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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.

[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

[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.

[Jan 12, 2014] Binney and Hedges On Obama's NSA Guidelines

The danger of total surveillance is that it completely destroys remnants of freedom, converting citizens into state slaves. With FBI having direct access to NSA databases this is a dangerous development... Such society will instantly became a totalitarian state if any crisis struck it.
Real News

I know this type of criticism about the current administration upsets a lot of disillusioned (and desperate) liberals who cling to Brand Obama, but at the end of the day, he is no progressive reformer. He seems more like a moderate Republican, Herbert Hoover, with splash of Nixon.

Yes, he is 'better than' those Luddites and corporate crypto-fascists that scare you, but isn't that really the point? Negotiating away your freedom, bit by bit, out of fear?

[Jan 08, 2014] Apple Says It Is 'Unaware' of N.S.A. iPhone Hack Program By NICOLE PERLROTH

"It can also turn the iPhone into a "hot mic" using the phone's own microphone as a recording device and capture images via the iPhone's camera. (Reminder to readers: Masking tape is not a bad idea)."
Dec 31, 2013 | NYT

The agency described DROPOUTJEEP as a "software implant for Apple iPhone" that has all kinds of handy spy capabilities. DROPOUTJEEP can pull or push information onto the iPhone, snag SMS text messages, contact lists, voicemail and a person's geolocation, both from the phone itself and from cell towers in close proximity.

It can also turn the iPhone into a "hot mic" using the phone's own microphone as a recording device and capture images via the iPhone's camera. (Reminder to readers: Masking tape is not a bad idea).

But the Der Spiegel report is based on information that is over five years old. The slide, dated January 2007 and last updated October 2008, claims that the agency requires close physical proximity to the iPhone to install DROPOUTJEEP.

"The initial release of DROPOUTJEEP will focus on installing the implant via close access methods," the N.S.A. slide says. Then, "A remote installation capability will be pursued for a future release."

Based on the timing of the report, the agency would have been targeting Apple's iOS5 operating system. Apple released its latest iOS7 operating system last September.

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