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Old August 21, 2013, 11:35 AM   #1
Tom Servo
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Privacy and the NSA

The email service Lavabit recently shut down rather than release all their records to the NSA. Lavabit's mission was to provide private and secure encrypted email services. Following that, a similar service called Silent Circle closed their doors as well. A spokesperson for Silent Circle issued a statement that nothing was truly anonymous, and that if you want privacy, "you may wish to avoid email altogether."

As of today, Pamela Jones has shut down the Groklaw blog for the same reasons.

The issue is twofold. The first problem is that the NSA can get a rubber stamp from a FISA court to collect metadata on electronic communications. You won't know if you're being monitored.

The second problem is the blanket abuse of National Security Letters. Under Section 505 of the Patriot Act, the FBI can issue a letter to the administrator of a web service demanding any sort of information they want. The recipient can't discuss the contents or even the existence of the letter with anyone, nor do they have any legal right to refuse.

They've gone after librarians and phone companies. They've gone after websites. You won't even know if something you read or wrote is under scrutiny. Needless to say, aliases don't do much to shield your identity. Be wary of what you post online. A simple crack about fertilizer and jackboots could get you in hot water.

In case you're inclined to do jazz hands and scream "I never voted for that," you did. Here are the tallies for the House and Senate votes on the FISA expansion that allowed for this situation.
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Old August 22, 2013, 11:48 AM   #2
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One of you legal mavens is going to have to 'splain to me how these spying programs still exist, given the finding that they were unconstitutional 2 years ago.
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Old August 22, 2013, 02:24 PM   #3
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This is just getting worse and worse...I use Google's mail service a lot. I think that's supposedly one of the most non-private email service one could have isn't it?
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Old August 22, 2013, 03:16 PM   #4
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Can you imagine how many people the NSA would have to have working for them in order to actually read/listen/see everything you do online? It isn't a possible task, and they don't care about your average Joe, or his guns. They don't have the time, man power, or resources to be able to care about stuff like that.
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Old August 22, 2013, 03:20 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Constantine
This is just getting worse and worse...I use Google's mail service a lot. I think that's supposedly one of the most non-private email service one could have isn't it?
Long story, but gmail is no worse than most. You shouldn't expect much privacy in your online activities these days, and if you want it, you'll have to take steps on your own, which require a small amount of technical knowledge and money. I suppose you could hire someone to do it all for you, if you trusted them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SH3PDOG
Can you imagine how many people the NSA would have to have working for them in order to actually read/listen/see everything you do online? It isn't a possible task, and they don't care about your average Joe, or his guns. They don't have the time, man power, or resources to be able to care about stuff like that.
You're right, it's not possible for this to be a manual task, but I'm willing to bet it was never implemented to be done manually. It's likely an automated system which searches through [everything it can], and raises a flag when it detects [whatever is it programmed to detect].

The humans, theoretically, would then respond only to the flagged issues.
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Old August 22, 2013, 03:44 PM   #6
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I have always been one to assume there is no such thing as privacy on the net, or on a phone for that matter.

Heck if you use a cordless phone on a land line a person with a police scanner can listen to your conversations. I think it is possible with cell phones if one has the right equipment.

When I was younger my step dad bought a police scanner. He would listen in to know what was going on. It would scan, and pick up our neighbors telephone conversations. They lived three quarters of a mile away. This was in the eary 1990's. I am sure there are better ones theese days.
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Old August 22, 2013, 03:54 PM   #7
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They're not reading our emails, or listening to our phone calls, or looking at the faxes, text messages, none of it.

What they are doing is gathering a database of our communications, ready to investigate it when the 'need' arises.
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Old August 22, 2013, 04:46 PM   #8
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Privacy and the NSA

Quote:
Originally Posted by kilimanjaro View Post
They're not reading our emails, or listening to our phone calls, or looking at the faxes, text messages, none of it.

What they are doing is gathering a database of our communications, ready to investigate it when the 'need' arises.
Sorry to badger you, may we get a link from a reputable source that says that?
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Old August 22, 2013, 04:57 PM   #9
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What difference does that ultimately make, kilimanjaro? If, at some future date, you were to become a suspect, the government could recreate your entire history.

So they may only look at metadata for now, but they are archiving the lot.
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Old August 22, 2013, 09:28 PM   #10
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So they may only look at metadata for now, but they are archiving the lot.
And doesn't that mean they have conducted a search without specifying what exactly they were looking for?

Funny, I thought that was illegal. But, I'm no lawyer and never played one anywhere.
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Old August 22, 2013, 09:36 PM   #11
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You want a link? How about the NSA itself?


http://nsa.gov1.info/data/collect-citizen-data.jpg - Scaled to 640x246 on the website

And, of course, the accompanying story: Domestic Surveillance Data. The Main article is here: NSA Utah Data Center - Serving Our Nation's Intelligence Community

Meta-data? Hardly.
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Old August 22, 2013, 09:50 PM   #12
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I have always been one to assume there is no such thing as privacy on the net, or on a phone for that matter.
That's pretty much the way I handle it.

Back in the halcyon days of Usenet, folks used to love the anonymity they thought they had. Then folks showed up on alt.religion.scientology posting copyrighted materials from the organization. The Church of Scientology tried to sue, and in their deposition, they had lists of names of the posters. They'd gotten them from the IP addresses and service providers.

Suddenly, the notion that anyone was truly anonymous became very suspect. That was twenty years ago. Technology has come a long way.

My original point was, calling myself Kommando66 and maybe going through a proxy or two may not be enough to disguise my identity. It's a good thing not to post anything online we don't want to explain later.
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Old August 23, 2013, 12:23 AM   #13
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I heard something on the radio about the FISC being upset with the NSA for deviating from their mission by not putting protocols in place to prevent un-needed data from getting dragged into the net. Supposedly this was from a report written by the director that oversees national security or something like that. Supposedly it has been on going for 3 years where the FISC tells them to stop and they keep doing it. I wish I could remember more details. I also found this tonight.

http://personalliberty.com/2013/08/2...as-nsa-moment/

Privacy is pretty much non existent right now. I'm sure everything from this forum gets added on a weekly basis. Let's hope the NRA doesn't cave to political pressure in the future.
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Old August 23, 2013, 06:38 PM   #14
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Couldn't agree more, there is no anonymity or privacy online. No doubt we have all been flagged for posting on this forum.

Reminds me of an old Russian joke: a man reports his neighbor to the KGB for hiding undeclared diamonds in his woodshed, the secret police arrive while the neighbor is at work and tear the woodshed apart. When the neighbor gets home the man tells him what he reported. The mans neighbor thanks him for getting all of his wood split for him and agrees to call the KGB on him next week.


Hell of a thing living in a police state.
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Old August 24, 2013, 12:10 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sierra280
...there is no anonymity or privacy online...
Apropos of which see this article headlined "Bay Area prosecutors increasingly using social media posts in criminal cases" from the 16 August 2013 edition of the Contra Costa Times:
Quote:
PLEASANTON -- A teenage driver originally accused of vehicular manslaughter now faces a murder charge in the death of a bicyclist, partly because prosecutors say he bragged on Twitter about driving dangerously.

His case is part of a growing trend of social media posts being used as evidence against suspects, authorities said Friday.

....

As suspects feel compelled to post their misdeeds online for audiences to see, investigators have taken advantage, using the online quasi-confessions to bolster their cases, Bay Area prosecutors said.

In San Francisco, a cyclist in March fatally struck a 71-year-old pedestrian in a crosswalk after speeding through three red lights in the Castro District. Chris Bucchere, who eventually pleaded guilty to felony vehicular manslaughter, received a stiffer charge after he posted his explanation of the crash on a cycling group's website....
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Old August 26, 2013, 10:13 PM   #16
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For anyone interested in trying to secure greater online privacy, look at this page from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) -- https://ssd.eff.org/tech. The Tor browser bundle mentioned on that page lets one surf anonymously, though some suspect a government might have been responsible for a recent attack on Tor and which apparently harvested some IP addresses. https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2013/0...re-immediately.

I haven't used it because I assume everything online can be harvested by the government.
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Old August 27, 2013, 11:59 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Al Norris
You want a link? How about the NSA itself?
Al, while certainly full of interesting information, did you notice the disclaimer at the bottom of the page in both of the links you posted?

Quote:
This is a parody of nsa.gov and has not been approved, endorsed, or authorized by the National Security Agency or by any other U.S. Government agency.
Much of this content was derived from news media, privacy groups, and government websites. Links to these sites are posted on the left-sidebars of each page.
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Old August 28, 2013, 10:10 AM   #18
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True, the link's domain is gov1.info, which is not the gubbermint
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Old August 28, 2013, 05:30 PM   #19
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Groan!

No Webley, I didn't catch that. sigh.......
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Old August 28, 2013, 05:44 PM   #20
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OK. It gets worse. First, No Such Agency ("We Peep While You Sleep!") is secretly passing data to the DEA to tell them which domestic drug dealers to target, and then telling the "drug cops" to develop their own separate intel/evidence chain so that they can claim the 4th Amendment wasn't stepped on...with all this hidden from defense attorneys by policy:

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2013/0...nce-laundering

http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/hol...8/26/id/522343

http://www.deathandtaxesmag.com/2045...in-drug-busts/

Naturally, this illegal-as-hell intel got shared with the IRS as well:

http://dailycaller.com/2013/08/08/re...-deansa-intel/

Ready to puke yet? Hold on to your barf buckets, it gets worse.

As part of the general collapse of the rule of law around here, private companies that are contracted to help the NSA do all this spookbuggery are in turn given the right to do black hat hacking for profit, as long as they don't help anybody hack US government systems. If you have $2.5mil to spend you can go see these guys and they'll let you hack 25 computers anywhere on the planet. No idea who their customers are but the biggest buyers of computer security services (which is what this insanity started out as) are typically banks.

Here's what their offices look like, and what happened when I pointed cameras at it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vr5LIgZvx_8

It looks like somebody crossed the set of "Get Smart" with a small-scale clone of Google's offices, with an extra side-dish of creepy as heck.

Here's the full report on what's going on, written by my fiancee and I:

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B6Fh...gxdXEwMzg/edit

So. It ain't just the NSA we have to worry about, it's various private companies who due to political connections don't have to worry about getting busted. There's no oversight on those maniacs at all.
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Old August 28, 2013, 10:14 PM   #21
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Privacy and the NSA

Jim March. That's chilling. I find it funny how his "thank you" really meant "get out of here now". Nice work!!!! I'm about to hit the sack so I'll read your article tomorrow. I'm sure I'll enjoy it.
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Old August 28, 2013, 10:54 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim March
So. It ain't just the NSA we have to worry about, it's various private companies who due to political connections don't have to worry about getting busted. There's no oversight on those maniacs at all.
What could possibly go wrong? I'm sure they're all just following orders
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Old August 29, 2013, 08:13 AM   #23
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Today it's narcotics, tomorrow it's thought crimes...
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Old August 31, 2013, 08:00 AM   #24
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They're not reading our emails, or listening to our phone calls, or looking at the faxes, text messages, none of it.
What they are doing is gathering a database of our communications, ready to investigate it when the 'need' arises.
building algorithm profiles on individuals, which they are doing, is a massive invasion of privacy --is actually worse than real time reading of emails by an individual.

50 years ago most people would be paranoid to think the government was listening in on them. It was not economically feasible to task a person to listen to or follow another person unless the survailed individual was a known threat.

But today, data collection, storage and mining has reach such economies of scale that the cost is virtually nil to do all that to everyone and apply algorithms.

There are policymakers who think citizen gun owners are dangerous. Why would not IP coming into firing line have some utility when algorithm/machine cross referenced to other data?

I worked for a detective agency in college 30 years ago. They used to send interns down to the Suffolk country (Boston and environs) courthouse, say they were going to pay the parking tickets for a person being survialed/investigated and ask for all their parking tickets. The clerks gave up those ticket records 100% of the time with no ID. That often gave us lots of data on people's movements. Your wired and wireless IP trail (all metadata) is many orders of magnitude times more useful.

The issue today is not just the massive economies of scale, it is the younger generations' facebook induced devaluing of their own privacy. So we have both the technology and a social attitude shift that co-amplify the problem.

If the data is collected it WILL be mined. Years ago it was posited that major big box retailer were collecting transaction data not simply for marketing, but for the identification of less profitable "devil customers". hat was derided as paranoid. As the WSJ recently noted it turns to they have been doing exactly that, and selling and trading lists as well. You don't collect data and not use it in real time these days.
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Old August 31, 2013, 10:33 PM   #25
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Quote:
Privacy and the NSA
I don't think those two words belong in the same sentence anymore.
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