PRISM: NSA access to big tech companies because trrrrists

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PRISM: NSA access to big tech companies because trrrrists

Postby Steax » Fri Jun 07, 2013 1:38 pm UTC

An alleged top-secret NSA presentation revealed secret backdoor access to a bunch of companies' servers. Article here.

Companies involved, in order of compliance:
Microsoft
Yahoo
Google
Facebook
PalTalk
YouTube
Skype
AOL
Apple

What they collect:

Image

Of course, all of them deny the allegations.

How many people do they check? Well, they don't count the people who they check and don't merit further investigation, but:
When the NSA reviews a communication it believes merits further investigation, it issues what it calls a "report". According to the NSA, "over 2,000 PRISM-based reports" are now issued every month. There were 24,005 in 2012, a 27% increase on the previous year.


And here's what both upsets and confuses me. Their reasoning:
The program facilitates extensive, in-depth surveillance on live communications and stored information. The law allows for the targeting of any customers of participating firms who live outside the US, or those Americans whose communications include people outside the US.

It also opens the possibility of communications made entirely within the US being collected without warrants.

[...]

The presentation claims PRISM was introduced to overcome what the NSA regarded as shortcomings of Fisa warrants in tracking suspected foreign terrorists. It noted that the US has a "home-field advantage" due to housing much of the internet's architecture. But the presentation claimed "Fisa constraints restricted our home-field advantage" because Fisa required individual warrants and confirmations that both the sender and receiver of a communication were outside the US.

"Fisa was broken because it provided privacy protections to people who were not entitled to them," the presentation claimed. "It took a Fisa court order to collect on foreigners overseas who were communicating with other foreigners overseas simply because the government was collecting off a wire in the United States. There were too many email accounts to be practical to seek Fisas for all."


Okay, I think the whole terrorist thing has gone too far. Sure, they're a danger, but seriously? Obtain top-secret backdoor access in a net to capture all foreigners (and Americans with contact to foreigners), and possibly Americans themselves? With no record or requirements at all? In today's world, this is basically a door into anyone's life. This is basically wiretapping and all sorts of related intrusions... With no due process whatsoever.

And the reason? "Too many email accounts"? What the fuck?

I truly hope is proven false.
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Re: PRISM: NSA access to big tech companies because trrrrist

Postby Steax » Fri Jun 07, 2013 1:54 pm UTC

As for my personal commentary on the subject: this rocks my boat hardest because they show links to companies that I generally trust. Even other services are alleged to come onboard next. I know sometimes police wiretap without due process and whatnot - the problem I have is that it goes directly behind supposed safeguards like HTTPS to gmail.
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Re: PRISM: NSA access to big tech companies because trrrrist

Postby Brace » Fri Jun 07, 2013 2:03 pm UTC

I wonder if Pidgin OTR still works as sufficient encryption for instant messaging. I know most IM programs transmit in plaintext so it's not like many of these programs were ever all that secure to begin with.
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Re: PRISM: NSA access to big tech companies because trrrrist

Postby Steax » Fri Jun 07, 2013 2:09 pm UTC

I don't think encryption is part of the issue here. As long as you don't store plaintext on a listed company's servers, then you should be safe. Well, provided the NSA hasn't broken your encryption.
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Re: PRISM: NSA access to big tech companies because trrrrist

Postby schismtracer » Fri Jun 07, 2013 3:11 pm UTC

Well, provided the NSA hasn't broken your encryption.


Since that's basically their entire reason for existing, I wouldn't expect publicly-available encryption to be worth a damn.

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Re: PRISM: NSA access to big tech companies because trrrrist

Postby Kulantan » Fri Jun 07, 2013 3:29 pm UTC

TIL that the NSA make terrible powerpoint slides.

Also that the NSA thinks that Fisa warrants are too restrictive, which is like saying that water isn't wet enough. Plus as a foreigner I'd quite like some sort of privacy.
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Re: PRISM: NSA access to big tech companies because trrrrist

Postby stevey_frac » Fri Jun 07, 2013 3:32 pm UTC

schismtracer wrote:
Well, provided the NSA hasn't broken your encryption.


Since that's basically their entire reason for existing, I wouldn't expect publicly-available encryption to be worth a damn.



A lot of really smart people have tried really hard to break AES-128 with some really big computers... That they haven't is probably a good indication that AES-128 is probably pretty secure for the time if you aren't a high value target for the NSA. Even if they have some next level attacks against the encryption it probably still takes access to 1000's of high powered computers. Essentially, it's like any other type of security. You don't have to be perfectly secure. You just have to ensure that the cost / value proposition for people breaking in is crappy enough that it's not worth it for them.

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Re: PRISM: NSA access to big tech companies because trrrrist

Postby Steax » Fri Jun 07, 2013 3:45 pm UTC

That's the thing. Even if common encryption could be broken by the NSA, unless it were some sort of fundamental mathematical flaw, chances are they're not going to run every bit of encrypted data they find. This, however, would presumably imply direct access to clean, unencrypted, searchable data, tied to all the additional metadata the company in question knows about you. It's far more than someone sniffing a chat log and decrypting it; it's someone doing a search on all your personal records for whatever they want, and immediately knowing your full name, address, email, contact information, and credit card data - I'm just assuming this because naturally an act to protect against "terrorism" would need access to that personal identifiable data.

And once you collect all that in one go, you have all the person's data on Facebook, including history and family members, as well as your email account. Oh, also all the location data temporarily stored on Apple's servers if you use one of their devices.

You know something's broken when their target audience for the project is "all non-US citizens and US citizens who 'communicate' with people outside the US". Without due process.
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Re: PRISM: NSA access to big tech companies because trrrrist

Postby Thesh » Fri Jun 07, 2013 3:56 pm UTC

AES-256 is used for Top Secret classified documents, based on NSA Suite B recommendations. It's unlikely that NSA would use it if they could break it so easily, because if they can break it easily then Russia or China could probably break it just as easily.

That said, Suite A is classified, so we don't even know what they use for documents classified higher than Top Secret.
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Re: PRISM: NSA access to big tech companies because trrrrist

Postby Tirian » Fri Jun 07, 2013 4:04 pm UTC

Steax wrote:As for my personal commentary on the subject: this rocks my boat hardest because they show links to companies that I generally trust.


I think it's fair to note that they aren't given a choice.

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Re: PRISM: NSA access to big tech companies because trrrrist

Postby Steax » Fri Jun 07, 2013 4:21 pm UTC

I don't blame them for it. It just scares me that all these companies who are all up in arms about user privacy and all suddenly turn out to have backdoors.

And while I was kindly informed about how these policies ensure that only non-US citizens are affected, that really doesn't make me (or pretty much any foreign entity) feel safe. If anything, it sounds like a move to make Americans not care about the issue, and they're the people with the power to change the policy in the first place.

Whole thing's just screwed up.
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Re: PRISM: NSA access to big tech companies because trrrrist

Postby Роберт » Fri Jun 07, 2013 4:35 pm UTC

This is surprising, even to me. And I believe saying "government overreach is par for the course" is an understatement. Guardian isn't some sketchy "news" source like DailyMail, either. So perhaps it's true?
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Re: PRISM: NSA access to big tech companies because trrrrist

Postby Mambrino » Fri Jun 07, 2013 4:50 pm UTC

I'm quite sure NSA will be very happy with all your Google search and login data, even if you'd encrypt the files you store in GDrive.

Congratulations, U.S., and those who voted for George W. Obama. Your president has successfully recruited at least +1 hater against all things labelled "important to U.S. national security".

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Re: PRISM: NSA access to big tech companies because trrrrist

Postby Telchar » Fri Jun 07, 2013 4:59 pm UTC

How do you handle communication from foreign entities with US based, or at least routed through the US, entities? That's always been kind of a tricky question to solve. International channels to ask for warrants would be a nightmare and have never been tried. As far as I know jurisdiction for things on the internet is murky at best.

I guess you foreigners get a taste of our terrible government too until some UN Treaty about jurisdiction gets signed by everyone except the US because we suck at that sort of thing and you still get our shitty government spying on you.
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Re: PRISM: NSA access to big tech companies because trrrrist

Postby PolakoVoador » Fri Jun 07, 2013 11:00 pm UTC

I find the idea of the government having unrestricted access to my data very wrong. The idea of a government of ANOTHER country spying on my stuff is even "wronger"

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Re: PRISM: NSA access to big tech companies because trrrrist

Postby Weeks » Fri Jun 07, 2013 11:47 pm UTC

I always figured I had some sort of privacy protection against the US due to not being even a US citizen, but hey.

Also, the Guardian was the same news source that provided the Verizon thing. How do they even get this stuff?
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Re: PRISM: NSA access to big tech companies because trrrrist

Postby Telchar » Sat Jun 08, 2013 12:33 am UTC

It's harder for the federal government to figure out who the leaker is if the journalist they leaked to is in another country (I assume).
Zamfir wrote:Yeah, that's a good point. Everyone is all about presumption of innocence in rape threads. But when Mexican drug lords build APCs to carry their henchmen around, we immediately jump to criminal conclusions without hard evidence.

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Re: PRISM: NSA access to big tech companies because trrrrist

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Sat Jun 08, 2013 1:02 am UTC

Though, in light of this revelation, maybe not.
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Re: PRISM: NSA access to big tech companies because trrrrist

Postby Steax » Sat Jun 08, 2013 1:12 am UTC

Telchar wrote:How do you handle communication from foreign entities with US based, or at least routed through the US, entities? That's always been kind of a tricky question to solve. International channels to ask for warrants would be a nightmare and have never been tried. As far as I know jurisdiction for things on the internet is murky at best.

I guess you foreigners get a taste of our terrible government too until some UN Treaty about jurisdiction gets signed by everyone except the US because we suck at that sort of thing and you still get our shitty government spying on you.


Well, all this time it's gone through the US company. And other countries can also ask the company to reveal or remove data (Google, for example, also keeps public records of these requests).
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Re: PRISM: NSA access to big tech companies because trrrrist

Postby elasto » Sat Jun 08, 2013 2:35 am UTC

Telchar wrote:How do you handle communication from foreign entities with US based, or at least routed through the US, entities? That's always been kind of a tricky question to solve. International channels to ask for warrants would be a nightmare and have never been tried. As far as I know jurisdiction for things on the internet is murky at best.

Well, surely if a foreigner committed a crime on US soil the police would still need to be issued a search warrant to search the physical locations of interest. Presumably it would be unacceptable for the police just to say 'oh well, because it's a foreigner we're investigating who cares about that search warrant nonsense'.

In this instance the place wished to be searched is a US company, so why shouldn't a US-issued search warrant be appropriate there too?

Yes, it's perhaps legal for the US government to do this because obviously constitutional rights don't apply to non-US citizens, but isn't this yet another example of where the US could show it really believed in universal human rights by extending legal protections to even non-US citizens - but instead it just takes the legal shortcut for no reason but pure expediency.

The problem is that the US then loses the moral high ground when China or whoever else leans on Microsoft, Google et. al. just fishing for information as well.

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Re: PRISM: NSA access to big tech companies because trrrrist

Postby Bharrata » Sat Jun 08, 2013 2:51 am UTC

Weeks wrote:Also, the Guardian was the same news source that provided the Verizon thing. How do they even get this stuff?


It's all been broken by Glenn Greenwald. He's been writing on abuses of power in the name of the War on Terror for years. I imagine he has his sources and is visible enough that whistleblowers looking for a trustworthy reporter seek him out if possible.

He's just released another leak of an Obama directive from October of last year that orders the creation of an international cyber-attack list:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/07/obama-china-targets-cyber-overseas

Barack Obama has ordered his senior national security and intelligence officials to draw up a list of potential overseas targets for US cyber-attacks, a top secret presidential directive obtained by the Guardian reveals.

The 18-page Presidential Policy Directive 20, issued in October last year but never published, states that what it calls Offensive Cyber Effects Operations (OCEO) "can offer unique and unconventional capabilities to advance US national objectives around the world with little or no warning to the adversary or target and with potential effects ranging from subtle to severely damaging".

It says the government will "identify potential targets of national importance where OCEO can offer a favorable balance of effectiveness and risk as compared with other instruments of national power".

The directive also contemplates the possible use of cyber actions inside the US, though it specifies that no such domestic operations can be conducted without the prior order of the president, except in cases of emergency.

The aim of the document was "to put in place tools and a framework to enable government to make decisions" on cyber actions, a senior administration official told the Guardian.

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Re: PRISM: NSA access to big tech companies because trrrrist

Postby rieschen » Sat Jun 08, 2013 6:37 am UTC

What bugs me most about this is that these companies didn't (probably couldn't?) communicate what was happening clearly to their customers. But they are offering services in these other countries - and that means, in these countries, they are bound to local laws (i.e. google maps being forced to offer blurring in Germany). Just as far as I can tell, they are liable for what happens with the data they stored, whether they could help it or not - so that's going to be interesting. :s

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Re: PRISM: NSA access to big tech companies because trrrrist

Postby Steax » Sat Jun 08, 2013 6:39 am UTC

Well, the fallout has begun. Predictably, the search for the leak has also begun.

Obama has made a statement that basically confirms both this and the Verizon case:
"Our goal is to stop folks from doing us harm and if every step that we're taking to try and prevent a terrorist act is on the front page of the newspapers or on television then presumably the people who are trying to do us harm are going to be able to get around our preventive measures," Obama said. "That's why these things are classified."


And the justification on the government side:
“The programs that have been discussed over the last couple days in the press are secret in the sense that they’re classified, but they’re not secret in the sense that when it comes to telephone calls, every member of Congress has been briefed on this program,” he said.
“The relevant intelligence committees are fully briefed on these programs. These are programs that have been authorized by broad, bipartisan majorities repeatedly since 2006. And so I think at the outset, it’s important to understand that your duly elected representatives have been consistently informed on exactly what we’re doing,” he added.


Great, that makes me feel so much safer. It's also worth noting that representatives have also been backing obama on these things, even people who usually don't agree with him (youtube).

I feel truly sorry for the tech companies involved. Their size and position probably got them caught in a web they can't speak out against themselves.
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Re: PRISM: NSA access to big tech companies because trrrrist

Postby Weeks » Sat Jun 08, 2013 6:44 am UTC

I expected them to come out with something akin to "we hid it for your own good".
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Re: PRISM: NSA access to big tech companies because trrrrist

Postby Steax » Sat Jun 08, 2013 7:55 am UTC

Okay, the UK has been in on the game since 2010.
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Re: PRISM: NSA access to big tech companies because trrrrist

Postby elasto » Sat Jun 08, 2013 8:03 am UTC

Obama wrote:"Our goal is to stop folks from doing us harm and if every step that we're taking to try and prevent a terrorist act is on the front page of the newspapers or on television then presumably the people who are trying to do us harm are going to be able to get around our preventive measures,"

Oh, yeah, because a terrorist organisation is never going to be able to think of using burner phones, disposable email addresses and encrypt their communications...

Nothing wrong with seeking to obtain information from a US company on a person of interest, foreigner or national - noone would object to that - just get a frigging warrant first! Demonstrate to the world that you believe systems of checks-and-balances, of separation of powers are universally good things - not something simply to engage in when forced to by a four-hundred year old document - but something done because it's the right way to behave.

(And, yes, the UK is no better in this regard. Power corrupts, which is why a separation of powers is a good thing. The UK doesn't even have a written constitution to limit it...)

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Re: PRISM: NSA access to big tech companies because trrrrist

Postby Zamfir » Sat Jun 08, 2013 8:41 am UTC

Steax wrote:Okay, the UK has been in on the game since 2010.

2010 is a tad positive... Look for example at the scandals surrounding the Menwith Hill listening post, basically going back since it was built in the 1950s. Radio, telephone, satellites, telexes, email, for every new technology there is a new 'UK helped the US spy on the rest of the world' scandal. Usually with Australia as support in the other side of the globe.

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Re: PRISM: NSA access to big tech companies because trrrrist

Postby Telchar » Sat Jun 08, 2013 9:45 am UTC

elasto wrote:
Telchar wrote:How do you handle communication from foreign entities with US based, or at least routed through the US, entities? That's always been kind of a tricky question to solve. International channels to ask for warrants would be a nightmare and have never been tried. As far as I know jurisdiction for things on the internet is murky at best.

Well, surely if a foreigner committed a crime on US soil the police would still need to be issued a search warrant to search the physical locations of interest. Presumably it would be unacceptable for the police just to say 'oh well, because it's a foreigner we're investigating who cares about that search warrant nonsense'.


Right, except the place the want to search is your phone records. So they did.

In this instance the place wished to be searched is a US company, so why shouldn't a US-issued search warrant be appropriate there too?


They did, actually, from a special court that deals with these kinds of secret warrants. That this court exists is scary.

Yes, it's perhaps legal for the US government to do this because obviously constitutional rights don't apply to non-US citizens, but isn't this yet another example of where the US could show it really believed in universal human rights by extending legal protections to even non-US citizens - but instead it just takes the legal shortcut for no reason but pure expediency.


I think we are being a little cynical if we think it's totally about expediency. I think they really do believe they are attempting to stop terrorist plots. That doesn't mean that what you are saying doesn't make sense, I just think you took it a little too far.

The problem is that the US then loses the moral high ground when China or whoever else leans on Microsoft, Google et. al. just fishing for information as well.


Turns out 80% of developed nations stand at about the same moral lowground on issues like this. See the previous few posts about the UK and Australia.
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Re: PRISM: NSA access to big tech companies because trrrrist

Postby elasto » Sat Jun 08, 2013 11:11 am UTC

Telchar wrote:Right, except the place the want to search is your phone records. So they did.

Sure, no issue with that, assuming they have a warrant naming your phone number (and not just a warrant allowing all the phone numbers and email addresses in the world to be searched).

In this instance the place wished to be searched is a US company, so why shouldn't a US-issued search warrant be appropriate there too?

They did, actually, from a special court that deals with these kinds of secret warrants. That this court exists is scary.


Yes, I must admit I hadn't realised the courts had been complicit with this secret law also - rubber-stamping a universal warrant. That's even more disappointing, actually.

I think we are being a little cynical if we think it's totally about expediency. I think they really do believe they are attempting to stop terrorist plots.

I believe that too. I don't think they are doing it for industrial espionage like, say, China is accused of doing. However I do think the choice of a single universal warrant instead of mass warrants is pure expediency. Witness what was said:

"Fisa was broken because it provided privacy protections to people who were not entitled to them," the presentation claimed. "It took a Fisa court order to collect on foreigners overseas who were communicating with other foreigners overseas simply because the government was collecting off a wire in the United States. There were too many email accounts to be practical to seek Fisas for all."


They shouldn't be thinking in terms of rights that people are 'entitled to' or not 'entitled to'. The reason these rights are in the constitution is because they are inherently good and right, not the other way around. They should be doing it because it's the right thing to do, not looking to do the bare minimum the constitution demands. That suggests they don't really believe in the principles the constitution outlines, the constitution is just more something of an inconvenience - something they stick to the letter of but not the spirit.

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Re: PRISM: NSA access to big tech companies because trrrrist

Postby sigsfried » Sat Jun 08, 2013 5:00 pm UTC

The US government should act in the best interest of the people of the United States, how does giving privileges to foreign nationals benefit America or American citizens? The strong do as they can, the weak suffer what they must. That is reality of international relations do you really think Americans are so inherently superior to all other people that it doesn't apply to Americans?

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Re: PRISM: NSA access to big tech companies because trrrrist

Postby Steax » Sat Jun 08, 2013 5:17 pm UTC

It does give a twist to all the people who thought they could trust US companies, services and servers to store their personal information. That stuff has to be stored somewhere, and discovering that the US government might scan your communications and data sounds like something China or some other regime would do. Sure, the US will always say "oh, it's just a pre-crime tool to find potential terrorists", but that's also what China likes to say. "Security".

Additionally, now that this news broke, a potion of people worried about this stuff will avoid the attached companies in the first place, or just use some service from some other country. Congratulations, you can't even reach them with FISA now.
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Re: PRISM: NSA access to big tech companies because trrrrist

Postby Mambrino » Sat Jun 08, 2013 5:48 pm UTC

sigsfried wrote:The US government should act in the best interest of the people of the United States, how does giving privileges to foreign nationals benefit America or American citizens? The strong do as they can, the weak suffer what they must. That is reality of international relations do you really think Americans are so inherently superior to all other people that it doesn't apply to Americans?


Well, Soviet Union acted in the best interest of the people of Russia, and look how popular it ended up among the other nationals in the Eastern Bloc. If you treat people like shit, don't be so surprised with reactions. Overlords tend not to be popular. If you like being a nation that would rather let their enemies' corpses rot than allow them buried, if you enjoy being a nation that celebrates when its government assassinates people instead of giving them a court of justice and jury of peers, then fine.

However, don't you dare talk about the ideals of Constitution or the visions of Founding Fathers - you've talked about them long enough that also others started to believe in them, that America was about them and not about general inherent birth-right superiority of the American people, that there really was a difference between choosing "western democracy" instead of alternatives. Free world? Good riddance.

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Re: PRISM: NSA access to big tech companies because trrrrist

Postby sigsfried » Sat Jun 08, 2013 6:02 pm UTC

Mambrino wrote:
sigsfried wrote:The US government should act in the best interest of the people of the United States, how does giving privileges to foreign nationals benefit America or American citizens? The strong do as they can, the weak suffer what they must. That is reality of international relations do you really think Americans are so inherently superior to all other people that it doesn't apply to Americans?


Well, Soviet Union acted in the best interest of the people of Russia, and look how popular it ended up among the other nationals in the Eastern Bloc. If you treat people like shit, don't be so surprised with reactions. Overlords tend not to be popular. If you like being a nation that would rather let their enemies' corpses rot than allow them buried, if you enjoy being a nation that celebrates when its government assassinates people instead of giving them a court of justice and jury of peers, then fine.

However, don't you dare talk about the ideals of Constitution or the visions of Founding Fathers - you've talked about them long enough that also others started to believe in them, that America was about them and not about general inherent birth-right superiority of the American people, that there really was a difference between choosing "western democracy" instead of alternatives. Free world? Good riddance.


Really the Soviet Union was in the best interests of the people of Russia. Doesn't seem like it, as life in Soviet Russia was deeply unpleasant for most.
Being hated isn't likely to be in Americas interest and treating others well helps Americans be treated well when overseas. The idea that government should be in the interests of the people governed is a huge step forward and one that America has shown works very well (not that I claim it is uniquely American).

If the Founding Fathers really believed in all the ideals in the founding documents they had they would have not had slaves, American relations with the Native Americans would have been much better.

People celebrate when those they perceive as there enemies die. Americans are not above that but neither is anyone else. There was much hand-wringing in the British press I remember at Americans celebrating the death of Bin Laden, and how we would never do that. Then Thatcher died and a significant proportion celebrated that in just the same way, Ding Dong the Witch is Dead, made it to number two in the charts for example.

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Re: PRISM: NSA access to big tech companies because trrrrist

Postby gmalivuk » Sat Jun 08, 2013 7:33 pm UTC

Obviously any kind of warrantless retrieval of information like this is shitty, and I'm not about to excuse or defend it. However,
Steax wrote:it's someone doing a search on all your personal records for whatever they want, and immediately knowing your full name, address, email, contact information, and credit card data
I'm pretty sure the US government (of which the NSA is part) already has all of this information. Knowing your name and address is how mail gets to you. For 99% of the population, knowing your full name is enough even for a private individual to freely find your address, email, and other contact information. Credit information is already available to banks and other lenders, and pales in comparison to the amount of tax information the IRS already has on anyone who's worked in this country for awhile.
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Re: PRISM: NSA access to big tech companies because trrrrist

Postby Lucrece » Sat Jun 08, 2013 9:26 pm UTC

Mambrino wrote:
sigsfried wrote:The US government should act in the best interest of the people of the United States, how does giving privileges to foreign nationals benefit America or American citizens? The strong do as they can, the weak suffer what they must. That is reality of international relations do you really think Americans are so inherently superior to all other people that it doesn't apply to Americans?


Well, Soviet Union acted in the best interest of the people of Russia, and look how popular it ended up among the other nationals in the Eastern Bloc. If you treat people like shit, don't be so surprised with reactions. Overlords tend not to be popular. If you like being a nation that would rather let their enemies' corpses rot than allow them buried, if you enjoy being a nation that celebrates when its government assassinates people instead of giving them a court of justice and jury of peers, then fine.

However, don't you dare talk about the ideals of Constitution or the visions of Founding Fathers - you've talked about them long enough that also others started to believe in them, that America was about them and not about general inherent birth-right superiority of the American people, that there really was a difference between choosing "western democracy" instead of alternatives. Free world? Good riddance.


You mean like how Gaddafi was murdered without a trial? Or how about any "revolution" functions?

In what planet do you live, where you think that the majority of people would support trial of foreign enemies instead of cheering on their immediate assassination? Why are you singling this out as if it were a US signature?

The US is merely despised internationally for the scale it can afford to behave in, not because most of the world also doesn't behave like this. As much as they like to pretend they don't.
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Re: PRISM: NSA access to big tech companies because trrrrist

Postby NSAtooMuch » Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:59 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:I'm pretty sure the US government (of which the NSA is part) already has all of this information. Knowing your name and address is how mail gets to you. For 99% of the population, knowing your full name is enough even for a private individual to freely find your address, email, and other contact information. Credit information is already available to banks and other lenders, and pales in comparison to the amount of tax information the IRS already has on anyone who's worked in this country for awhile.



Not possible. NSA databases, even at the TS//SI level are swept clean of American identities. The NSA has a very simple and effective way of managing the 4th Amendment: it is outside of the jurisdiction of the NSA to spy on Americans. Period. This is verified through layers of bureaucracy, and includes training on where the 4th amendment starts / stops for all members of the NSA who have direct access to raw data.

There is a reason Obama is 100% convinced that this is legal. And its because the NSA's defense is simple and concise. Its illegal for the NSA to spy on Americans, and there are extremely thorough procedures to ensure that American data is not released within the NSA. Even a TS//SI clearance + Polygraph is not enough to view the raw databases that the NSA contains. All data must be swept clean of American information before it is further distributed out of NSA databases... and only individuals trained in minimization procedures are allowed to view so called "Raw" data.

Furthermore, NSA access does not grant access to say... IRS databases. That sort of thing might be done by the FBI (who has authority to launch investigations, because they can obtain search warrants and so forth).

--------

I may have access to PRISM... but I personally don't know anything about it. (and I don't feel like risking a leak to satisfy everyone else's curiosity). My best insight into Prism is a particular case... where two Al Qaeda members say... happen to use Gmail.

As noted before, it is illegal for the NSA to spy on American soil. My bet is that Prism is the legal framework, probably in collaboration with the FBI, where the NSA would be allowed to obtain data from US companies if the NSA proves that the information is not related to American citizens.

Yes, a legal framework requiring cooperation of multiple agencies would be necessary for such a simple action, because of the NSA's restrictions. Again, the NSA is not allowed to spy on Americans, and further has no authority on US soil. But if they cooperate with the FBI to establish a "quick path" legal framework... then that issue would be solved.

Again, I haven't looked at Prism itself. But that is my bet into what is going on. Proof is in the pudding: look at the Verizon court order, and notice that the FBI is technically the one requesting the information on behalf of the NSA.

Top-Secret Red tape is funny, but you get used to it after working in this area.
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Re: PRISM: NSA access to big tech companies because trrrrist

Postby elasto » Sun Jun 09, 2013 12:57 am UTC

sigsfried wrote:The US government should act in the best interest of the people of the United States, how does giving privileges to foreign nationals benefit America or American citizens?

That's a valid point of view, but then the US government shouldn't try to pretend to believe in any universality of human rights. Human rights are merely what respective governments choose to give their own citizens, and no government should be expected to go beyond that.

If, on the other hand, the US government thinks the constitution contains what it does because those things are inherently right (freedom of speech, freedom from arbitrary seizure of property etc.), then it should follow the principles universally and not treat them merely as an inconvenience.

As to how 'giving privileges to foreign nationals directly benefits American citizens', well, it helps avoids the 'strangers on a train' loophole: The US want to spy on a US citizen, but don't have enough cause to get a warrant. The UK want to spy on a UK citizen but don't have enough cause to get a warrant. So they agree a trade with each spying on the other's target and then sharing the info - and neither agency is breaking its own country's laws.

If you actually believe in the principles and spirit of the constitution rather than setting your sights on barely satisfying the letter of it then you won't engage in this kind of thing. It's in US citizens' interests that their agencies actually genuinely believe in its principles as universal and timeless.

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Re: PRISM: NSA access to big tech companies because trrrrist

Postby Steax » Sun Jun 09, 2013 1:46 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Obviously any kind of warrantless retrieval of information like this is shitty, and I'm not about to excuse or defend it. However,
Steax wrote:it's someone doing a search on all your personal records for whatever they want, and immediately knowing your full name, address, email, contact information, and credit card data
I'm pretty sure the US government (of which the NSA is part) already has all of this information. Knowing your name and address is how mail gets to you. For 99% of the population, knowing your full name is enough even for a private individual to freely find your address, email, and other contact information. Credit information is already available to banks and other lenders, and pales in comparison to the amount of tax information the IRS already has on anyone who's worked in this country for awhile.


I'm not a US citizen. Would they keep tabs on everyone in the whole world?
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Re: PRISM: NSA access to big tech companies because trrrrist

Postby Thesh » Sun Jun 09, 2013 1:52 am UTC

It would probably make no sense not to collect as much information as possible on everyone around the world.
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Re: PRISM: NSA access to big tech companies because trrrrist

Postby Steax » Sun Jun 09, 2013 2:07 am UTC

When the information is available, yes. But would they actively keep tabs on everyone? Most people don't openly reveal their address and other contact information on the web, and non-US citizens wouldn't be reachable through the US government. (Presumably gmal was referring to US citizens/active foreigners in the US in his post.)

Unless you mean that the US government actively asks Facebook to hand over everyone's data for these purposes, which... Well, is chilling, but would probably still be less of a concern than this.
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