -> WalrusHat, 27 June 2014 10:13pm

what else are they doing with that data

Those things and also saving it for the future. That is how all totalitarian regimes work. One day in the future they drag in all the "traitors" and make them confess to their crimes.

hmorgansr, 27 June 2014 9:43pm


spied_upon, 27 June 2014 10:12pm

Below is an excerpt from:

No Warrant, No Problem: How the Government Can Get Your Digital Data
by Theodoric Meyer

ProPublica, Today, 10:29 a.m.

In response to an inquiry by Sen. Edward J. Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, Sprint reported that it provided location data to U.S. law enforcement 67,000 times in 2012. AT&T reported receiving 77,800 requests for location data in 2012. (AT&T also said that it charges $100 to start tracking a phone and $25 a day to keep tracking it.)

hollyrood13, 27 June 2014 10:36pm

Sometimes I get so disgusted that I rant (to no one person in particular except my patient wife) about the foolishness and stupidity of American citizens.

But scanning the above comments encourages one to suspect we're smarter than anybody in the District of Disconnect thinks we are. Pretty cutting bunch of comments by some smart readers.

Not one troll in the lineup. Yea for us.

IsaiahEarhart, 27 June 2014 10:45pm

It would be interesting to find out how many times the NSA has told the truth. I have been following what these NSA officials say, and I can't remember any one of them telling the truth about anything, ever.

Coinyer101, 27 June 2014 10:50pm

Their 'transparency reports' lack any credibility, because the NSA and FBI are habitual liars....

Threlly, 28 June 2014 12:20am

Utter and complete red herring. The specific/non-specific data mining of mass data is where they get their real 'intelligence' from. This is the same old smoke screen they reel out every time.

They don't need private specific data about you, they can literally tell everything about you from diverse data from email headers, mobile phone bills, utility records etc etc.
They don't NEED to dig into the sort of records that require subpoenas.

The fact that it's the NSA bleating this tells you EVERYTHING you need to know.

YOU are the enemy now.
Your friends.
Your family.
Your children.

You have NO Rights, they exist only as smoke now.

Catori -> Shadi imipak, 28 June 2014 4:37am

Person A calls 5 people in a day. Those others also call 5 a day. Supposed you follow the chain 10 connections.

5x5x5x5x5x5x5x5x5x5x5 = what ? Go do the math.

The interesting results would be where 1 person is called by more than 1 person in the chain. The length of each call would be interesting individually AND if the calls were all about the same length. A few things might be red flags.

I'm a software engineer. I've seen a single query that took days to run. Queries can be incredibly complex.

None of this needs to invade your anonymity. There is absolutely NO reason to use a name, when searching for certain behavior. Name is a terrible identifier - so many ways to spell or abbreviate names. When you have a phone number it is SO superior for a search. Only at the end, if behavior matches do you have any need for a name.

... ... ...

Hottentot, 28 June 2014 6:27am

This article is a nonsense and the NSA spin is a joke

The National Security Agency was interested in the phone data of fewer than 250 people believed to be in the United States in 2013 yet further down it states law permitting NSA to obtain Americans' international calls without individually specified warrants, some 89,138 "targets" had their data collected. But those "targets" are not necessarily 89,138 people. they could be an individual person, a group or an organization composed of multiple individuals or a foreign power,"

The NSA and its PR department might 'wish' to believe that people will accept whatever lies they spin, and that people can't do mathematics, but they can, and trying to insult peoples intelligence is not only unacceptable, it compounds the already strongly held views of people, that, the NSA like GCHQ, has no credibility. All this nonsense about terrorism is a cover for the NSA who can't, or won't, design a programme that targets 'specifics' - it's like, throwing mud at the wall in the hope that something will stick..... unbelievable.

ByThePeople -> Hottentot, 28 June 2014 8:34am

Hey - Give em a break. They are not trying to insult our intelligence - you give them too much credit - They are too fucking stupid to even know that their bullshit pack of lies are not believable - and by the way, they are busy looking for Bush's WMD's and 'not seeing' the perpetrators of 9/11 whom gather just outside their offices in the days before 9/11.

No, they are too fucking stupid to understand that their propaganda is shit and to understand that none of them has any credibility to deliver any information that would be believed anyway - legit or not.

Catori Shadi -> ByThePeople, 28 June 2014 8:06pm

"Able to" yes - interested in doing so, no. You just aren't that important. Sorry.

I've once worked for one of the top 3 credit card companies. I supported a software system that identified recipients for "envelope stuffers" - special offers that came with your monthly bill.

A merchant would work with the CC to identify, for example "anyone who visits my store, but spends $50 a month or less. But who spent $500 or more in a 3-month spell in the rest of the market sector".

The idea being for the merchant to entice bigger spenders into their own store, with special offers. To do this, the CC company has a supercomputer - something like an SP2 back then. They would churn through all of your spending history - so if you went on a business trip without your wife & bought condoms when you arrived in the remote location, it was in your spending history.

In all of that process not ONE pair of human eyes EVER saw any of the data - individually you don't matter. The query would be run on the supercomputer, the target recipients would be identified and the special offer would be included in the envelope and it was never seen by human eyes.

When you mow the lawn, do you get down on hands & knees & look at individual blades of grass - or do you set the blade height & just go for it ?

ByThePeople, 28 June 2014 8:55am

In all fairness - Many American's still believe the lies for War in Iraq and that he NSA, CIA and FBI did not know about 9/11.

So - why not throw out bullshit numbers and figures, We The People don't even know what took place 13 years ago...

shahidbuttar, 28 June 2014 1:00pm

Amie's comment is critical: the government is releasing only limited data, likely contrived to downplay the extent of its unconstitutional surveillance. Don't forget that Clapper (the head of the office that produced the report) has already been caught lying to Congress. Why should anyone believe his latest round of self-serving comments? (crickets)

Expressed in an alternative hip-hop vernacular set to house music:

The government's watching you....and they lie about it, at every opportunity, sustained abuses of every community....

Bush signed a secret presidential decree. Obama talked a big game, but presidentially did everything he could to entrench the Bush legacy....


WSBthxgivin, 28 June 2014 2:27pm

The meta data conversation is the smoke screen, and obvious hog wash.
The abuses of power by this unchecked agency are what citizens should be concerned about.

Setting up fake websites to sow dissent in Cuba. Derailing climate conferences.
Listening in to the conversations of lawyers in international trade disputes.

johnwallis42, 29 June 2014 5:49am

You bought a cellphone with a GPS, Google knows a fuckton more about you than the NSA, you live in a virtual prison already. They don't need to work that hard.

outfitter, 29 June 2014 1:33pm

A little overkill? The pernicious thing is that it is in the nature of bureaucracies in general and spy agencies in particular to expand beyond reason unless there is effective oversight. In the case of intelligence agencies it has proven impossible to control them.

Even if the law is changed they will continue on their merry way as they consider it their duty to break the law to further what they consider noble ends. The only effective way of reigning in agencies like NSA, that depend upon expensive hardware, is to cut their budget, and that is also neigh on impossible while the public fears terrorism.

[Jun 11, 2014] Edward Snowden's NSA leaks 'an important service', says Al Gore

Jun 11, 2014 | The Guardian | Jump to comments (692)

Edward Snowden has secured his highest endorsement yet in the US when former vice-president Al Gore described the leaking of top secret intelligence documents as "an important service".

Asked if he regarded Snowden as a traitor or whistleblower, Gore veered away from the "traitor" label. He refused to go as far as labelling him a whistleblower but signalled he viewed him as being closer to that category than a traitor, saying: "What he revealed in the course of violating important laws included violations of the US constitution that were way more serious than the crimes he committed."

Snowden, the former CIA and National Security Agency computer specialist, leaked US and British documents to the Guardian and Washington Post in June last year, starting a worldwide debate on the balance between surveillance and privacy. His revelations have led to proposed changes in legislation in the US and a backlash against government surveillance by major telecoms and internet companies.

But he remains a polarizing figure in the US. An NBC poll a fortnight ago showed 24% backing him and 34% disagreeing with his actions, with 40% having no opinion. Among the younger generation there was more support, with 32% backing him and only 20% opposed, with 47% having no opinion. Some members of Congress have welcomed the revelations but refuse to go as far as supporting Snowden, who is wanted by the US and has sought asylum in Russia.

Gore, interviewed at the Southland technology conference in Nashville, Tennessee, was asked if he viewed him as a whistleblower or a traitor. "I hear this question all the time. I'm like most people: I don't put him in either one of those categories. But I'll be candid and give you want you want. If you set up a spectrum. "

The interviewer interrupted: "How would you define it?"

Gore replied: "I would push it more away from the traitor side. And I will tell you why. He clearly violated the law so you can't say OK, what he did is all right. It's not. But what he revealed in the course of violating important laws included violations of the US constitution that were way more serious than the crimes he committed.

"In the course of violating important law, he also provided an important service. OK. Because we did need to know how far this has gone."

The documents released by Snowden showed massive government surveillance but also the extent of co-operation between the government and the large telecoms and internet companies.

Gore called on the internet companies to work with the public to help draw up a "digital Magna Carta" that provides protection of freedoms. "They need to pay attention to correcting some of these gross abuses of individual privacy that are ongoing in the business sphere," he said.

Snowden's hope of a return to the US is dependent on a change in a major shift in opinion that would allow him to escape a lengthy prison sentence. His supporters will seize on Gore's comments to help make the case that he is a whistleblower and should be allowed to return to the US as a free man. Ben Wizner, Snowden's US-based lawyer, said: "Al Gore is quite obviously right. Regrettably, the laws under which Snowden is being charged make no allowance for the value of the information he disclosed. Whether the NSA's activities violated the law or the constitution would be irrelevant in a trial under the Espionage Act."

NOTaREALmerican, 10 June 2014 7:37pm

Now, if ONLY the patriotic constitution-loving freedom-loving Conservatives would get as excited about protecting the 4th amendment as the 2nd, but - I know, I know - most Conservatives are actually "Conservatives".

StewbyNOTaREALmerican, 10 June 2014 9:11pm

The lifelong republicans I know are excited about protecting both the 2nd and the 4th amendment. It's the career politicians that want to seize more power for the federal government. Mass surveillance is the opposite of conservative. Especially the NRA types because they know that mass surveillance can easily create a backdoor gun registry, which is something they've fought for years. I'm more shocked by the intellectually dishonest progressives that were for civil liberties under Bush but now mass surveillance isn't a big deal anymore under Obama.

They act more cult-like than objective, and sadly many of them are intelligent otherwise. Because this surfaced under Obama there will be huge numbers of people that won't want to denounce it in the future after publicly supporting it for fear of being a flip-flopper. So, instead they'll prefer to justify it to themselves. The ethical death of a whole generation of civil libertarians.

hary3hve -> Stewby, 10 June 2014 9:36pm

@Stewby your analysis is spot on. It illustrates why the Dem party is actually more harmful to the stated priorities (excepting cultural/social issues) of the Left and liberalism than the GOP has ever been or can be. If the GOP were doing these things there would be aggressive pushback from the liberal Left but when the DEM party does them it becomes normalized and acceptable to them.

NOTaREALmerican -> hary3hve, 10 June 2014 9:45pm

Re: there would be aggressive pushback

Good points. In fact, both the right and left are authoritarians. And neither will question their leaders. The "Conservatives" are perfectly happy with authoritarian government when it comes to social issues just as the "Liberals/Progressive" turn a blind eye when it comes to authoritarian government like the NSA.

Most people love Big-Gov. It really comes down to a disagreement about male oriented Big-Gov or female oriented Big-Gov.

Dee Dee ForteNOTaREALmerican, 10 June 2014 11:36pm

I live in Europe but often interact with US people. I clearly recall talking to one shortly after President Obama was first elected. He was apoplectic with rage that the President was about to change the Constitution to allow unlimited terms in Office.This was a University educated mid 40's guy who got all his news from Fox. I listened to his bile for as long as seemed polite, then made an excuse to go meet someone else!

SUNLITE -> NOTaREALmerican, 11 June 2014 12:02am

How about calling conservatives by their real name.....Whores for the 1%.......

Why Snowden Did Right

Soulskill posted yesterday | from the information-wants-to-be-free-and-private dept. 335 comments

Bruce66423 writes:

"Ebon Moglen Gives a comprehensive explanation of how the NSA's surveillance operations are a threat to a functioning democracy, and why there is a need for real change. There are interesting parallels to the Roman Empires: 'The power of that Roman empire rested in its leaders' control of communications. ... The emperors invented the posts to move couriers and messages at the fastest possible speed. Using that infrastructure, with respect to everything that involved the administration of power, the emperor made himself the best-informed person in the history of the world. That power eradicated human freedom. "Remember," said Cicero to Marcellus in exile, "wherever you are, you are equally within the power of the conqueror.'

Nowadays, 'Our military listeners have invaded the centre of an evolving net, where conscriptable digital superbrains gather intelligence on the human race for purposes of bagatelle and capitalism. In the US, the telecommunications companies have legal immunity for their complicity, thus easing the way further.

The invasion of our net was secret, and we did not know that we should resist. But resistance developed as a fifth column among the listeners themselves. Because of Snowden, we now know that the listeners undertook to do what they repeatedly promised respectable expert opinion they would never do. They always said they would not attempt to break the crypto that secures the global financial system. That was false.'"

s.petry (762400) | yesterday | (#47101497)

Almost (2)

If the NSA only spied for military purposes on foreign governments, I would see your point. The NSA spied on German citizens, not just their military. Since it's all "secret" we really don't know a motive, but looking at how the police there shut down demonstrations real time similar to how OWS was shut down in the US you should be questioning their handling and use of the data. I could point to similar incidents in the UK, where again the NSA was spying on citizens not just military with similar results.

Other reports have mentioned things like industrial espionage being done by the NSA. Again, since it's all "secret" we only know what's been leaked, and what's been leaked is their capabilities more than their actions. In other words, we don't know everything they have been doing with all the data they collect.

This paints a rather eerie picture of what the NSA is really doing as an agency.

Sure, I'll defend the average agent who believes they are just going a job and defending the USA. As a Veteran I defend soldiers with the same beliefs. The agency they work for however, does not deserve the same defense when you consider a long series of known abuses.

fermion (181285) | yesterday | (#47101265)

Soviet Russian(not a joke) (4, Insightful)

If you think back 40-50, one of the primary criticism of Soviet Russia was that no one in that country did any real work. In industry you sat around all day playing chess, and the government most spent it's time surveilling itself and everyone else. While this was an exaggeration, the point should be well taken. The purpose of a government is to govern, and if too many resources are spent spying, if the stability is so strained that constant monitoring of citizens is required, then that nation-state is not going to survive very long. It is not only the expense, it is the waste of talent, the existence of meaningless jobs. This later is really death to a country. If young people know they need no real education because they can just chill in the military or hang out and drink vodka while spying on other people, why would they bother to gain real skills?

Virtucon (127420) | yesterday | (#47101545)

Re:Soviet Russian(not a joke) (4, Insightful)

I think you'll find that the NSA is relatively efficient at what it does in terms of its mission statement. That's the more chilling analogy here. 40 to 50 years ago it took massive amounts of "feet on the street" to gather intelligence along with lots of time to analyze the information. Now with wholesale wiretapping of all forms of communication there's not much that our government can't learn about nearly every citizen in the country. By nearly we have to think of kids who aren't on the Internet or have a cell phone yet. If you start to tie together the communications surveillance with the amount of surveillance that goes on from commercial entities and local law enforcement a profile on the behaviors and destinations of every American is now at hand. Your license plates on your car are tracked, your credit card/banking transactions tracked. Your travel is now tracked both by "chipped" passports and airline itineraries. Even your transit pass is tracking you. We may have backed into our Orwellian surveillance world in the name of easy shopping or "security" but that certainly doesn't mean that we have to allow it to continue. That's the failure of our democracy right now, we're failing to push our leadership to dismantle this system and to push for legislation that would outlaw these wholesale collection processes in the first place.

blahplusplus (757119) | yesterday | (#47101777)

Almost Nobody gets it even Snowden... (3, Interesting)

... this (mass surveillance) is just more part and parcel of state suppression of dissent against corporate interests. They're worried that the more people are going to wake up and corporate centers like the US and canada may be among those who also awaken. See this vid with Zbigniew Brzezinski, former United States National Security Advisor. []

Look at the following graphs: [] [] []

And then...

WIKILEAKS: U.S. Fought To Lower Minimum Wage In Haiti So Hanes And Levis Would Stay Cheap [] []

Free markets? [] []

"We now live in two Americas. One-now the minority-functions in a print-based, literate world that can cope with complexity and can separate illusion from truth. The other-the majority-is retreating from a reality-based world into one of false certainty and magic. To this majority-which crosses social class lines, though the poor are overwhelmingly affected-presidential debate and political rhetoric is pitched at a sixth-grade reading level. In this "other America," serious film and theater, as well as newspapers and books, are being pushed to the margins of society.

In the tradition of Christopher Lasch's The Culture of Narcissism and Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death, Pulitzer Prize-winner Chris Hedges navigates this culture-attending WWF contests, the Adult Video News Awards in Las Vegas, and Ivy League graduation ceremonies-to expose an age of terrifying decline and heightened self-delusion."

3 NSA veterans speak out on whistle-blower We told you so

When a National Security Agency contractor revealed top-secret details this month on the government's collection of Americans' phone and Internet records, one select group of intelligence veterans breathed a sigh of relief.

Thomas Drake, William Binney and J. Kirk Wiebe belong to a select fraternity: the NSA officials who paved the way.

For years, the three whistle-blowers had told anyone who would listen that the NSA collects huge swaths of communications data from U.S. citizens. They had spent decades in the top ranks of the agency, designing and managing the very data-collection systems they say have been turned against Americans. When they became convinced that fundamental constitutional rights were being violated, they complained first to their superiors, then to federal investigators, congressional oversight committees and, finally, to the news media.

To the intelligence community, the trio are villains who compromised what the government classifies as some of its most secret, crucial and successful initiatives. They have been investigated as criminals and forced to give up careers, reputations and friendships built over a lifetime.

Today, they feel vindicated.

Thomas Drake:

He's an American who has been exposed to some incredible information regarding the deepest secrets of the United States government. And we are seeing the initial outlines and contours of a very systemic, very broad, a Leviathan surveillance state and much of it is in violation of the fundamental basis for our own country - in fact, the very reason we even had our own American Revolution. And the Fourth Amendment for all intents and purposes was revoked after 9/11. ...

Q: What did you learn from the document - the Verizon warrant issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court - that Snowden leaked?


It's an extraordinary order. I mean, it's the first time we've publicly seen an actual, secret, surveillance-court order. I don't really want to call it "foreign intelligence" (court) anymore, because I think it's just become a surveillance court, OK? And we are all foreigners now. By virtue of that order, every single phone record that Verizon has is turned over each and every day to NSA.

There is no probable cause. There is no indication of any kind of counterterrorism investigation or operation. It's simply: "Give us the data." ...

There's really two other factors here in the order that you could get at. One is that the FBI requesting the data. And two, the order directs Verizon to pass all that data to NSA, not the FBI.


But when it comes to these data, the massive data information collecting on U.S. citizens and everything in the world they can, I guess the real problem comes with trust. That's really the issue. The government is asking for us to trust them.

It's not just the trust that you have to have in the government. It's the trust you have to have in the government employees, (that) they won't go in the database - they can see if their wife is cheating with the neighbor or something like that. You have to have all the trust of all the contractors who are parts of a contracting company who are looking at maybe other competitive bids or other competitors outside their - in their same area of business. And they might want to use that data for industrial intelligence gathering and use that against other companies in other countries even. So they can even go into a base and do some industrial espionage. So there is a lot of trust all around and the government, most importantly, the government has no way to check anything that those people are doing.

[May 24, 2014] No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the Surveillance State by Glenn Greenwald – review

The Guardian

At the outset of Glenn Greenwald's communications with the "anonymous leaker" later identified as 29-year-old former NSA employee Edward Snowden, Greenwald – a journalist, blogger and former lawyer – and the film-maker Laura Poitras, with whom he is collaborating, are told to use a PGP ("pretty good privacy") encryption package. Only then will materials be sent to him since, as Snowden puts it, encryption is "not just for spies and philanderers". Eventually Greenwald receives word that a Federal Express package has been sent and will arrive in a couple of days. He doesn't know what it will contain – a computer program or the secret and incriminating US government documents themselves – but nothing comes on the scheduled day of delivery. FedEx says that the package is being held in customs for "reasons unknown". Ten days later it is finally delivered. "I tore open the envelope and found two USB thumb drives" and instructions for using the programs, Greenwald writes.

His account reminded me of the time, nearly a decade ago, when I was researching Britain's road to war in Iraq, and went through a similar experience. I was waiting for an overnight FedEx envelope to reach me in New York, sent from my London chambers; it contained materials that might relate to deliberations between George Bush and Tony Blair (materials of the kind that seem to be holding up the Chilcot inquiry). A day passed, then another, then two more. Eventually, I was told I could pick up the envelope at a FedEx office, but warned that it had been tampered with, which turned out to something of an understatement: there was no envelope for me to tear open, as the tearing had already occurred and all the contents had been removed. FedEx offered no explanation.

As Greenwald notes, experiences such as this, which signal that you may be being watched, can have a chilling effect, but you just find other ways to carry on. FedEx (and its like) are avoided, and steps are taken to make sure that anything significant or sensitive is communicated by other means. In any event, and no doubt like many others, I proceed on the basis that all my communications – personal and professional – are capable of being monitored by numerous governments, including my own. Whether they are is another matter, as is the question of what happens with material obtained by such surveillance – a point that this book touches on but never really addresses. Greenwald's argument is that it's not so much what happens with the material that matters, but the mere fact of its being gathered. Even so, his point is a powerful one.

This is the great importance of the astonishing revelations made by Snowden, as facilitated by Greenwald and Poitras, with help from various news media, including the Guardian. Not only does it confirm what many have suspected – that surveillance is happening – but it also makes clear that it's happening on an almost unimaginably vast scale. One might have expected a certain targeting of individuals and groups, but we now know that data is hovered up indiscriminately. We have learned that over the last decade the NSA has collected records on every phone call made by every American (it gathers the who, what and when of the calls, known as metadata, but not the content), as well as email data. We have learned that this happens with the cooperation of the private sector, with all that implies for their future as consorts in global surveillance. We have learned, too, that the NSA reviews the contents of the emails and internet communications of people outside the US, and has tapped the phones of foreign leaders (such as German chancellor Angel Merkel), and that it works with foreign intelligence services (including Britain's GCHQ), so as to be able to get around domestic legal difficulties. Our suspicions have been confirmed that the use of global surveillance is not limited to the "war on terror", but is marshalled towards the diplomatic and even economic advantage of the US, a point Greenwald teases out using the PowerPoint materials relied on by the agencies themselves. Such actions have been made possible thanks to creative and dodgy interpretations of legislation (not least the Patriot Act implemented just after 9/11). These activities began under President Bush, and they have been taken forward by President Obama. It would be a generous understatement to refer to British "cooperation" in these matters, although Greenwald's intended audience seems to be mostly in the US, and he goes light on the British until it comes to the treatment of his partner, David Miranda, who was detained in the UK under anti-terror legislation.

When the revelations first came out, in the summer of 2013, Snowden explained that he "had the capability without any warrant to search for, seize, and read your communications". That meant "anyone's communications at any time", he added, justifying the public disclosure on the grounds that this "power to change people's fates" was "a serious violation of the law". Snowden's actions, and the claims he has made, have catalysed an important debate in the US, within Congress (where views have not necessarily followed party lines) and among academics and commentators. Views are polarised among reasonable individuals, such as New Yorker legal writer Jeff Toobin ("no proof of any systematic, deliberate violations of law"), and the New York Review of Books's David Cole ("secret and legally dubious activities at home and abroad"), and in the US federal courts. In Britain, by contrast, the debate has been more limited, with most newspapers avoiding serious engagement and leaving the Guardian to address the detail, scale and significance of the revelations. Media enterprises that one might have expected to rail at the powers of Big Government have remained conspicuously restrained – behaviour that is likely, over the long term, to increase the power of the surveillance state over that of the individual. With the arrival of secret courts in Britain, drawing on the experience of the US, it feels as if we may be at a tipping point. Such reluctance on the part of our fourth estate has given the UK parliament a relatively free rein, leaving the Intelligence and Security Committee to plod along, a somewhat pitiful contrast to its US counterparts.

The big issue at stake here is privacy, and the relationship between the individual and the state, and it goes far beyond issues of legality (although Snowden's fear of arrest, and perhaps also Greenwald's, seems rather real). It is in the nature of government that information will be collected, and that some of it should remain confidential. "Privacy is a core condition of being a free person," Greenwald rightly proclaims, allowing us a realm "where we can act, think, speak, write, experiment and choose how to be away from the judgmental eyes of others".

Snowden's revelations challenge us to reflect on the ideal balance between the power of the state to know and the right of the individual to go about her or his business unencumbered, and this in turn raises fundamental questions about the power of the media, on which Greenwald has strong views, usually (but not always) fairly articulated. He makes the case for Snowden, and it's a compelling one. One concern with WikiLeaks acting independently was the apparently random nature of its disclosures, without any obvious filtering on the basis of public interest or the possible exposure to risk of certain individuals. What is striking about this story, and the complex interplay between Snowden, Greenwald, Poitras and the Guardian, is that the approach was different, as the justification for the leaks seems to have been at the forefront of all their minds. In his recent book Secrets and Leaks Rahul Sagar identified a set of necessary conditions for leaks. Is there clear evidence of abuse of authority? Will the release threaten public safety? Is the scale of the release limited? Many people, though not all, see these as having been met in the Snowden case.

Britain needs a proper debate about the power of the state to collect information of the kind that Snowden has told us about, including its purpose and limits. The technological revolution of the past two decades has left UK law stranded, with parliament seemingly unable (and perhaps unwilling) to get a proper grip on the legal framework that is needed to restrain our political governors and the intelligence services, not least in their dance with the US. "The greatest threat is that we shall become like those who seek to destroy us", the legendary US diplomat George Kennan warned in 1947. In response, revelations can be made, Greenwald's book published, and a Pulitzer prize awarded. Long may it go on.

• Philippe Sands QC is professor of law at University College London. To order No Place to Hide for £15 with free UK p&p call Guardian book service on 0330 333 6846 or go to

No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the Surveillance State

by Glenn Greenwald

Tell us what you think: Star-rate and review this book

Imlessbiasedthanyou2, 23 May 2014 8:41am

Recommend: 81

Ed Snowden needs to be pardoned.

Glenn Greenwald and the Guardian have been the only source for this information in the UK, which is a disgusting state is affairs. The timidity of our media is striking, embarrassing and scary.

Information needs to be collected by security agencies within reason. Indiscriminate harvesting is information corrupts democracy indescribably.

Incumbent powers can, and will, use private information to quell legitimate protest and debate, and protect their own interests at the expense of justice for their own citizens, and the innocent citizens of foreign countries. They will use it to bribe public servants and corrupt democracy.

Innocent information can still be used against you. It is a failure of intellect and imagination to doubt this, and proclaim the old, untrue mantra, "nothing to hide, nothing to fear".

This cannot be disputed, and so those who continue to defend the actions of our governments are either blind, ignorant or working in tandem.

Thank you Ed Snowden, Glenn Greenwald and the Guardian.

Keep this story alive. It's almost the only one that matters.

mirageseekr, 23 May 2014 11:45am

While I agree that personal privacy is important and needed I think the bigger concern is what happens to democracy when people in authority can be blackmailed. The important thing about Snowden was that he confirmed what Tice and Binney have been saying all along and just lacked the actual evidence.

What I see with some of the rulings from the courts and laws from congress is puppets on a string. They know their argument fails to hold water and yet the feverishly stand by and defend it. The only reasonable answer for that is someone has the goods on them and is using it, just as Russ Tice has been saying for years. So the major question and one I hope Snowden and Greenwald have the answer to is, who is the puppet master?

Our societies have only the charade of democracy. Now the proverbial curtain has been pulled back and we must look to see the truth. Tice has said he saw the orders for surveillance of Obama and Supreme court justices as well as top brass. So who is it exactly that this very expensive system paid for by our tax dollars is used for. We know the "terrorism" is a lie or possibly a distraction for workers they may worry about having a conscious. They claim it is not for industrial espionage, but I am willing to bet some people have made lots of money from having access to information that was stolen. To me the tin foil hat club had it right all along. The people calling the shots are the Council on Foreign Relations, The Trilateral Commission, and Bilderbergs. And if that is true then we have a few global elite of un-elected people determining economies, wars, policy for us all and doing it in violation of sovereignty laws. I wish The Guardian would report more on the military state the USA has become, daily the police beat and kill people here. The DHS has been loading up on ammunition that is not used for target ranges and is against the Geneva convention, the TSA, just ordered weapons and ammunition. The State Department just got a few tons of explosives even the post office has a SWAT team. We have allowed them to build a standing army within our country in direct violation of our constitution. The FEMA camps are up and running and NDAA ensures you can be quietly taken away in the night with absolutely no rights and no charges and even gives them the right to kill Americans. This is not a partisan issue, the bill passed 84-15. So how much more will it take for Americans to realize that the only difference between the US right now and Nazi Germany is that they haven't started loading the trains yet. The US also learned from the Germans mistakes, they will most likely not go house to house with weapons at first. It will be some false flag to make the population willingly go. Maybe it will be like the drills they have had (one in Denver) where they took the schoolchildren to the football arena for a FEMA/DHS "drill" except they forgot to make any mention to the parents about it. The puppet masters need to be exposed now, there is not much more time to wait to see how this is going to work out.

MiltonWiltmellow, 23 May 2014 11:48am

Recommend: 52

Snowden's revelations challenge us to reflect on the ideal balance between the power of the state to know and the right of the individual to go about her or his business unencumbered, and this in turn raises fundamental questions about the power of the media, on which Greenwald has strong views, usually (but not always) fairly articulated.

These sorts of understatements represent a sort of passive acceptance. (e.g., "Let's debate about the tigers dragging our children to the jungle where it devours them. Tiger's have legitimate needs too. Maybe if we stake goats, the tigers will devour the goats instead of our children ... " )

The entire relationship between State and individual changes when the State takes it upon itself to monitor the everyday activities of its citizens.

This isn't an academic question which august authorities like yourself can debate among themselves for the next ten or twenty years.

This is a fucking tiger in the nursery.

Either the citizen has basic human rights (the right to freely interact with others) or the citizen turns into a subject -- a potential threat to State security and thus a suspect.

The question isn't "how much secret surveillance should be allowed" but rather "how can this secret surveillance be stopped?

AhBrightWings -> MiltonWiltmellow, 23 May 2014 12:41pm

Brilliant Milton. Couldn't agree more, and love your metaphor. Just because it's crouched under the dust-ruffle doesn't mean it isn't there. If you've watched footage of tigers hunting, they often freeze for long periods of time to lull their prey into a fall sense of well-being.

As you said so well: This is a fucking tiger in the nursery.

LostintheUSMiltonWiltmellow, 23 May 2014 1:26pm

Recommend: 16

And it is not just about reading our emails, etc. Or listening into phone calls. I mentioned an obscure book to my husband (in the same room) that has been out of print for 34 years one day while working on my computer and a short while later there was an ad for that book that popped up on gmail.

Think about that.

And NONE of this is about "protecting" us. The Boston Marathon bombers were all over the radar for their previous activities and the NSA was paying them no mind. This web is to protect the oligarchy from us peasants. We are living in 17th century France...the aristocracy pay no taxes and we are being taxed and worked to death.

Levi Genes -> LostintheUS, 24 May 2014 11:44am

The Boston Marathon bombers were all over the radar for their previous activities and the NSA was paying them no mind. This web is to protect the oligarchy from us peasants.

It's much more violently proactive than simple 'protections' from potential opposition. The reason they appear now on the 'radar' is because the so-called Boston 'bombers' were deeply run by the FBI for the same nefarious reasons as are all other patsies in the parade of US false flag operations: deflection from public investigation identifying the actual terrorist perpetrators / plausible deniability for the public to bite on to facilitate the desired effect of implemented programs of public terror. The evidence of state sponsored terror is there if one chooses to look.

The recent, violent murder in Florida of an associate / witness to that FBI operation by an FBI agent / interrogator, tasked with insuring that associate / witness's compliance to the prescriptive, government narrative of the Boston event as force fed to the public by compliant / co-opted mass media, is but yet another thinly but effectively veiled, social conditioning manipulation of public consciousness reinforcing the enabling myth of just who is the actual threat to public peace and safety.

Boston was an exercise in social conditioning to martial law where no civil rights exist. They shut the city down in contrived pretext and stormed through whatever private domain they chose as a show of force in exercise of police state power over all constitutionally based constraints. All on a desperate, audacious and unthinkable lie.

You will do exactly what you're told to do, when you're told to do it, by heavily armed masked men in black, storming through your house without your invitation, ostensibly in pursuit of and protecting you from the terrible phantoms created by their masters.

Bagdad, Boston, London, Kiev, no matter. Same game of violent control from the same power cabal while draining the hard earned wealth and civil power of the masses by the same boom/ bust / state terrorist means. All of it, an horrific extension of covert enablement by forced public pacification to Operation Gladio and its drive to global dominion.

NATO / NWO intent is defined by its break-away elitist culture of absolute authoritarianism by absolute systemic corruption in absolute secrecy. Snowden and his journalist associates are providing a glimpse of its all encompassing scope. Our individual response, or lack thereof, will determine our fate as either citizens with rights based in moral principles and economic equity, or as mere commodities for use as needed by hidden powers.

A stark choice, as the presumptive enemies of the state that we in fact are.

guest88888epinoa, 24 May 2014 3:29am

Baubles handed out - nothing changed.

Agreed. Ultimately, despite their good intentions, I feel as though both Greenwald and Snowden aren't pushing the case against dragnet surveillance hard enough. We don't need a debate. This is fascism pure and simple, and they are spying on us because they fear the day that we revolt against their putrid austerity and the general failure of capitalism.

The Grauniad of course possesses no perspective whatsoever. Seriously Mr. Sands, we need a debate? You find out the majority of the world is being spied on and violated, and you are actually think that a few cosmetic changes will make a difference?

There will be no debate, and you know it. But I suppose that while you are wealthy and safe from economic deprivation, who cares if the NSA tramples on the freedoms of common people, all in defense of the ultra-rich, right?

KilgoreTrout2012, 23 May 2014 12:14pm

"NSA has collected records on every phone call made by every American (it gathers the who, what and when of the calls, known as metadata, but not the content), as well as email data."

I don't buy it's just metadata, since the US and are allies have the technology to do so, the content is also being "saved". Most likely US "content" is collected in Great Britain to give the NSA plausible deniability that they are not collecting content. And the US probably has Great Britain's "content".

The NSA may not have the technology to truly read all that data today but someday it will all be collated, analyzed, and used to put each citizen into national security classifications. Your travel, jobs prospects, etc. will be limited based on where you fall in their assessments.

guest88888 -> KilgoreTrout2012, 24 May 2014 3:34am

I don't buy it's just metadata,

Of course I agree with you sentiment that the US and its cronies are lying through their teeth about everything, but I want to point out that metadata collection is far more intrusive than just regular wiretapping.

Greenwald gave a great example. To paraphrase:

If I call an AIDS clinic, and you monitor the content of my call, I may never bring up the actual disease in most of my conversations. I might say, let's meet at this time, or book an appointment, or make small talk etc.

But, if you have the metadata, you can know that I've been calling an AIDS clinic repeatedly. You can know where I'm calling from. You can find out where I've been getting meds (from the pharmacy).

In short, you can rapidly figure out if I have AIDS, what I'm doing about it, even how I may have got it. Much easier with metadata than simple wire-tappping.

Not that much analysis needed, since you need much less data.

AhBrightWings, 23 May 2014 12:35pm

Recommend: 16

Not sure I agree that the debate has been "more limited" in Great Britain. The Guardian is, after all, a British publication and it has had ten times (conservatively) more coverage than any other journal I know of, and continued congratulations for doing so.

The problem in the US is that we can't get any traction on the revelations that kicks over into judicial action to end this crime spree. Congress is ossified, the populace is mummified, and so we march on, becoming the United States of Zombieland, where the only signs of sentient life are in the MIC and its many tentacles and claws.

Snowden's sacrifice and Greenwald's work only have value if people wake up and use what we've learned. The mystery is what we are all waiting for. The trajectory from UPS hold-ups to being held-up in a cell is shorter--when things truly take a dire turn (and we may get lucky and they may not, I fully concede that)--than many want to concede. The rise of every despot and tyrant has illustrated that arc well. Why do we think we'll be the exception to that pattern?

Our exceptionalism appears to have blinded us in more ways than one.

Theodore McIntire, 23 May 2014 12:54pm

In addition to revealing how invasive and law/truth twisting big governments / organizations (of any orientation and denomination) are likely to behave, the Snowden revelations also showed how much the media and public are/were disengaged from reality and blindly trusting of big governments / organizations.

Except for those poor souls who live in fear or live off the fear of others... They are very afraid and angry about the Snowden revelations and any other disruptions to their fear based animal herd behavior.

CraigSummers, 23 May 2014 1:32pm

Mr. Sands

I find it interesting that you don't mention even once in your review the potential ramifications of compromising US intelligence. This is an extremely important consideration in the debate (at least to some concerned citizens). In addition, the released information goes far beyond civil liberties in many instances. One can certainly question the motives of Greenwald. Greenwald has a body of written work from Salon, the Guardian and others which indicate he was not motivated entirely by a debate about "privacy" and civil liberties.

The release of information that the NSA spied on universities in Hong Kong coincided with Snowden's arrival in the special administrative region of the People's Republic of China. This was hardly a coincidence - and shows the level of planning used by Snowden before illegally stealing tens of thousands of top secret documents.

".......The big issue at stake here is privacy, and the relationship between the individual and the state, and it goes far beyond issues of legality (although Snowden's fear of arrest.......seems rather real)...."

Jesus, ya think?

Leondeinos -> CraigSummers, 23 May 2014 4:26pm

The ramifications are simply that the NSA has been caught in its full incompetence and arrogance. Snowden did the world a great favor. Greenwald's book is a good read that does expose and explore those ramifications for the world.

The version of the Defense Intelligence Agency's assessment of damage done by Edward Snowden's leaks released by the US (here on the Guardian website) contains no information about the potential ramifications of compromising US intelligence. This "redacted" version consists 12 pages of blanks out of a total of 39 pages in the original. What you see is what you get. A year after Snowden's revelations, it is a pathetic, contemptible defence of a vast waste of money, people, and diplomatic reputation by the US government.

EFF: Amazon, AT&T, and Snapchat Most Likely To Rat On You To the Gov't

May 16, 2014 | Slashdot


jfruh (300774) writes "The EFF has released its annual "Who Has Your Back" report, which uses publicly available records to see which web companies do the most to resist government demands for your personal data, by requiring warrants and being transparent about requests received.

Social media giants Facebook and Twitter scored quite well; Snapchat was at the bottom of the list, and Amazon and AT&T didn't do much better."Here's the report itself.

russotto (537200)
#1 rats (Score:5, Informative)

Banks. They rat you out to the government in every which way. Any given transaction is sent to the DEA and IRS just for starters. And of course the NSA gets everything by hook or by crook.


Re:2014: Trusting anyone online, ever. (Score:4, Informative)

Of the few people who have commented on my original comment, I decided to reply to yours since you're touching on the most points I'd additionally like to cover anyway.

Yes, the real problem is that almost nobody will listen -- but my theory is that of that group of people who won't listen, they break down into people who don't understand, or care, or have been indoctrinated to not care, that their personal privacy is actually something of value to them, and once it's gone, it's gone, and it may not be possible to get it back. I think that the younger the person we're talking about, the less they care, and what's worse, they really think that anyone who does value and protect their privacy 'has something to hide', i.e. they think those people are Bad People who are committing crimes or something.

I blame corporate brainwashing and perhaps government propaganda for this attitude; these younger people will grow up into a world where the idea of not sharing more-or-less every moment of their waking lives with the world is completely foreign to them, and that if you don't share everything, there's something wrong with you. Older people remember a world where individual privacy was something that every healthy person wanted, and was entitled to as a human being -- and because of this attitude, younger people say 'well, they're old, they don't understand' and any warnings about privacy being violated is ignored.

So far as planning to discontinue usage of your debit card (and presumably go cash-only)? Hate to tell you, but the situation has deteriorated to the point where if you do at some point have your financial paper trail taper off to almost nothing, you'll draw the attention of the government, which will assume you're up to no good and will start scrutinizing you.

Then when they see you online footprint is also next to nothing, they'll be nearly convinced you're up to some sort of criminal activities, and you very well might be surveilled and profiled. If you happen to be in the wrong place(s) at the right time, you may be implicated in something you have absolutely nothing to do with, but since their 'profile' of you will seem to indicate to them that you're hiding something (because you're not one of the bleeting sheep they've carefully indoctrinated to be that way) it won't matter what you say to them or can prove. Welcome to the Dystopia, friend. "I do not plan on ever being a threat", you said at the end of your comment; I'm sorry, but in the end, as I said above, it won't matter, if you happen to get caught in one of their drag-nets.

I do sympathize with you, and hopefully one decade things will turn around, but until then, I actually recommend you 'hide in plain sight' because to do too much to erase yourself, ironically, will just draw attention.

[May 16, 2014] Luke Harding and the spy as editor by Giovanni Tiso

The question asked by the computer is always Are you sure you want to delete this?, never Are you sure you want to save this?, or even Are you Sure you want to write this?

Overland literary journal

What is also tritely, exhaustingly ironic, in the context of the NSA revelations and every political thriller since Enemy of the State, is that users of social media effectively write their own surveillance reports. 'Subject got up and consumed hearty organic breakfast.' 'Subject expressed unsavoury political views after reading article in the morning's paper.' Tweet-length entries in a drab chronicle of life beyond the cyber-curtain. And on top of that, we secret-police one another. 'I remember that thing you said two years ago, in fact, I have kept a record of it.' It's all filed in a myriad archives, and yours and mine can be just as sinister as those that belong to the NSA, Google or Facebook.

You'll recall what happened with Facebook. For years we all posted on it as it if weren't an archive, because it wasn't: there was no timeline nor search function. Then came Timeline, which made it possible to browse your life as you spent it on Facebook, unless you bothered to go back and delete large chunks of it in a brief time window after the introduction of the new future. This put users in front of two equally unpleasant options: revise and self-censor, or have your own barely authorised biography suddenly published under the imprint of Mark Zuckerberg. With a casual insult added to the injury: the implication by a host of commentators and Zuckerberg himself that you should have known all along that it would come to this.

When the time came, I didn't revise, I didn't self-censor. I told myself that it was a personal choice, that it had nothing to do with digital technology abhorring a vacuum. The question asked by the computer is always Are you sure you want to delete this?, never Are you sure you want to save this?, or even Are you Sure you want to write this? That's what makes the image of the self-deleting paragraph so haunting. It's a perverse inversion of how things are supposed to work. Deleting information should always and only be something that happens by accident, never on purpose, not even the purpose of an adversary. Even our enemies should want us to keep writing more and more things, the better to surveil us with.

Giovanni Tiso is an Italian writer and translator based in Aotearoa/New Zealand. In 2006 he completed a PhD at Wellington's Victoria University on the relationship between memory and technology. He also blogs at Bat, Bean, Beam and tweets as @gtiso.

[May 3, 2014] Everyone is under surveillance now, says whistleblower Edward Snowden by Associated Press

May 3, 2014 | The Guardian

The US intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden has warned that entire populations, rather than just individuals, now live under constant surveillance.

"It's no longer based on the traditional practice of targeted taps based on some individual suspicion of wrongdoing," he said. "It covers phone calls, emails, texts, search history, what you buy, who your friends are, where you go, who you love."

Snowden made his comments in a short video that was played before a debate on the proposition that surveillance today is a euphemism for mass surveillance, in Toronto, Canada.


The surveillance state exists to monitor dissent. That's what it's for.

All our comments on this site are being logged, everyone who is participating on this thread is having their emails, calls, texts and online activity monitored. GCHQ and the NSA know most of us are not not terrorists.

They are interested in the enemies of the ruling class: thinkers, dissenters, trade unionists, strikers, intellectuals, writers, teachers etc, anyone with a brain who criticises the status quo. They are terrified the working class will mobilise. Their best weapon is surveillance. It's totally political.

SinisterLord -> ellatynemouth

Everything we do online is monitored. First they collect it. All of it. After that they can dissect and analyse at their leisure.

This is not about Spooks-style races against time to catch terrorists, it's about having the capability to build dossiers on people. Even the Huff post now insists on facebook verification before users are allowed to post. It's a now a known fact, thanks to Snowden that some of the commentators on here are just GCHQ shills paid to 'nudge the debate'..


And it's working! Why? Because unlike the US and rest of the democratic world, no one over here seems to actually care.

ByThePeople -> franklin100

"There is little value in ensuring the survival of our nation (United States of America) if our traditions do not survive with it.

And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand it's meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment.

That I do not intend to permit, to the extent that it's in my control."

- Quote from JFK on April 27, 1961 - Assassinated November 22, 1963


This total surveillance society is set up in anticipation of the coming social unrest.

Longwoodsy -> HARPhilby

It's more to do with maintaining control in an abusive relationship.


If the entire population is under surveillance there is no method of analyzing that data. As an example, one big university produces millions of emails a day, how earth could anyone make sense of that data. Even if they look for 'buzzwords' they would be overloaded with crap from the guardian comment section.

Obviously, to get money from the government, the contractors (like Snowden) sell their techniques as effective. But in reality these techniques cannot work and are a total waste of resources. My only concern is this waste, not my privacy.


My personal assumption has always been that internet use and email has always been monitored by either government, the email providor,broadband providor etc.because nothing in life is free and information is valuable for these massive companies.

Having said that I am very grateful for Snowdon bringing this information to everyones attention because with little awareness and lack of control there potentially could have been some pretty nasty and petty invasions into people's privacy.

MakeBeerNotWar -> villas1

- Dershowitz is a double scumbag as he for years has pushed for the pardon of American traitor Jonathan Pollard whom he feels is so much better a human being than Snowden because he spied on the US for it's ally Israel. lol - the "ally" that did it's best to sink the USS Liberty. I wish Dershowitz had been aboard Liberty that day in 1967 as his *American* countrymen fought for their lives under attack by our "ally" and held his dying *countrymen* in his arms.

Pyrrho San Pellegrino

What a true champion of the people. He's crystalized the awareness of people that they're being spied on en masse. This ties in with the one-world gov agenda. The ultimate vision is to have us all spied on, because people will be basically worker ants. And only certain types of people will be able to climb the ladder in that one-world setup. It will be an ethnoreligious hierarchy. No ascension is possible in that world for people outside of the supremacist alpha controller group, except in terms of how good a slave that ant is. The better slave you are, the more butt-kissing you do, the more you can get closer to the power nexus. It's a true satanic setup. I'm sure this sounds all far-fetched and surreal, but it's here already; it's just creeping and lurking and inching ever more close to total domination, when it will more clearly show itself on the surface. But by that time everyone will be totally helpless to resist. Tyranny is in the future for humanity. One of the few obstacles to this is their worker ants going public and revealing the plans. That's why they're terrified of people like Snowden. They cannot have any more Snowdens, which is why they will go so far as waging proxy war on Russia. But Snowdens --- people who have the free, rebellious human spirit --- are man's

ZeroNada7even -> Pyrrho San Pellegrino

None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.

- Goethe

friztofratzo -> Pyrrho San Pellegrino

The sad truth is most of us couldn't care less, we already LOVE Big Brother.


If the NSA is paranoid about surveillance , it's not to protect you from terrorists. Its for 3 simple reasons:

  • Protect themselves from public uprising
  • Serve and help US corporations
  • Means of coercion, manipulation, corruption in politics home and abroad.


Quote: Everyone is under surveillance now

The only one good thing about that is the NSA,GHQ and security services know just how much they are justifiably reviled for their abuse of power in spying on untold millions of innocent people.

Bolshiepamphleteer -> MadWorld

Are they bovvered ?

icurahuman2 -> Bolshiepamphleteer

Are they bovvered ?

That everyone now knows? You bet they're "bovvered"! No-one trusts them, them being the NSA/GCHQ etc cabal, they're families certainly don't, or their neighbours, nor do their co-workers who are now all potential whistleblowers or informants. I wouldn't be surprised to see some "go postal" under the stress of it all. Any social standing they might have had before has detriorated by a long ways, I bet they don't get invited to as many backyard BBQ's as they used to.


Edward Snowden is a hero and the defenders of the secret state are everywhere. Secret State makes representation and democracy meaningless.


No one can prevent terrorism when a state uses it as a weapon against its own people. When a state uses terror it is fearful of all those who have not pledged allegiance, who are not conscripts, who are not mercenaries. The state then claims it understands terror and how it works, but, of course, it never sees the bully coming unless it really wants to. If we are being left alone then we must have a use to the state and that is such a horrible thought.


The huge problem we now have is the complacency of most people regarding this problem. As a teacher, I was shocked when My class of 17 Year-olds said they didn't mind the NSA having access to their Facebook page but they found the idea of their parents having access to it intolerable. So basically, they don't mind hundreds of strange adults in a foreign country having access, but do mind allowing the people who love and care for them most to have access.

The public need to have their consciousness raised. The is a ticking bomb...


On the plus side, at least MI5 have a complete list of UKIP and BNP sympathisers

oppons -> jsane

On the plus side?

Do you really think the security services consider data from ukip and bnp websites and forums a bonus, or even important?

In what situation do you think in GCHQ they are going to say 'Phew, disaster averted guys, by some miracle we managed to successfully hack the ukip and bnp servers, the Gods must be looking down on us'

Nope, cant envisage that ever being considered a plus side, but what I can see is some weak attempt by you at implying ukip and bnp would having something to fear from mi15, nice try 4/10


That Charlie Bauer 2013 magazine article.

So the truth is finally out - we're all being watched. Some time ago I covered online identities including shagsites like Grindr, but the very notion of this most recent internet profiling is making me feel a bit queezy. Either way, I can't help thinking that all this Ed Snowden stuff is really just the tip of the slippery iceberg.

All this surveillance makes me wonder how they are ever going to get us to behave ourselves. We're all free and well out of our closets and we all know our rights. And we're not doing anything illegal, are we? What we do in bed is (now) our own business as long as it doesn't constitute any form of involuntary force over another. Correct? And we can also perve away across the internet - because we see this as free information- and delude ourselves that we are still operating within the law. Even if we don't know what the law is.

Most people I talk to about my concerns tell me they have nothing to hide, 'Whoever they are, they can't spy on everything we get up to online. Can they?'

There are also those of us who say 'they can look at whatever they want – I'm not hiding anything or breaking any laws…' This is where we come unstuck.

It was Michel Foucault who came up with the idea of surveillance which he based on old fashioned prisons called Panopticons. In the centre of these prisons was an observation tower with slit windows where the guards would sit. In a circle around these were the prison cells with railings on both sides so the guards could see through each cell at every prisoner. But here was the trick - the prisoners couldn't tell if they were being observed or not because they couldn't see through the slits in the tower at the guards. What the prisoners did, because they didn't know if they were being watched, was regulate their own behavior.

In other words, they started to 'behave' themselves. This meant the job was done – and cheaply too because sometimes the central turrets had no guards inside but the prisoners didn't know that and so they behaved themselves.

This is becoming the same way with the internet but they can't afford to police us anymore so they profile us instead – building up a contrived image of who we are via every activity we make on the internet, text, phone, Facebook, Grindr…

So do we have to 'Behave' ourselves because they may be looking? It's actually gone beyond that. We have to regulate our behavior now because Ed Snowden informed us that they can go back at any point and put together a case based on hearsay from our own digital history. And we will not be able to defend this because they will carry all the so-called 'evidence'.

Whenever you complain about a politician shafting the economy or Murdoch using wealth to cover everything up, just remember that information is also designed to make you lose all faith in any system of order. So that when if it were all to break down, in that good old colonial way, the powers that be will stomp in with a new moral treaty in hand in order to 'protect' us from ourselves.

Profiling is not only about 'Targeting' advertising at you via your online searches. They now know your all your sexual peccadillos by what porn you view – even how long it take for you to orgasm as a result - Is that personal enough for you?

As for 'having nothing to hide', your personal information may seem innocuous now, but think about some idiot invested with power at GCHQ compiling their tailored choice of profile based on carefully selected 'real events' from your online life. What about that time you and a mate stumbled on the 'How to make a nail bomb' website when you were drunk or having a disagreement. Or that time when you typed 'Sexy boys' into Google search when you really should have tapped in 'Sexy men'.

All of this - as well as what you bought at the Tesco Metro yesterday - and your most recent STD information, is currently on a chip the size of your little toenail at a storage facility in Fuckhampton, Pennsylvania. And it's not what you are doing now in your temporarily emancipated lives but what can be held against you from your digital past if someone decides you've suddenly stepped out of line. And they wont be favorable either. Even if you believe yourself to have a moral compass, they can shift the polarity of your identity to make you appear to be Josef Fritzl if they so desire.

What will happen is that we will enter a closet far colder than the one we've just broken out of. Of course we'll all be equal - but we'll all be stuck in there together.

Relax - none of this is actually real. It's only a profile of you that does not exist yet and will only ever really be a fragmented case in a virtual court of law.


Not that I agree with it, but I think people completely overestimate the ability for a spy agency to process all that data in a meaningful way...

Pyrrho San Pellegrino -> tixxZadinia

That's what the 3rd party contractors are for, like Booz Hamilton. Shift the grunt processing work to the private sector.

jsane -> StixxZadinia

That misses the point. Without Snowden's revelations the establishment would have denied outright the scale of data collection. Anyone who says "I'm fine about this" is entitled to their opinion. But it's clearly illegal/unconstitutional and that is why it was covered up.

Once you have sorted data collection, the next step is processing. Car numberplate recognition from CCTV is easy. Face recognition is growing in reliability (Facebook is interested in this technology, and is making huge strides. I'm sure the NSA is at least as advanced, if only by stealing their software). So in a country like the UK with high CCTV coverage, and high mobile phone usage, suddenly the secret police know everywhere you go, and everyone you meet.
I would imagine this in place now. In another 5 years, imagine what could be achieved.

Cape7441 StixxZadinia

I think people completely overestimate the ability for a spy agency to process all that data in a meaningful way...

Absolutely 100% agree, there are approximately 2.5billion Internet users worldwide, there is no way they can personally monitor more than a tiny minority. If you do something that raises your profile as a paedophile, terrorist, fraudster, industrial spy then they can focus in on you but for ordinary law abiding individuals the concern is, in my opinion, vastly overhyped.

supercobrajet StixxZadinia

You clearly have not been paying attention have you.

StixxZadinia -> supercobrajet

I'm not paranoid is that's what you mean. But I am realistic. These days you can still make a large passenger airline disappear, do you really think they can get anything sensible out of the sheer volume of internet traffic? I doubt it.


People's privacy is violated without any suspicion of wrongdoing, former National Security Agency contractor claims

In Corporate political American & the United Kingdom world this is how it will be.

We, us humble plebs, live in their Corporate political world not them in ours.

We are just commodities who are there for them to use and abuse.

They preach democracy and freedom at home and have no shame, at all, propping up dictators across the world and doing so for the past five decades. The, Kiev, fascist molotov cocktail police murdering coup d'ιtat thugs their latest expensive NATO adventure.

Corporate White House America:

£3 Billion corporate power. Lobbyist in the back pockets of politicians; paid to lobby the Corporate White House to buy get out of jail free cards in order to get anticompetitive favours and avoid their responsibility to the wider world community.


It's highly unlikely that surveillance would have prevented the 9/11 attacks. The Pentagon is protected from attack by a no fly zone enforced by the Air Force. Any unauthorised plane flying towards the Penthouse is supposed to be intercepted and ordered to change course. Non compliance would result in it being shot down. One or two light planes were intercepted in the months before the attack, yet on the day a huge airliner flew in unchallenged, and the planes that should have intercepted it were hundreds of miles away, and flying in the wrong direction. If they can't get that right, what chance is there that the terrorists would have been noticed.

QueenBoadicea -> derekcolman

Nor did it prevent the Boston bombings or any of the high school shootings, so what is it for, if not to spy on all of us thereby making our democracy a total lie

The GCHQ is the bigger enemy of the two. NO transparency, NO meaningful oversight, NO meaningful government control.

And they replicate Apple when it comes to answering pertinent questions.

The good news is that they are where they never wanted to be - front and centre of the public's attention.

Where is the legislation, or the regulation, that empowered them to steal personal pictures, including nudes, of Yahoo users. What security benefit has that served?

At least the watched, us, can take meaningful steps to make their spying harder. Use TOR, TAILS and VPN software. Clear your cookies daily (a browser setting); use SILENT CIRCLE, use PGP, and remove your SIM (and hide it) when crossing international borders. If you buy Chinese-made cell phones you are assured they don't send everything to the NSA or GCHQ.

The Terrorists/Freedom Fighter/Criminals are already changing their modes of communication, rendering much of what GCHQ and NSA redundant. Notwithstanding the fact that the key targets are going 'dark' to GCHQ and NSA, these spies continue to consume disproportionate amounts of money - all for a failing enterprise.

If you participate in lawful public protest, don't use your cell handsets, switch to MESH radio products that resist jamming and can easily be encrypted (Search for MESH network. Occupy) or look in Wikipedia for MESH.

Serval; Dovetail; Musubi; Auto-BAHN; Twimight all provide information on how to keep YOUR communications private and lock out GCHQ & NSA.

Remember, the longer they spend decrypting 'nothing' messages, their failure increases.

Remember, using social networks (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) is giving your privacy away. And feeding the database of the spies.

Pyrrho San Pellegrino -> JaitcH
I kind of feel like the military project that was the internet was phased into the civilian sector 20-some-odd years ago, with the explicit one-world agenda in mind. But that was high-level NWO planning. The lower level implementers and architects in academia thought it was about "freedom" and "increased consumer choice" and "communication" and "bridging divides" and "connecting the world" and other such pleasantries.

The shadow world government had other intentions: the collectivization of everyone.

It gives the shadow government a top-down view of basically the whole social grid and all of its interconnections. That's achieved through front-end services like Facebook; but also, there's a back-end "Facebook" that the public doesn't see. It's a general file on everyone's info. It's all power.

They're getting their future worker ants to self-organize and self-grid. Getting on the grid is pitched as the height of "freedom", with words like "sharing" and being "connected".


The first moron to say 'If you've done nothing wrong or nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear', gets a massive kick in the knackers. To those people who still believe that it holds true, god help you.

jetassistedostrich -> nowwhataretheyupto

You got that right. Powerful political organizations are compiling lists of potential political enemies who's only crime is to hold, peacefully and democratically, an opposing political point of view. How this information may be used in another changed world after the next 9/11 style event, and the next "patriot act" that further removes due process, cannot be known, but I cannot imagine it will be to the advantage of any ordinary, law-abiding citizen.


The left should rejoice over the stasi controls. Ideology they have is control everything. Look at all the lefts laws. The word they live to use is control. The more control you give the more the stasi will take.

antipodes -> LeftIsShrinking

So Hitler was from the left then? I would say that we get confused by using labels that don't really fit. Tony Blair was hardly from the left while Malcolm Fraser was hardly from the right. Today's ALP is a weird and confused mixture of left centrist and right. Even the unions have their right wingers like Joe Bullock who used his corporate power to get elected to parliament.
Those creating our controlled world today are not Governments but corporations through neocons with one foot in the corporate camp and the other in politics.
Anyone who watched the Victoria Nuland tape on Ukraine should understand that it was not Obama or the US congress deciding what would happen in Ukraine it was Nuland who summoned the Vice President and to the Head of the UN to go to Ukraine to give "attaboy" speeches in favour of her chosen new leader of Ukraine.

In the USA, ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Committee) with their powerful corporate members continue to push their model laws through the Congress and state legislatures to reduce gun controls and water down laws protecting workplace safety environmental protection.

The NSA and other state security organizations work with ALEC and the Bankers to destroy democratic protest movements like Occupy.

Tony Abbott is moving Australia towards this USA model and already has a weaker version of ALEC in the IPA. There members and employees are thick on the ground in the Abbott administration.
He is also moving to reduce the power Government and hand this power and government businesses to corporations.

Any person who wants to Australia to not be run by right wing corporations should be grateful for Snowden's revelations and be prepared to resist Abbott and his cronies in the IPA. They do not have your interest at heart.


Errr. And this is a surprise?

antipodes -> murraynho

It may not be a surprise but it is confirmed which gives those of us who care about our freedom and our right to privacy greater moral authority when we contest the states right to collect masses of information on us.

What is also concerning is that in the USA and increasingly in Australia and other Western countries those in charge of security and insecurity are private companies owned by huge powerful military industrial and finance companies that can spy on their rivals and steal their intellectual property for their own enrichment at our expense.

The information they gather can be used for blackmailing individuals to profit the security companies and to force politicians to award them more contracts.


I don't mind being spied on, so long as I don't get blown up, not a hard choice when it comes down to it.

And really, lets be honest, the CIA and mi6/GCHQ are after the bad guys, I don't think they are interested in anything apart from stopping terrorists, and if you think otherwise i'm afraid you are delusional.

Most people fall over themselves to let the world know their every move via twitter/facebook, why get so mad?

maddymilnes -> oppons

Define bad guys...imagine if an extreme right wing party were in power and what they would do with the information.


Well, the NSA and GCHQ are each receiving about 2 Tb of randomly-generated data from me each month.

Drown the fuckers.

MCA van Loenen

What is the big deal here. Only people that want to hide something especially things online should be worried. And that can only be a good thing. Away with all the secrecy!

curiouswes -> MCA van Loenen

What is the big deal here.

If you live in the USA and can read this article,, and can then tell me there is no "big deal" here, then I'd venture to say the big deal is your reading comprehension ability.

antipodes -> MCA van Loenen

Great MCA van Loenen will you kindly post all of your banking information online so we can read it and while you are at it what about your personal emails between you and your partner so we can be sure you are not some sort of sexual deviant.


It comes as no surprise that, in an inter-connected technological world, we are all subject to surveillance of some sort.

When governments use this as a means of controlling their population and people in foreign countries - as is happening - we need to ask exactly who is behind the mass surveillance and who (what state, political group, or religious group, etc) they are they working for.

Governments will - already have - attempted to use "terrorism" and "national security" as pretexts for any form of surveillance. It is unacceptable without clear explanation, democratic approval and accountability. We need to protect our freedoms.

Whistleblowers like Edward Snowden put their lives in jeopardy to inform us of what various state bodies do "in the interest of the public." They need to be protected, congratulated and valued for their bravery and honesty.

Liberator37 OrlandosTwin

we are all subject to surveillance of some sort.

It's never ceased to amaze me that the collection of data for marketing purposes (the more efficient delivery of offers that can be either accepted or refused) is widely regarded as less acceptable than the collection of data by government for whatever purpose it may deem proper, including extreme prejudice, which amount to offers impossible to refuse.

There is, alas, much more government spying to come, as soon as they get around to it.


From Sept 11 we willingly let them do it to us .1000's of changes to laws in 100's of countries ensued .We believed the story of the war on terror . Now we act surprised that they did it . Would you expect a police officer to say 'no thanks we dont want more powerful weapons and we wouldnt use them if we had them anyway ' ?

AhBrightWings -> sunshinewestmelb

Well...that's exactly why some of us were protesting the very day the insane tautology "war on terror" (how exactly do you declare war on an abstract noun?) was unleashed. We were told we were "cranks," "un-American," "traitors," and "terrorist sympathizers." Those were the kind words.

My sister had her yard trashed repeatedly, garbage thrown at her, death threats left on the lawn, obscenities screamed at her house, and her car keyed for daring to hang a sign that kept track of the Iraqi war dead. My niece was reprimanded by the principal and threatened with explusion, at ten, for posting a picture on her locker of bombed Iraqi children, with the simply query: "What would you do if it were someone you knew? Join the peace movement." My sister's friend, an elderly Quaker woman, stood every single Saturday for ten years protesting this misbegotten war. She has been called a "fucking bitch," had trash, rocks, bottles, and dog shit thrown at her for exercising her constitutional rights to assemble and speak. She often went home bruised. My children were a toddler and five-year-old protesting outside of the White House with a million other people. My daughter returned at ten, having driven with me from Ohio to mark the onset of this insanity, and I said to my friends, fellow Salon readers that met up to protest, that I now realized there was a real chance she would mark each decade of her life in the shadow of this insanity.

So no, not all of "us" by any means are surprised by this. Some of us called it down the line exactly as it has unfolded one terrible, inevitable, absolutely predictable step at a time. Some of us even tried in futile, small ways to stop it. We were told we were wearing tin hats and were fools for the efforts.

That said, I agree with your overarching sense that it is too late. I have no idea of how-- and little hope that we can-- now backtrack, especially since the NSA revelations have not tipped us over into widespread protests, ones where those doing the right thing aren't being excoriated and alienated for holding their government accountable.


But it isn't just the mainstream media we shouldn't trust , we shouldn't trust the alternative media either. People like Alex Jones , Christopher Greene , David Icke and Abby Martin of RT's Breaking the Set are all raving lunatics in my opinion although much of what they say maybe true , I feel some of it is just to try to scare people. When people are scared the global elite have total control. So I sometimes wonder if the people I've mentioned above are just working for the elitists trying to scare us into slavery , or are they true fighters of freedom?

William Greendale -> EXILE64

The political power is in the hands of those who have the economic power, ie. the capitalist class.

Many of the alternative media seems to be against state control, but is any on them against capitalism? The state is in the hands of capitalists and that doesn't change as long as the society is a capitalist one.

It could be a good strategy by the capitalists to make people believe that they should fight against state as such and not fight for the control of state (ie. fight for the control of the means of production).


The next step is the worrisome one....where the local police start being able to use the information and sit outside your house watching your internet activity and then busting you for checking out porn based upon whether your too liberal or not for their liking. Not too dissimilar from Brazil or a Kafka novel. 10 years ago people believed it would never get to where we are now....but look at where it is.

America...Land of the actually mirroring the former Soviet Union in many of it's behaviors.

elevengoalposts griffinalabama

''where the local police start being able to use the information and sit outside your house watching your internet activity and then busting you for checking out porn based upon whether your too liberal or not for their liking.''

Do you really imagine that anyone would ever be interested in 'no marks' like that?

Longasyourarm -> elevengoalposts

They would if you are an elected official, or a political enemy, or maybe if they just fancy what you have.

Hoover did it at the FBI, and human nature does not change.


Ourselves, and our lives are now nothing but searchable criteria. This is a stupid amount of power waiting to be misused by anyone with access to it and the fact that people don't realise or seem to care is worrying and sad.

Credit where credit's due though, this government have done a great job stifling debate on this issue here.


From everything I have read, it seems clear that the NSA and collaborating governments, such as our own, are collecting all possible information on all citizens. This is processed in gigantic databases that can be accessed at any time. The 'legitimate' use of this system then requires an investigator, unknown and unaccountable to us, to examine someone's life record only when they have a valid reason, which must be selected from a drop-down list.

The reassurance offered by former NSA director Keith Alexander (which tacitly confirms this picture) is that these are good, responsible people, there to protect us, and they will be disciplined if they abuse the searches.

So, don't worry, everyone. The state and its foreign allies are recording the communications, contacts, movements, purchase history, library lists, and views of every man, woman and child. But it's fine, because they are not allowed to look at your life record unless they give a reason. Also, the state and all its foreign allies are comprised of good people, and only ever out to help you.

That they have the balls to tell us this with a straight face, to even suggest that this is compatible with the Constitution, demonstrates the extent of the state's contempt for the citizen, and the once unthinkable reality it has normalised.


The implication of criticisms of unconstitional mass surveilance, is that NSA's actual missions, as opposed to "preserving our way of life," are antithetical propositions. Bush and Condoleeza Rice, with ties to the oil industry, received briefs before 9/11 warning them of Al Qaida plans to use planes to attack buildings of significance in the U.S., and chose not to act to secure airports. What security-related information NSA might, or might not, have collected at that time, was obviously irrelevant to the outcome of a war on Iraq a country that did not attack us and which, at the time, had nothing to do with Al Qaida, and had not, as propagandists alleged, weapons of mass destruction.


I've seen a Facebook meme a few times that says something like 'pointing out the illegal things your government has done is itself illegal'. Is this just more Facebook crap or is it actually based on something?

William Greendale maxiboy339

Well, it might be true. I wouldn't be surprised if some anti-terrorism law said in effect just that.

Pointing out that the governement has done something illegal could be seen as hostile against the government and as such as an attack against the government and thereby "all the good people".

The feeling that those who make or impose the laws don't need to abide them is quite prevalent in our time. In the good old days people thought it was important that the authorities were law-abiding.

SinisterLord William Greendale

Reminds me of that ridiculous statement by John Sawer - Chief of MI6 in response to the Guardian's revelations:-

"It's clear that our adversaries are rubbing their hands in glee," he told lawmakers. "Al Qaeda is lapping it up.""

Scare-mongering arsewipes basically.

Andrew G Mooney

And all of this data is secure within the covert surveillance systems? How long before there's a trade with data-mining corporations and their HR departments?

Of the 40k people with security clearance to access these systems, how many are double-agents working on behalf of foreign intelligence agencies or terrorist groups?

It's amusing that most people continue with the charade of pseudo-anonymity. What people need to do is flood the internet with bogus search data and "Likes!" to render the algorithms of surveillance unreliable. It's a personal choice as to whether or not people choose to leave a valid data trail by their online activity. I'd love to see any agency try to parse my online data trail to my real-life. \

If even a small percentage adopt "Do Not Track", randomly likes things they dislike, and generally remix/mash-up their data, the corporations that complied with the surveillance state demands suddenly will have a blizzard of irrelevant data they cannot monetize. And there would be some rather amusing court cases that would establish the fact that the Interweb is already trashed. Just because somebody posts something on the Interweb, does that mean it's "true"? Do people take an oath to confirm their search history and shopping wish-lists are true?

Time for everyone to become The Unreliable Narrator. It's time to destroy Teh Interwebz, as an act of revenge. And for lulz, of course!

William Greendale Andrew G Mooney

I think that's exactly what those in power want to achieve: make us like something we dislike.


What Snowden proved id that the US Government has declared a direct war with the US Constitution in order to 'somehow' provided security. So my question to the US Government is, what are you fighting to protect?

If all this metadata collection is supposed to leave us safer then why are there so many school shootings, and mass shooting on our military bases, or the Boston bombing, Benghazi and the list goes on and on... Either the US government is spending trillions on a failed surveillance program or they knowingly allowed these horrific events to take place. Regardless of which answer is true the solution is the same, refund the NSA! Arrest the Congress members and Judges that supported it on charges of treason and prove to us that the 14th Amendment still exist by dropping all charges against Snowden.


The story here shouldn't be "everyone is being spied on" because we knew that. The story is various parties had a debate. But that's not really interesting.

What is interesting and at the same time headshakingly depressing is the decision by the German government to not allow Edward Snowden to come to Germany to give evidence before a hearing on the NSA on the basis of (unsolicited) "advice" (for that read "threat") from a US law firm that anyone in the committee who interviewed him would be effectively breaking the (US) law and would be liable to prosecution (quote: "has jurisdiction to prosecute crimes committed in Germany, Russia or elsewhere through which classified information from the U.S. has been disclosed") and, for example, might not want to step foot in the USA for fear of being arrested. The German government said they didn't want to upset commercial and political relations between the two countries.


Invent an enemy, in this case an Islamic bogeyman, to enable justification of mass surveillance. The (supposed) terrorists are not the ones the NSA and GCHQ see as a threat to the powers that be. It's really Mr and Mrs average that they feel need spied on and suppressed.


People forget that 9/11 was the start of 'preemption', adopted from techniques used by clever people in the Middle East. No longer would the West respond to attacks, it would respond to 'perceived threats'.

Preemptive strikes are based on intelligence gathering and give the user the godlike power to take out a 'potential' threat before the threat is enacted: so now we have more arrests on unfounded, unproven accusations, actions taken by 'association', and the equivalent within our own societies of drone strikes on innocent people acting 'suspiciously' with the concomitant 'collateral damage' of innocent women and kids. We have grown used to seeing it happen on our screens and told it is in our own interests.

Preemption through mass data storage makes people think that so much data cannot possibly be scanned so quickly or meaningfully and therefore is not a threat to the innocent. To understand how quickly the infinitessimal can be read, try first folding the biggest piece of paper you can find more than ten times - you quickly find it is so thick you cant even get to a hundred layers. Now realise that computers can repeat things millions of times in a second and don't have things like 'thickness' to stop them - then do the final test and do a Google search: all you have to do is put in three or four words that 'imply' meaning and you will get an INSTANT answer from the TRILLIONS of bits of data that Google hold and add to constantly every day.

Intelligence agencies obviously have the equivalent speed of filtering for their own data and can trawl every day's data for their 'meaningful combinations in an instant.

Then consider what you get from Google: you get 'weighted' information according to the commercial preferential treatment certain sources pay for to place their infommercials first. Google also tries to preempt what you are looking for by cookying your own details and using those cookies it to set your (or more probably its own) priorities.

So the intel agencies can easily do the same - they must set 'weights of suspicion' into their searches to preempt who is most likely to be those persons they are looking for.

All very well you may say, but we know that drone victims have often been zapped for merely carrying out actions that fit a 'pattern' (i.e. search pattern).

By writing this comment, I may be attributing to myself a suspicious pattern and will rise up the suspicion order. Why? Because I am intelligent and can see how things work? Because I may be informing other innocent people (who by preemption are quite likely nevertheless to be other 'suspicious characters') and I therefore need to be silenced in case the wrong people see how its done??

That is how we, as innocent observers, can very quickly and very easily get branded as suspicious by the use of automated pattern searching. Anybody who has used artificial intelligence programming will know that expert systems rarely tell the system user how they reached their clever conclusions and how just one input error can lead to a totally wrong solution to the problem. That is how drone controllers kill innocent people and that is how the types of systems now being used by all intel agencies are so dangerous without human intelligence having a full grasp of and control over all the stages of the filtering process.

So don't tell me I have nothing to fear by being an 'innocent citizen', a bystander to the new 'shoot them before they shoot you' culture so typical of the US gun lobby mentality, or CIA 'shit happens' consolation spin, and 'don't worry: what you don't know can't hurt you' political demagoguery.


Surveillance isn't security it's ideology.

The ability of secret services who operate, in part, outside of the laws we commonly understand anyway, to snoop on anybody is, well exactly what they are designed to do.

So who gets snooped on ? Generally speaking the figures show that it's just less that 500.000 per 50 million who interest the secret services. It's worth drawing on the procedures of 'neutralisation' which the Nazis applied to each country it invaded. Lists of Jews and the racially impure aside, the short lists of suspects to be neutralised usually only ran into the 10s of thousands per entire population. The list of individuals to be 'neutralised' in the event of a successful Nazi invasion in the UK was a mere 17.000 individuals. The statistics reveal that it is the minority of a population who maintain the presence liberal freedoms largely through their voice.

What do you have to do to get on the snoop list ? Well apart from the usual connections with anything political including it seems being a member of an anti-ring road pressure group, crime, vice, drugs, terrorism, illicit money , arms, slave, terrorism, contentious forms of cultural expression etc - if you stick your neck out and get noticed - if you want to be a player - if you make yourself publicly known, if you become associated with any kind of issue that comes to bare in the media, if you approach any national institution where state security has an aspect, then you are potentially a subject who needs to be looked in to.

On top of that you have to look at the political allegiances of the intelligent service personnel who may bend the law so they can examine you at close call. There're very likely to be into the fuzziness of the law that operates within intelligence anyway. On top of that they get a kick out of the power snooping gives them. Then there's always the bonus they might be sourcing a subject who needs to be legitimately watched and that kind of find creates promotion. On top of that might be a background in the military, perhaps with service in Northern Ireland along with a pathological right wing allegiances to, in the UK at least, Queen and country. In the UK the police are notoriously divided by along class lines with the Police traditionally loathing the upper middle class bastions of the Law courts and judges. This division runs through the heart of the institutions that run through British Law. Your rogue snooper is likely to belong to the upper middle class loathing / right wing / Freemason aspirant faction.

The one safe guard in the UK at least, is that paranoid secret service snoopers with nothing better to do may feel an omnipotent sense of power over individuals, even revel in a sense of actually authoring by veto History itself, but their hands are in fact tied by the 'case-live locks' which bind the results of snooping. These simple rules and procedures which control the ability of a case file to actually condemn a subject in a court of law are the difference between living in a fascist/totalitarian state and living in a free liberal state. The line that separates them turns out to be very close in deed. A simple procedure that must be followed. However it effectively castrates the omnipotent fantasies of our annoying in-house secret service snoopers and defers them to the reality of Law which in the end is often organised by the priorities and budget constraints of front line police with limited man-power and who unlike their secret service counter parts, must be seen to act strictly within accordance of the Law.

Edward Frederick -> Ezell

Knowledge is power.
Privileged knowledge is the destroyer of justice.

Egalitarian economics and politics cannot exist without egalitarian information access and processing


George Orwell will be turning in his grave

Serves us right!

We are more interested in interest rates, mortgages and footy than our own freedom

As for anybody else's freedom?

Dream on!


It's all about money.

The Washington-led New World Order have cynically hijacked 911 and used it as their excuse to watch and record everything we do.

It's got effectively nothing to do with terrorism, and everything to do with industrial espionage and control.

As with pursuing the mafia, one only needs to follow the money trail.

And it all leads back to big business and senior politicians in Washington (and satellite regimes).

Vocalista -> eldudeabides

With the collapse of communism in 1989, the powers that (should never) be needed a new bogeyman to continue the military industrial complex...terrorism is the new communism.

consciouslyinformed -> eldudeabides

Yes it is all about money.

The surveillance, however did not begin with 9/11; the surveillance has been in effect for many many many years. Especially more so with the advent of computers.

Try using the Internet to learn about the way science, philosophers, and other more highly beneficial groups of human beings have been able to demonstrate some of the most complex designs of the universe, and how those mysteries reveal far more important aspects of our connection to "the whole universe." That, my friend is reality. The other bs, is a fiction perpetrated by individuals whose wealth and position they pay others to be part of a demeaning exercise for further wealth and power, is their own fable. Remember, most fairy tales have horrific content, such as what nightmares are made of....

Use the knowledge that we have unfettered access to, in order to pursue loftier insight and enlightenment, and leave the head games to the head cases! Yes?


I watched the debate on the live stream provided (sad , I know ;-) )

It seemed to me, Dershowitz wanted to make the debate one of: Surveillance: for or against. He may be great at law , but he clearly knew nothing on the technical side about what these agencies do.

Although, he caught Grenwald out at one point with regards to Greenwald's point about 'Terrorism ' being just a pretext' ,Dershowitz rightly reasoned, that therefore there must be a another motive, which Greenwald couldn't or wouldn't elaborate on . Greenwald could have and shouild have brushed this off easier though.

The killer point was made by Greenwald imho, it was made at Hayden's expense. Hayden claimed multiple oversight protections are in place to prevent misuse of data. However, Greenwald rightly countered with his own question; If so many protections are in place how come Snowden walked off with all your documents, and worse, you didn't at the time (and still don't know having spent millions investigating) what he took?


What amazes me is that what we see today is not new and didn't just happen yesterday!

But the problem was that most people weren't paying attention when they should have been!

I had argued over fifteen years ago, that the Government had the ability to watch, read and listen to everything we did with the internet and mobile phones, and also pointed out at the time that because they had the ability, they were almost certainly going to utilise it! They has already passed laws that required that US computer and communication companies install back doors into equipment and software sold to foreign companies to enable them to do so and there was no reason to believe that they wouldn't use the same ability to spy domestically.

People rolled their eyes and accused me of being paranoid because no-one would believe that they would do so!

The fact that the technology, that makes the internet and these other forms of communications possible, were all born of military projects, and the Government was quite happy to give away this knowledge for civilian purposes, should have given us a clue that when they finally arrived in our homes, the technology could be used for more nefarious purposes.

And so it has.

Nothing is given away for free! There is always a price!


"What is state surveillance?" Greenwald asked. "If it were about targeting in a discriminate way against those causing harm, there would be no debate.

Well said, Glenn, as usual. and many of us agree. (As for Hayden, who would ever trust a man who says, "Trust me.")

If one really wants to know about some of the indiscriminate activities taking place in the U.S., please take a look at "Gang stalking" (a terrible term, IMO) is nothing more than "street language" for certain counterintelligence activities that are being run by the FBI, in conjuction with other agencies, including state and local law enforcement. These "activities" are nothing more than witch hunts, in most cases) Disinformation swirls... and anyone who tries to get the attention of the MSM (or anyone else, for that matter) is quickly labeled "delusional".

So, bottom line, what we currently have in the U.S. is a Stasi-like apparatus, ruining the lives of a lot of good people. For now, these operations are running under the radar of most, but that they're a reality... is a fact. Bush and Cheney apparently decided to run with Operation TIPs, without congressional authorization, and it continues.

Make no mistake, "Operation TIPS" (with some twists) is in full swing and has been for a very long time:

[May 03, 2014] Ask Slashdot What To Do With Misdirected Email

The fact that gmail ignores dot in email address treating [email protected] and [email protected] has interesting security implications. The same for treating [email protected] and [email protected] as identical. As one commenter noted "Oh and Google needs to admit they fucked up and fix it, I'm pretty sure that guys info I got could lead to some sort of lawsuit."
Jan 13, 2014 | Slashdot

An anonymous reader writes "My Gmail account is of the form (first initial).(middle initial).(common last name) I routinely receive emails clearly intended for someone else. These range from newsletters to personal and business emails. I've received email with various people's addresses, phone numbers and even financial information.

A few years ago I started saving the more interesting ones, and now have an archive of hundreds of emails directed at no less than eight distinct individuals. I used to try replying to the personal ones with a form response, but it didn't seem to help.

To make matters worse, I frequently find I can't use my email to create a new account at various sites because it's already been registered. Does anyone else have this problem? Is there any good way to handle this?"


Get a real mail account (5, Insightful)

Get a real mail account and get off Gmail/Hotmail/other free service. You get what you pay for.


Re: Get a real mail account (4, Informative)

This. Domains are cheap, and hosting/forwarding is cheap. Plus you get some level of personalization.

Also easier to remember. [email protected] is catchy while [email protected] is generic and easily forgotten.


Re: Get a real mail account (4, Insightful)

Exactly. This also covers the case where your ISP or Microsoft or Google does something that you can't abide by. It decouples you from your provider.

You can move to a different email hosting service or even run your own without much inconvenience. It also looks a little more professional than having a HotMail account.

Anonymous Coward

Re: Get a real mail account

Absolutely. I must have avoided the melee since I domained back in '95. Gmail was interesting for porn accounts and whatnot, but now mailinator is better.

Gmail isn't good for anything anymore except privacy violations.


Re: Get a real mail account (1)

I've used my own domain for 9 years with paid hosting thru a major host. Personally I can't stand webmail and stick to traditional POP3 email and for that purpose it suits me. But it is easy enough to set up domain forwarding to services like gmail if you choose (most likely for a fee).

The nice thing about buying a domain is you can pretty much set up unlimited email addresses under the domain for any purpose you choose, or use a single email address as a "catch-all" for said domain. Web services like Facebook won't know and won't care.

As for specific hosting recommendations, they are all about the same in terms of terrible service and support, but I encourage you to research and decide for yourself.

Anonymous Coward

Re: The only plausible solution... (0)

Is to change your name

You'd be surprised at the amount of misaddressed email I get at [email protected]. It's rather astonishing, I do say.


Re:Abandon Your Real Name (1)

As for the rest of your problem, just set up a second Gmail address with a nonsensical middle name (first initial).turnip.(common last name) and have it forward to your "real" gmail address. Problem solved.

This is actually a good idea even if you don't have the problem that the original poster had. I created a new gmail account with that general idea a little while back which I use for things like online retailers. It makes it really easy to filter those emails out of my personal inbox, which can be a pain sometimes otherwise.

The [email protected] addresses would let you do something similar, but they've got a couple serious drawbacks -- many (in my experience, probably "most") websites will reject an email address with a + sign, and also it exposes your actual personal address. Using a separate gmail address solves those.

I do wish that Google would come up with a proper disposable email address solution.


Re:Name? (1)

This. As for misdirected email, i had a similar problem a couple of years back when someone decided to use my email (no real name) for his facebook account. As it seems email confirmation is optional and the guy made a full profile, added friends etc xD


gmail plus sign postfix

Well, I have a solution to your "email has already been registered" issue.

Gmail will treat [email protected] as the same address as [email protected], both will go into the [email protected] account.

Give the site an email address with a plus sign postfix like that and it should detect it as a new unique address.

Some sites don't allow the plus symbol in email addresses (even though it's a valid character), so mileage may vary.


Re:gmail plus sign postfix (2)

MANY sites don't allow the plus symbol in email addresses (even though it's a valid character), so mileage may vary.


Seriously, having used "plus-addressing" for many years, I can attest to the fact that many websites won't accept it.

I know of one site where I did register years ago, but their de-registration page won't accept the "plus-address" that I used to register (, I'm looking at you).


Yes (4, Funny)

Yes, I have this exact same problem. However, I do not keep other people's e-mail.

I have been able to track down the correct people to whom the e-mails belong. In two cases, the people are lawyers and the e-mails contained either personal or confidential information.

Another case is a general contractor, and I've received quotes from subcontractors, blueprints and general correspondence.

In one case it was a confirmation of tickets for a theme park. (I debated showing up as soon as the park opened and claiming the tickets, but ethics got the better of me.)

These people now reside in my address book. I forward the e-mail in question over to them, and CC a copy to the sender.

Anonymous Coward

What is the problem?

To make matters worse, I frequently find I can't use my email to create a new account at various sites because it's already been registered.

Why not make a password reset for them (unless they have "security questions") and change the email? Then you can create your own account. It is not your problem that some hobo can't enter their own e-mail address when registering accounts.

As for the unwanted email, tell the sender politely that they have sent personal/confidential information to you, an unsuspecting third party with a similar address. Then throw any future mail from them away. I have gotten some mail like this, but they all rectified their mistake and stopped sending to me. If they wouldn't, it isn't my problem (apart from pressing the "junk email" button in my MUA).

Anonymous Coward

Even worse: Facebook does not validate e-mails (0)

So I got somebody else's Facebook notifications. From time to time, I get some e-mail from Facebook stating the e-mail address has not been verified (with no description on what to do if you are not the intended recipient). I hoped this situation would die with time, but it is already five months since I got the first e-mail.

At some stage in the past, I also got some e-mails from ebay about a seller and a buyer discussing transaction e-mails. These ones did actually die.

In both cases, the e-mail account the messages should go was not the one I tend to give out. Google allows for different spellings on the same account. Your e-mail account may be achieved by following permutations:
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
And this is not a bug, it is a feature.


I have the same problem (4, Funny)

I use my first initial+last name as my email address and get mail destined for a half dozen people. One person is an elderly gentleman in the midwest, I've given up any hope of getting him to stop giving out my email address. I only get a half dozen or so a month so it's not too bad.

I usually send a form letter to emails where it looks like a person might read the response (as opposed to newsletters, etc). For those emails where I don't think a human will read the response, I usually just hit the Spam button, unless there's a quick and easy to find unsubscribe link.

Sometimes when an email has a signature that says that if I receive a copy of the email in error I must delete all copies, in my reply, I ask whether they want to work on a time and materials basis or a fixed price $500 contract for me to track down and delete the email from all devices that it may have been delivered to (having emails go to a phone, tablet, several computers, imap download + backup means a fair amount of work to find and delete it everywhere). So far none have been willing to pay. I wonder if I could accept their demand to delete all copies of the email as implicit authorization to do the work and then bill them for the work.

Anonymous Coward

I like mail redirectors. Everyone but true spammers will respond to you redirecting all the mail from their domain back to the support address for that domain. Preface it with, "you must have lost this, I am helping., HERE" And resend the email. Maybe twice to make sure it isn't lost. Works every time.

Anonymous Coward

me too (0)

my gmail is [email protected] and i have this problem all the time. i have on occasion looked up the person using my email by searching the phone book for people with my name around the address of the local businesses and people that frequently email me... usually it appears the people are 60+ but when someone used my email to start a twitter account it was someone in his 30s based on the picture he used on the account. i did like someone above said and used email based password reset and posted on the account that the person was using the wrong email address and that the account should be removed from their friend list or whatever twitter does.

in general i am really annoyed by the email i constantly get, though the other week i did get some tickets to an indoor trampoline place that sounded fun... sadly the place was 2500 miles away. most the people using my account i think are leaving off the random number or swapping out a _ for an inconsequential . that leads me to getting their emails.

Anonymous Coward

I have the same issue (0)

I have had several emails from job applications to registrations on shopping sites to my gmail. I reply telling the person that they have contacted the wrong person, and advise them to contact the intended recipient by another means.

I once got a schedule for a church rota for somewhere in the states, and when I replied saying I wasn't the person in question they asked me to forward it to them! I'm not quite sure how they expected me to do this.

This misaddressing of emails is probably really confusing the NSA email contact database though.

Anonymous Coward

Had this issue (0)

Someone was registering for sites using my GMail address without the dot I use. They registered for a site and an email came through confirming their details, including phone number.

I phoned up and asked him politely to not use my email address.
He accused me of hacking his account he has used for 2 years.
I explained I have had the account since GMail was 'invite only'.

Got swore at loads, so hung up and set up a rule so that mail without the dot is ignored and trashed. Problem solved!


Re: Had this issue

For what it's worth, GMail treats all e-mail addresses that are identical other than dots as the same e-mail address internally, so [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], and [email protected] are all going to be the same account.

I've noticed that forum spammers like to use that trick to get around "each account must have a unique e-mail" settings on certain types of forum software.


Unsubscribe or filter (1)

I have the same problem. There's at least two dozens distinct individuals who have had emails erroneously addressed to my inbox.

For automated emails that offer an easy link to unsubscribe or dissociate my email address from that account, I use the provided link. Those are pretty easy.

Sometimes people register for paid services that send a monthly bill and it comes to my email address. They may or may not be of English origin. For these, I just add a filter or rule to my email provider or client to just delete them or move them. Communicating with someone, possibly in another language, possibly requiring lots of bureaucratic red tape, is not really worth it. If they care about it enough, it's their responsibility to fix it.

The most annoying case is when a large group of friends start an email thread with a whole bunch of different people in the "to" or "cc" field. Asking them to correct the email address is pretty much an exercise in futility, since all it takes is one person to hit 'reply to all' and your email address is back on the thread. For these, I just block every recipient on the thread.

I've never had the problem of someone already having registered my email. One way around it would be to set up another email address that just forwards to your actual email address.

Anonymous Coward

Yep, I have this issue

1) If I can track down the person, I try to contact them and let them know they have they're using the wrong email
2) If it's a real person sending the email (like when one person have out my email for his house refinance stuff), I email the person back asking them to contact via phone or whatever the person and tell them they have the wrong email address
3) If a person in #2 does so and i keep receiving new emails because the person doesn't learn, I ask someone again like in #2, though this time I recommend they they stop doing business with, or throw out the job application, or whatever because the person is so stupid that they can't even figure out their own address
4) I've been know to find the person via their relatives and ask them to inform the person that they're using the wrong email
5) For sites where registrations were done, I simply go to the site, click Forgot Password, get a reset, go in, and change the information so it's no longer to my email address. Often I change the address to STOP+USING+[MY+ADDRESS] Sometimes logging in to the account has the benefits of getting me their address and/or phone number to contact, which I've done.
6) In cases where I've changed the email address and they've had tech support change it back to mine, I go back in to the account and change ALL the info to mine, so now it become my account and they can no longer use it or get any access to it.


I've just been dealing with this (1)

I use a personal domain for my actual mail, but have accounts at all the major free mail sites too, just for spam or whatever.

I started getting mail to my Yahoo account which wasn't spam, but clearly not for me, as part of a group of people participating in a medical imaging conference. For a while I just blew it off, but eventually the organizer mailed my actual non-yahoo address by mistake as well. So I decided to be swell about it and let her know that I'm not the person she's trying to reach. She said "Oh, I'm sorry, I meant to do (yourname), thanks!", and so I told her "well no, that's also me, sorry". I proceeded to tell her an address which would work for her intended recipient (work email for the person she was trying to mail, who isn't me).

Basically she refused to believe she has been sending to the wrong address, and said "I had no idea two people could have the same email address, I guess Yahoo must allow it or something". At that point, I gave up and just let it go again. It's not high-volume enough to matter.


Me too (1)

They can't reply or get your reply because they can't log in, I went so far as to track one person down via an ad sent to them, I have also received someone's complete information, SSN, etc. In the end I just drag them to the trash.

Oh and Google needs to admit they fucked up and fix it, I'm pretty sure that guys info I got could lead to some sort of lawsuit.


Happens to me a lot with my own domain (4, Insightful)

I own a very short domain name where the first part of the name is the same as many organization's name.

e.g., if it was then others have or etc and I get a LOT of their email because I wildcard my domain for email and people just assume that will work

As I get them, I add a postfix rule to reject that specific username but I still get stuff, including very confidential stuff.

I haven't advised these organizations because I fear they'll just turn around and try to dispute to get my domain or accuse me of criminal interception or whatever. So I just delete them and they can wonder why they never got a reply.

Rule #1: "Email is not a guaranteed service."

Rule #2: "Email is not secure. Stop sending confidential stuff through it"


Get your own domain name (1)

I had various problems with email address collisions as well. Then when I had to change ISPs, I decided to get my own domain name. It's a little different when you own your own email address. If you register a domain, you can be [email protected] or such. Then you just forward from your actual email host to the registered email address. It's only a few dollars a year. Then YOU decide who gets an email address for your domain, and you can have whatever policy you want to avoid collisions.


bah, you guys are no fun (2)

Y'all are missing out on a good time.

I have a gmail account with the first name dot last name set up. As you can imagine I get quite a few messages for people who forget to tell their friends about their middle initial. However from context, I can often tell which of my name-sharing buddies the email was intended for. Over the years I have actually gotten to know a couple of them, which is fun.

I don't bother trying to tell the senders about the mistakes, they usually do nothing, oddly. The recipient, however, tends to get on it effectively.

It's quite interesting do talk to them. What's in a name?

Anonymous Coward

Worst is Barnes and noble, nook

They won't take your email address off if some uses it by mistake, you are stuck getting perpetual updates


This happens to me a lot, too

A few months back, I received an email on my Gmail from the agent of an NFL player. The agent was apparently looking to help his client negotiate a contract, and conveniently attached a draft of said contract. I went and updated the NFL player's Wikipedia entry stating that he was going into free agency and looking for a gig. Hey, I could have done a lot worse, like placing bets using inside info or something.

Many, many years ago, I had the screen name "File" on AOL. There was some sort of ancient productivity suite (maybe Notes, or 123, or something) where you would cc a message to "file" in order to keep a local copy, and many AOL users presumed their email service worked the same way. Oh sweet Christ, the things that landed in my inbox there over the years..


Haven't had this issue with GMail, but with other (2)

My GMail (and Yahoo! as well) username is (first name)(middle name)(last name), all fairly common [in fact at my current employer there are multiple matches of (first name)(last name), and my father has the same (first name)(last name) as well], and I have not had this problem with either service. Perhaps using initials instead of full names is part of it; or your last-name may have different demographic connotations.

I did, however, recently have that problem with a Comcast account. When the tech visited our home for installation, he created an account (first name)(last name) . I didn't actually give it out anywhere, yet within a few months it was filled with a hundred or so messages for someone in another state. I did try responding to one item that seemed moderately important, and whoever got the response [the help-desk of some organization] didn't seem to grasp that I had no connection with the intended recipient. Since I hadn't advertised it anywhere, it was easy to change the username, to (my first initial)(wife's first initial)(my last initial)(wife's last initial)(string of digits) While this address appears to have been reused, apparently Comcast no longer allows address reuse; I tried using a previous ID that I had used a long time ago, and it was not available.

Since you ask for advice, I recommend two courses of action:

1. As long as you still have access to that address, when you receive anything that is clearly misdirected and potentially of high value, deal with it politely. Don't use a "form response", instead personalize the response to the content of the message. CC the intended recipient on the response, if you are able to divine who it is. Once you've dealt with the matter, delete the whole thread. For newsletters, try following an "unsubscribe" action, if that's not available mark as spam.

2. Consider an exit strategy from your current e-mail address, no matter how much is attached to it. See the Google help posting "Change your username". For the new address, try a long nickname or full first name instead of first initial; or maybe add a string of numbers, a city your contacts will recognize, or a title. Give your important contacts plenty of advance notice, post the new address with the reasons you're switching [perhaps with a list of the confusing other identities as well] on your "old" Google+ profile. After a reasonable time (say six months or a year), delete your old account. Make sure you change your address at all the "various sites" you've registered at before doing so, in case you need to use a password reset function.

Anonymous Coward

Periods don't count (0)

Also, note that the periods in your name don't make any difference. Email addressed to [email protected], [email protected] and [email protected] go to the same mailbox.

... If you are certain that everyone will use the periods just as you specified then it is pretty easy to add a filter which separates the mail into different folders based on the position of the periods. That can automatically filter email addresses that aren't formatted to your liking.

[Apr 13, 2014] NSA Exploited Heartbleed Bug For YEARS, Leaving Consumers Vulnerable To Attack

April 11, 2014 | Washington's Blog

Top computer and internet experts say that NSA spying breaks the functionality of our computers and of the Internet. It reduces functionality and reduces security by – for example – creating backdoors that malicious hackers can get through.

Remember, American and British spy agencies have intentionally weakened security for many decades. And it's getting worse and worse. For example, they plan to use automated programs to infect millions of computers.

NSA also encourages large internet companies to delay patching vulnerabilities, to allow the NSA time to exploit them. See this and this. In other words, the NSA encourages companies to allow vulnerabilities to remain unfixed.

You've heard of the scary new "Heartbleed" computer vulnerability?

The NSA has exploited it – and kept it hidden from consumers and security experts – for years. Bloomberg reports:

The U.S. National Security Agency knew for at least two years about a flaw in the way that many websites send sensitive information, now dubbed the Heartbleed bug, and regularly used it to gather critical intelligence, two people familiar with the matter said.


Heartbleed appears to be one of the biggest glitches in the Internet's history, a flaw in the basic security of as many as two-thirds of the world's websites.


Putting the Heartbleed bug in its arsenal, the NSA was able to obtain passwords and other basic data that are the building blocks of the sophisticated hacking operations at the core of its mission, but at a cost. Millions of ordinary users were left vulnerable to attack from other nations' intelligence arms and criminal hackers.

"It flies in the face of the agency's comments that defense comes first," said Jason Healey, director of the cyber statecraft initiative at the Atlantic Council and a former Air Force cyber officer. "They are going to be completely shredded by the computer security community for this."

[Apr 07, 2014] The NSA Spying Machine An Interactive Graphic

April 03, 2014 | Businessweek

With every new leak from Edward Snowden's bottomless trove of pilfered documents, it gets harder to keep track of all the bizarre ways the National Security Agency has cooked up to spy on people and governments. This may help.

Data in Motion
NSA's spies divide targets into two broad categories: data in motion and data at rest. Information moving to and from mobile phones, computers, data centers, and satellites is often easier to grab, and the agency sucks up vast amounts worldwide. Yet common data such as e-mail is often protected with encryption once it leaves a device, making it harder-but not impossible-to crack.

Data at Rest
Retrieving information from hard drives, overseas data centers, or cell phones is more difficult, but it's often more valuable because stored data is less likely to be encrypted, and spies can zero in on exactly what they want. NSA lawyers can compel U.S. companies to hand over some of it; agency hackers target the most coveted and fortified secrets inside computers of foreign governments.

Where the Data Goes
Much of the data the NSA compiles from all these efforts will be stored in its million-square-foot data center near Bluffdale, Utah. It can hold an estimated 12 exabytes of data. An exabyte is the equivalent of 1 billion gigabytes.

[Jan 02, 2014] Your USB cable, the spy: Inside the NSA's catalog of surveillance magic

Dec 31, 2013 | Ars Technica
Old_Fogie_Late_Bloomer -> Ars Centurion
Reader Fav
It's not like this comes as a surprise, as such (as with the initial revelations, you always suspected SOMETHING like this could be going on) but to see it confirmed, and to get a sense of the breadth of it all...
Seriously, it's enough to make me profoundly reevaluate the role of technology in my life.


I had to chuckle a bit, when I read about the Huawei injection. Obviously the government knew what they did, when they blocked Huawei from official contracts. They knew those products were vulnerable because the NSA did it! Five years ago!

PlisskenArs -> Centurion

This is bad. I guess I need to rethink my stance on companies like Cisco blaming the NSA revelations on their declining sales overseas. I thought it was largely overstated -- at least at this early stage -- but now? How could any foreign corporation feel comfortable purchasing technology from a U.S. vendor? Whether these vendors are cooperating directly with the NSA or not doesn't seem to matter anymore.

psuedonymousArs Centurion

See, this sort of targeted surveillance is the kind of thing I'd expect the NSA/GCHQ/et al to be developing. It's the mass dragnet capture of data that is objectionable, both on grounds of the obvious human rights abuse, and of it being a large expense that has - with all evidence available thus far - produced absolutely no results.

cdclndcArs -> Praefectuset


An implanted wireless device is the NSA's go-to approach for dealing with "air-gapped" networks-networks that don't have an Internet connection for security reasons.

Sometime in the past I was responsible for signing off on situations such as described in the quote. Not only were the networks not allowed to have an 'Internet connection' but the possibility of inadvertently having one was removed as well. Anyone with a bit of tech knowledge can disable a gateway many different ways, but we had to lock things down enough that someone couldn't accidentally do so much as plug in a cable to a live network (physically lock down access, physically disable radios, lock down IPs and subnets so as to be unusable the general LAN if by some means someone had a 100' Cat5e cable and zero common sense, on and on...).

Radios in the USB cables? That really got me there. It's not something you can readily look for without an RF Spectrum Analylizer and jumping through so many hoops as to be impracticable and wasting countless manhours. Clever scary that. While signing off on that is not part of my job at the moment, I'm really not sure how to handle that now in good conscious after these revelations.


I once worked with a guy who always talked about how he worked in a Faraday cage when he worked for one of the big government contractors, I don't remember which one. I always thought it was a little overboard, but seeing this now, seems like they probably knew about some of these things and had the right idea.



For example, one collection of BIOS hacks called the "MONTANA" family (SCHOOLMONTANA, SIERRAMONTANA, and STUCCOMONTANA), was designed to target Juniper Networks routers using the JUNOS operating system-a FreeBSD derivative.

I wonder if the updated version is called HANNAHMONTANA?


Well folks, unless you think a dystopian future of 1984 surveillance is a sustainable and productive future for humanity, it looks like We The Peons need to burn these motherfuckers down. I'm not just talking NSA, I'm talking ALL of them. They won't stop this shit until we physically destroy the means.

Seriously, corruption will be the end of our species if we can't get a fucking handle on the difference between productive and counterproductive activities, which can also be generalized as growing/making things, versus preying on each other. Replacing fossil fuel energy would be a good example of a productive human project with a high sustainability value.


For me, these revelations are now starting to go too far. Although as someone said it's not necessarily Snowdon that released this.

Revealing that the NSA / GCHQ routinely tapped most peoples email and social media to understand the connections is completely fair game for whistleblowing - that is mass surveilence.

Like others who have already posted however this sort of targetted spying is exactly what I expect spys to do.

If we get angry about this then there's a risk we lose the chance to fight back on the things that really are overkill.


PottedMeat wrote:

"New corporate policy: All new hardware to be reflashed with manufacturer's firmware upon arrival"

We're going to need signed open source code, with a live distributed verification / trust checking scheme (so no single entity can publish fake signatures). We have every reason to NOT TRUST everything we can't see and inspect ourselves. Of course, if companies want to do open firmware, great, I'll be glad to buy.

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